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Welkenraedt (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)

Welkenrath, Welkenraat

Last modified: 2015-07-28 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Welkenraedt

The municipality of Welkenraedt (also written Welkenraat in Dutch; in German, Welkenrath; 9,237 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 2,447 ha) is located mid distance of Verviers and Aachen (Germany), not far either from the border with the Netherlands. The municipality of Welkenraedt is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Welkenraedt (7,156 inh.) and Henri-Chapelle (in Dutch, Hendrikkapelle; 2,081 inh.).

Welkenraedt belonged until the French Revolution to the Ban of Baelen, a district of the Duchy of Limburg. On the 24 Brumaire of the Year III (14 November 1794), the Ban of Baelen, became a municipality included in the district (canton) of Limbourg, with Welkenraedt as one of its "dependencies". The former Duchy of Limbourg was incorporated in October 1795 into the Département of the Ourthe. On 10 January 1797, the territorial limits of the dependency of Welkenraedt were fixed; the three sections of the dependency were set up on 1 January 1797 as Aubergeval (today, Herbesthal), Limonval (Welkenraedt) and Lance-au-Mont (Lançaumont). The Ban of Baelen was eventually dismembered by the Decree of the 22 Prairial of the Year V (10 June 1797), so that Welkenraedt became a "municipal agency" (that is, a municipality with less than 5,000 inhabitants included in the district of Limbourg). The municipal agencies were suppressed under the Consulate by the Law of the 28 Pluviose of the Year VIII (17 February 1800), so that Welkenraedt became a "true" municipality.
The name of the village was eventually fixed only at the end of the First Empire. Beforehand, the village appeared on maps and in written documents as Vekelrat, Wekelart, Wekelrat, Welkenraad, Welkenraat, Welkenrad, Welekenraet, Welckenraedt, Welekenrodt and Welkenrot. The origin of the name of the village is still disputed, with two most probable etymologies, referring to "Welcherot", "the Walloons' Clearing", and to the Welkenhuysen family, respectively.
On 28 June 1816, a treaty signed by the Netherlands and Prussia allocated Herbesthal (then with 47 houses and 215 inhabitants) to Prussia (the village was reallocated to Belgium in 1919 but incorporated into the municipality of Lontzen) while the other villages were incorporated into the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Incroporated into the Kingdom of Belgium in 1830, Welkenraedt thrived after the building of the international railway station, on the Liège-Aachen line, in 1843; the depot included up to 120 steam locomotives. The industrialization of the village followed, with mines granted to the Société de la Vieille Montagne in 1845 and the building of workers' estates in the borough of La Bruyère, the set up of the Ferbeck factory in 1875 (they would build the highest chimney in the world in Elisabethville, Belgian Congo) and the opening of new iron and lead mines in 1891.

Henri-Chapelle was granted municipal rights by the Duke of Limburg in 1263. The American War Cemetery of Henri-Chapelle, inaugurated on 9 July 1960, has 7,989 tombs scattered over an area of 23 ha. Most of the soldiers resting here were killed during the Battle of the Bulge and the invasion of Rhineland, together with the allied airmen shot over Belgium.
The cemetery is, indeed, not located on the municipal territory of Henri-Chapelle but on the municipal territory of Hombourg (incorporated into Plombières in 1976). The erroneous name given to the cemetery during its set up was not corrected to avoid subsequent confusion, since it was already famous in the USA.
Henri-Chapelle has a Road Museum, an odd, outdoor museum in which an historical sequence of six road surfaces is shown, from a Roman way to the XXth century.


Ivan Sache, 22 December 2007

Municipal flag of Welkenraedt

The municipal flag of Welkenraedt is described in Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones as a white flag with a red lion, a forked tail crossed per saltire, a yellow crown and claws and a blue tongue.
The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

The arms of Welkenraedt (Azur au lion de gueules à la queue fourchée passée en sautoir, armé et couronné d'or, lampassé d'azur) are quite similar to the arms of the Duchy of Limburg, but the lion has the tongue blue instead of red.
According to the Welkenraedt unofficial website, the municipal arms before and after the incorporation of Henri-Chapelle differ only by the saint holding the shield. The patron saint of Welkenraedt, St. John the Baptist, was replaced by the patron saint of Henrichapelle, St. George, portraying as a rider slaying the dragon.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 22 December 2007

Flag used in the Carnival of Welkenraedt

[Carnaval flag]

Flag used during the Carnival of Welkenraedt - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 23 July 2005

During the 2006 carnival of Welkenraedt, one of the floats was heavily decorated with vertically divided red-yellow-red flags, but there is no hint on what they represent.

Ivan Sache, 22 December 2007