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Waimes (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)


Last modified: 2015-03-31 by ivan sache
Keywords: waimes | weismes | faymonville |
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[Flag of Waimes]

Flag of Waimes - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 11 September 2005

See also:

Presentation of Waimes

The municipality of Waimes (in German, Weismes; 6,825 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; municipal website), 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 of Waimes is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Waimes, Faymonville, and Robertville.

Waimes 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 Period, 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 Belgian-German natural park Hautes-Fagnes-Eifel.
Waimes is the highest municipality in Belgium, having on its territory the highest Belgian "mountain", the Signal de Botrange (694 m).

Waimes and the villages constituting the municipality, excepted Faymonville and Sourbrodt, depended on the Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy, founded in the 7th century by St. Remacle and ruled by a Prince-Abbot. A charter 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 the Walloon Fagnes, belonged to the Duchy of Luxembourg but was exploited by the inhabitants of Robertville, depending on the abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, who suppressed the fences set up by Sourbrodt. After having won a lawsuit, 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 Sourbrodt 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 Fagnes, which were 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. THe parish priests Bastin in Faymonville and Pietkin in Soubrodt refused; since French was forbidden, people decided to speak Walloon, thus explaining why Walloon is still very vivid in Waimes.
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%.

In 1875, a Silesian miner named Julius Jung visiting Waimes 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 3rd-1st century BC. 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 and particularly rich in gold 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; the first Belgian Championship of Gold Washing was organized there.

Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005

Flag of Waimes

The 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 [w2v03a] says that Waimes has no flag.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 5 May 2005

Former municipality of Faymonville

[Flag of Faymonville]

Flag of Faymonville - Image by Željko Heimer & Ivan Sache, 26 April 2014

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 (the Turks' Battle). There is, however, a more plausible explanation of the nickname: in the 16th-17th centuries, the Princes-Abbots of Stavelot often collected taxes to fund the war of the Holy Empire against the Ottomans; in the churches depending on monasteries, like in Waimes, those collects were not very popular. Faymonville, which depended on the Duchy of Luxembourg, was exempt of tax; accordingly, the inhabitants of Faymonville, accusated to support the enemies of the Empire, were soon nicknamed "Turks".

The flag used in Faymonville (photo) is indeed the Turkish national flag charged with the writing "FAYMONVILLE", in white, placed vertically along the flag's fly.

Ivan Sache, 14 April 2014