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Note to III, 31-Continued
The Belgian chief of staff concluded with the French chief of staff on September 7, 1920 a military understanding "to reinforce the guaranties of peace and security resulting from the Covenant of the League of Nations" and by an exchange of notes of September 10, 15, 1920 (2 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 128) gave the understanding a political status. The terms of military cooperation were revised as the occasion arose, lastly on March 6, 1936.
Belgium's position was greatly altered by Germany's repudiation of the Locarno treaty of guaranty. Its policy was to keep outside of any disputes of its neighbors and to be able to dissuade any neighbor from using its territory to attack another state. The King of the Belgians enunciated the policy in a declaration of October 14, 1936. An agreement effected by exchange of notes on April 23, 1937 (178 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 185) recorded the release of Belgium from all obligations toward France and the United Kingdom resulting from the Treaty of Locarno or the proposals of March 19, 1936, while maintaining their undertakings of assistance to Belgium under both instruments. France and the United Kingdom took note of the desire of the Belgian Government concerning its interests, in particular—
"(1) the determination expressed publicly and on more than one occasion by the Belgian Government; (a) to defend the frontiers of Belgium with all its forces against any aggression or invasion, and to prevent Belgian territory from being used, for purposes of aggression against another State, as a passage or as a base of operations by land, by sea or in the air; (b) to organize the defence of Belgium in an efficient manner for this purpose;
"(2) the renewed assurances of the fidelity of Belgium to the Covenant of the League of Nations and to the obligations which it involves for Members of the League.”
It suited Germany to follow this lead six months later. On October 13, 1937, seeing that conclusion of a treaty to replace that of Locarno would take considerable time, Germany in its note to Belgium made the following declaration:
"1 The German Government has taken note of the views to which the Belgian Government has given expression by virtue of its own competence; to wit,
a) that it intends to pursue in full sovereignty a policy of independence,
Note to III, 31—Continued
b) that it is determined to defend the frontiers of Belgium with all its forces against any aggression or invasion, and to prevent Belgian territory from being used, for purposes of aggression against any other State, as a passage (Durchmarschland) or as a base of operations by land, by sea or in the air; and to organize the defence of Belgium in an efficient manner for the purpose.
“2 The German Government affirms that the inviolability and the integrity of Belgium are in the common interest of the Western Powers. It confirms its resolution under no circumstances to prejudice this inviolability and integrity and at all times to respect Belgian territory, except, of course, in the event that Belgium, in an armed conflict in which Germany is involved, should collaborate in any military action directed against Germany.
"3 The German Government is prepared, equally with the British and French Governments, to enter into undertakings of assistance in respect of Belgium, in case it should be the object of any aggression or invasion.”
On May 10, 1940 German troops invaded Belgium and the Netherlands without warning and without provocation. In a memorandum to each Government the German Government alleged that they had not preserved "the strictest neutrality in the event of war between Germany on the one hand and Britain and France on the other". The phrasing of the 1937 declaration was used in supporting this argument.
Germany recognizes the full sovereignty of Belgium over the whole of the contested territory of Moresnet (called Moresnet neutre).
Germany renounces in favour of Belgium all rights and title over the territory of Prussian Moresnet situated on the west of the road from Liége to Aix-la-Chapelle; the road will belong to Belgium where it bounds this territory.
Note to III, 32, 33
Moresnet, formerly part of the duchy of Limburg, was divided into three sections in 1815, the eastern part going to Prussia, the western to the Netherlands (later to Belgium), and the central portion, then important for its zinc mines, becoming neutral territory
Note to III, 32, 33—Continued
under the joint administration of special commissioners acting for Prussia and the Netherlands (later Belgium). In 1919 Prussian Moresnet (1.31 square miles) was a part of the Kreis of Eupen. The cession of neutral Moresnet (1.21 square miles) brought all of historical Moresnet under Belgian jurisdiction.
Moresnet, Eupen, and Malmédy constituted the Belgian side of a frontier zone over against a strip of territory on the German side 15 kilometers in, breadth by an agreement between the two countries concerning the granting of facilities in frontier traffic to the nationals of the two countries residing in the frontier zones, signed at Aix-laChapelle, July 1, 1926, and in force August 1, 1926 (62 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 127).
Germany renounces in favour of Belgium all rights and title over the territory comprising the whole of the Kreise of Eupen and of Malmédy.
During the six months after the coming into force of this Treaty, registers will be opened by the Belgian authorities at Eupen and Malmédy in which the inhabitants of the above territory will be entitled to record in writing a desire to see the whole or part of it remain under German sovereignty.
The results of this public expression of opinion will be communicated by the Belgian Government to the League of Nations, and Belgium undertakes to accept the decision of the League.
Note to III, 34
The Kreise (circles) of Eupen and Malmédy, while never forming part of Belgium, had developed an anti-Prussian feeling following a decree suppressing the use of the French language in the municipal administration of Malmédy. The Belgian negotiators at Paris argued for the cession of the Kreis of Malmédy and presented a strategic map which showed Eupen on the Belgian side. The Commission on Belgian and Danish Affairs of the preliminary peace conference was unwilling to sanction a cession of the Kreis but was willing to go as far as this article provides. The German delegation in its comments of May 29, 1919 on the Conditions of Peace objected to the arrangement on the ground that the districts had never belonged to Belgium and that the registration would not constitute a plebiscite. The Germans claimed that Moresnet and Prussian Moresnet had German majorities, that Eupen was almost purely
Note to III, 34—Continued
German, and that in Malmédy the Walloons were "considerably in the minority" (out of a total population of 60,000, five sixths were German) (Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, VI, 824). The German Government could not consent "as a matter of principle" to the surrender of this territory; furthermore, no real plebiscite was provided for. Germany was prepared to supply wood from the Eupen forests as compensation to Belgium bat could not consent to "transferring human beings from one suzerainty to another, purely on account of timber and zinc ore".
The Allied reply pointed out that when these territories were separated from the Belgian lands in 1814-15, "no account was taken of the desires of the people, nor of geographical or linguistic frontiers" and that the region had continued to maintain "close economic and social relations" with Belgium (ibid., p. 941). In spite of a century of Prussification, the Walloon element had not entirely disappeared. Furthermore, the territory had been "a basis for German militarism", notably the camp at Elsenborn. As regards neutral Moresnet, the old dispute was now settled in favor of Belgium; the transfer provided "partial compensation for the destruction of Belgian forests".
These unusual provisions involved a renunciation of territory to be confirmed as a cession by measures entrusted to the cessionary. The registers provided for were opened on January 23, 1920 by the Belgian Royal High Commissioner for the Districts of Eupen and Malmédy. The regulations confined the registration to men and women 21 years or more of age who had been domiciled there since August 1, 1914 and were still established on January 10, 1920. During the six months that the registers were open, the Belgian administration was developed, Belgian money was substituted for German, and a general strike occurred. The German Government protested both to the peace conference and to the League of Nations respecting the method of conducting the expression of opinion. The registers were closed on July 23 and transmitted to Geneva by the Belgian Government on August 17. The Belgian report stated that only 271 inhabitants out of a population of 63,940 (30,000 being qualified to register) wished to see the whole or part of the territory remain under Germany.
After examining the Belgian records and further German representations and protests, the Council of the League of Nations recognized the definitive transfer of the districts of Eupen and Malmédy to Belgium by a resolution of September 16, 1920. Ger
Note to III, 34-Continued
many in further protests sought to bring the matter before the first session of the Assembly in November 1920; the documents were laid before the delegates to that session without action on their part. Germany unsuccessfully sought for reconsideration by the second session of the Assembly in 1921.
The Committee of Experts which worked out the New (Young) Plan in 1929 for settlement of the reparation problem included in its consideration the liquidation of Belgian claims to reimbursement for the German marks issued in the country during the war of 1914-18. It was agreed by the committee that those negotiations should be concluded before the New (Young) Plan came into force, and the Belgian and German members in their tentative opening of the subject found themselves in complete disagreement concerning the German efforts to link the mark question with an adjustment of the Eupen-Malmédy cession. The American members of the committee obtained on June 4, 1929 in a formal letter from the German expert an assurance that "no territorial questions will be raised in these negotiations" for settling the mark claim. In consequence of this assurance the Belgian experts agreed to sign the report of the committee with their colleagues on June 7 before the mark negotiations, which were not completed until July 13, were terminated.
A Commission of seven persons, five of whom will be appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, one by Germany and one by Belgium, will be set up fifteen days after the coming into force of the present Treaty to settle on the spot the new frontier line between Belgium and Germany, taking into account the economic factors and the means of communication.
Decisions will be taken by a majority and will be binding on the parties concerned.
Note to III, 35
Eupen and Malmédy, with St. Vith, were placed under a Belgian Royal High Commissioner by a law of September 15, 1919. The Belgo-German Delimitation Commission fixed the boundary by a protocol signed at Aix-la-Chapelle on November 6, 1922 (Moniteur Belge, Mar. 7, 1925, p. 1050).
The cantons of Eupen, Malmédy, and St. Vith were united for political and juridical purposes with the arrondissement of Verviers by a Belgian law of March 7, 1925.