In July 2010, the then Minister-President of the German-speaking Community, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, together with Stephan Förster, head of the department for foreign affairs and regional development, requested East Belgian historians to develop a concept for a multi-volume documentation of the region’s history. The 12-man working group worked until November 2011 on developing a concept for a 6-volume series on the history of East Belgium. It was to be entitled “Grenzerfahrungen. Eine Geschichte der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft Belgiens”.
In December 2013, the German-speaking Community commemorated the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Council of the German Cultural Community (1973) and the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the first government (1984). This gave rise to the 5th volume of “Grenzerfahrungen” dealing with the period from 1945 to 1973.
The working group quickly realised that any professional history of the region could not remain limited to the publication of the “Grenzerfahrungen” series. They requested further staff and funding, made available by the government of the German-speaking Community in the context of the Regional Development Concept.
On 25 November 2014, the Centre for Regional History in the German-speaking Community (“Zentrum für Regionalgeschichte in der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft” or ZRDG for short) was set up as a non-profit association on the premises of the State Archives in Eupen. The members of the new association included historical and museum associations from the region, the State Archives, village groups and individuals interested in history and the Belgian Broadcasting Corporation.
They elected an Executive Board which in turn elected Els Herrebout, head of the State Archives in Eupen, as its first president. At the same time, the Advisory Board was established, made up of professional historians and providing support for the academic quality of the research activities.
On 1 September 2013, Carlo Lejeune was appointed managing director of the centre, conducting its day-to-day business in a part-time capacity.
This set-up provided the basis for developing new projects, including an audio-visual database made up of contemporary interviews, preparations for developing a website, etc.). At the same time, further volumes of the “Grenzerfahrungen” series were published.
In July 2017, the centre was renamed the Centre for East Belgian History / Zentrum für Ostbelgische Geschichte (ZOG). As a platform for exchanging historical information in East Belgium, it now unites nearly all people and institutions researching the history of German-speaking East Belgium. It sees itself as a service provider for its members. Thanks to its structure, the centre is able to coordinate academic and non-academic work on the history of the German-speaking Community and to support politico-historical education at all levels, from universities to village history associations.
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