‘Sounding Them Out’ Herman Baltia and the Installation of the Eupen-Malmedy Government
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On 10 January 1920, Herman Baltia established a provisional government in ‘New Belgium’ headquartered in Malmedy. Historically, Baltia remains a marginal figure, despite his significant contribution to Belgium’s recent past. This chapter makes use of his personal reminiscences during the war and his official reports to the Belgian authorities from 1920 to enable a hitherto unrealized portrayal of Baltia from soldier to royal high commissioner. Invested with full legislative and executive powers, Baltia’s role has been described as dictatorial. This misattribution is assessed along with an examination of the relationship between his regime and the Belgian state. Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and anti-Belgian agitation in Eupen-Malmedy, Baltia’s first undertaking would be to oversee a popular consultation on the future status of the territory.