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Home Tourism Malmedy History Between the Two World Wars

Between the Two World Wars

After the First World War, in which the population of Malmedy fought in German uniforms, Malmedy – just like the other eastern cantons – was annexed to Belgium by virtue of the Treaty of Versailles.

The treaty allowed that the various population groups affected could express themselves about the annexation in a referendum. However, it was carried out in a thoroughly disputable way and manner. Opponents to the annexation were asked to register in a public list – open for all to see – in their individual Communal Office. Only 271 of the 33,276 affected inhabitants of the eastern cantons were bold enough to register their disapproval in such an open manner.

Moreover, for some time there was a dispute between the Bishopric of Cologne, to which at that time Malmedy belonged, and the Holy See. In order to resolve the issue, the Vatican created the temporary diocese of Malmedy-Eupen-Sankt Vith, assigned to the Bishop of Liege. The seat of this diocese was also in Malmedy. The local parish church suddenly saw its rank lifted to that of a cathedral – a status that the people of Malmedy ascribe to it even today, despite the fact that the short-lived Episcopal See was removed back to Liege again in 1925.

During this period, the division of the canton Malmedy occurred when it lost its German-speaking parishes and these formed now the new canton of St.Vith. Malmedy retained in this move only the parishes of Waimes and Malmedy that together form even today the so-called ‘Malmedy Walloon’ area.

As in other parts of the region, in the period between the two Great Wars, Malmedy was marked on the one hand by a confrontation between the advocates of the status quo terms of the Treaty of Versailles and on the other hand those who propagated the re-annexation to Germany. This confrontation came further to a head after Hitler took power and the Nazi regime supported the active militants who called for the annexation to Germany. Even a political party was formed calling itself the “Heimattreue Front” (Patriotic Front) and the party manifesto openly declared annexation with Germany, while some members also openly supported Nazi principles.