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Bütgenbach (Municipality, Province of Liège, Belgium)


Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Butgenbach]

Municipal flag of Bütgenbach - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 17 January 2006

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Presentation of Bütgenbach and its villages

The municipality of Bütgenbach (in French, Butgenbach; 5,585 inhabitants on 1 January 2007; 9,731 ha) is located in the Eifel massif, close to the border with Germany. It is one of the members of the German-speaking Community in Belgium. The municipality of Bütgenbach is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Bütgenbach, Berg, Elsenborn, Elsenborn-Camp, Küchelscheid-Leykaul, Nidrum and Weywertz.

Bütgenbach (1,507 inh.) is the administrative center of the municipality. The village is located in the valley of Warche, on lake Bütgenbach. The lake has a volume of 11 million cubic meters and an area of 120 ha. The barrage is made of 11 vaults with a total length of 140 m and a height of 23 m.
The former villa Kirch was used as the advanced headquarters by the allied troops during the Battle of the Bulge. General and later President of the USA Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed a few days in the villa.

Berg (314 inh.) is located on the top of a hill dominating the northern shore of lake Bütgenbach.

Elsenborn (919 inh.) is located on a watershed and is considered as one of the highest villages in Belgium. The highest point of the municipality of Bütgenbach is located there (635 m). The village emerged, as Etzelborn, since 1501, but became an independent parish only in 1803. During the administration of the Eastern Cantons by General Baltia, Bütgenbach was split into four municipalities, one of them being Elsenborn (itself including Elsenborn, Nidrum, Küchelscheid and Leykaul), reincorporated into Bütgenbach in 1976.
Winter in the Eifel is particularly harsh, therefore the dictums:
Ô Elsenborn, Ô Elsenborn
Le Seigneur te créa dans sa colère.

O! Elsenborn, O! Elsenborn,
The Lord created you in his wrath.

Ô Elsenborn au sommet de l'Eifel,
Nul Dieu ne te créa,
Le Diable te créa.

O! Elsenborn on the top of the Eifel,
No God created you,
The Devil created you.

Elsenborn-Camp (125 inh.) is named after the military camp that covers 26% of the municipal territory (area, 27 sq. km; perimeter, 32 km; mean elevation, 600 m).
The camp, then one of the largest in the Reich, was built by the Prussians in 1894 for the training of the 8th corps commanded by General Baron Von Loe and stationed in Coblence, after the camp of Juliers had been deemed too small. The building of the camp started in 1895 and was completed in 1901. It could house three brigades, that is 4,000-5,000 men. Infantry and cavalry trained together under live bullets. During the First World War, the camp was used as a training center for the troops sent to the frontline; he was also used as an ammunition depot and as a jail for Polish prisoners and the famous priest Pietkin from Sourbrodt, who resisted the Germanization of the area. The camp was abandoned at the end of the war without fighting and resettled by British and Canadian troops for a month in December 1918. On 6 December, the first British occupation troops under Belgian command arrived in Elsenborn. On 1 March 1920, the camp was completely retroceded to the Belgian army, which increased and modernized it.
The Germans seized the nearly abandoned camp on 10 May 1940 and revamped it, using Polish, Serbian and, later, Russian prisonners as workers. The US Air Force attacked the camp on 9 August 1944; the 9th Infantry Division occupied it on 12 September 1944. The camp was targeted by V1s and nicknamed Buzz Bomby Alley. However, it was not further damaged during the Battle of the Bulge. After the Liberation, the camp was totally revamped by the Belgian Army, which still uses it, mostly for artillery training.

Küchelscheid-Leykau (81 inh.), the northern part of the municipality of Bütgenbach, is located on the German border. The two hamlets are 15 km away from the center of the municipality and are very isolated since the suppression of the customs post. The hamlets were once part of the German village of Kalterherberg. They do not have either public buildings or a church.

Nidrum (855 inh.) is located on a hillside dominating the valley of Warche. The village became an independent parish in 1898. The cemetary houses the graves of the Russian soldiers who died in the camp of Elsenborn. Cross-country skiing can be practiced in Nidrum, as well as in Elsenborn and Weywertz.

Weywertz (1.743 inh.) is the biggest village in the Belgian Eifel and a rail junction. The village spreads on a length of 4 km, partially on a watershed and partially down into the valley. Weywertz is known since 1461 as Wivertz or Wiverhuis, that is Weiberhuis, in German, "a women's house". The main monument of the village is the linden, more than 300 year old and nearly 20-m high. The old white mill located on the Warche provided electricity for the first time in the region for Christmas evening in 1912.


Ivan Sache, 17 January 2006

Municipal flag of Bütgenbach

The municipal flag of Bütgenbach is red with two white shovels crossed in saltire. The flag is a banner of the municipal arms.

According to Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, the arms of Bütgenbach, De gueules à deux pelles d'argent posées en sautoir ("Gules two shovels argent per saltire") were adopted by the Municipal Council on 29 March 1984, 22 May 1986 and 7 May 1987, and confirmed by the Executive of the German-speaking Community on 24 February 1988.
The shovels recall peat extraction for heating, once the base of the local industry (manufacturing of peat briquettes).

Arnaud Leroy, Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 20 April 2008

Royal Yacht Club de la Warche

Royal Yacht Club de la Warche (RYCW), active in light sailing, is located on the artificial lake made on the Warche.
The burgee of RYCW, as shown on the website of the FFYB, is blue with a white cross having a blue royal crown in its centre and the white letters RY (upper part) and CW (lower part) placed in the blue fields.

Jan Mertens, 21 February 2007