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Tags Catharina Meessen , obituaries

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Old 7th February 2020, 02:37 PM   #1
erwinl
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Catharina Meessen RIP

Last Tuesday Catharina Meessen died at the tender age of 106.
Link (sorry. Dutch only).

Catharina was not an important person. In fact, I would be surprised if she ever really travelled far from the village where she was born and where she died.
But Catharina was unique in Europe in that her birth certificate mentions her being stateless and born in Neutral Moresnet. A tiny sliver of land, neither Belgian nor German, but lying between these two countries.

With her passing, the existence of this remarkable place, Neutral Moresnet, passes into the realm of history and away from living memory.
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Old 7th February 2020, 02:48 PM   #2
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I find this interesting, thank you.
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Old 7th February 2020, 03:18 PM   #3
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Thank you for today's learning experience!
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Old 8th February 2020, 12:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Neutral Moresnet was a small Belgian–Prussian condominium ...

Catharina Meessen lived in a condo her whole life?!
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Old 9th February 2020, 09:16 AM   #5
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So, Moresnet isn't an improved version of the Internet?
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Old 9th February 2020, 12:26 PM   #6
Hans
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Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
Last Tuesday Catharina Meessen died at the tender age of 106.
Link (sorry. Dutch only).

Catharina was not an important person. In fact, I would be surprised if she ever really travelled far from the village where she was born and where she died.
But Catharina was unique in Europe in that her birth certificate mentions her being stateless and born in Neutral Moresnet. A tiny sliver of land, neither Belgian nor German, but lying between these two countries.

With her passing, the existence of this remarkable place, Neutral Moresnet, passes into the realm of history and away from living memory.
Yes interesting I'd come across that before in a discussion on the small German speaking areas of Belgium.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German...ity_of_Belgium

There is mention of Kelmis and a link to Moresnet
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Old 11th February 2020, 06:30 AM   #7
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Talking of German/Belgian borders, here's Tim Traveller on the subject of the Vennbahn.

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Old 11th February 2020, 12:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Talking of German/Belgian borders, here's Tim Traveller on the subject of the Vennbahn.

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And speaking of Belgium and borders, there's the crack-tastic Belgian/Dutch border at Baarle-Nassau:
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Old 11th February 2020, 12:46 PM   #9
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You've got to love a border where you can essentially just step over another country like its a puddle.
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Old 11th February 2020, 01:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by KDLarsen View Post
And speaking of Belgium and borders, there's the crack-tastic Belgian/Dutch border at Baarle-Nassau:
I recognize that one patch. That's old man Hooijdonk's place. No way was that old bastard going pledge fealty to the Kingdom of Belgium!
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Old 12th February 2020, 04:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by KDLarsen View Post
And speaking of Belgium and borders, there's the crack-tastic Belgian/Dutch border at Baarle-Nassau:
That's the result of a particularly kinky game of "Twister", isn't it??
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Old 12th February 2020, 04:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
That's the result of a particularly kinky game of "Twister", isn't it??
It's the only border in the world, that I know of, where you can emigrate by just moving the frontdoor of your house with the border going right through the middle a number of houses. The position of your frontdoor determins which country you're living in.
It's been done in one occasion, if I remember correctly, by someone who really wanted to live in Belgium.
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Old 12th February 2020, 05:01 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
Last Tuesday Catharina Meessen died at the tender age of 106.
105. Almost 106.

Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
Link (sorry. Dutch only).
I am looking at the birth certificate - I find interesting the header of the form:
Originally Posted by Birth Certificate
Nr. 37 - Geburts-Urkunde - Geburtsurkunde von Meessen Catharina Cäzilia
Bürgermeisterei Neutral-Moresnet - Kreis Eupen - Government- and State Court District Aachen
The second line describes the place, Neutral-Moresnet, as belonging (administratively) to county Eupen, district Aachen - a part of Germany. This is not quite right: It was governed by two Royal Commissioners, one appointed by the Belgian King, one by the Prussian King. The Royal Commissioners in turn appointed the mayor.
Neutral-Moresnet had no own courts of justice, so its inhabitants would take any cases to courts in either Germany (Aachen, usually) or Belgium (Verviers or Liège). The law was neither Belgian nor German but still the Napoleonic Code Civil as it was 1815. Keeping tab on inhabitants by recording certificates of births, marriages and deaths was an important introduction of the Code Civil.

Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
...
With her passing, the existence of this remarkable place, Neutral Moresnet, passes into the realm of history and away from living memory.
Of the 60 border stones that once marked Neutral-Moresnet, 50 are still in place. The mining company that essentially ruled it for most of its existence (N-M had the only large mineable zinc deposits in continental Europe as of 1815) is still in existence (or rather it can be traced to the presence through a series of mergers and stuff).

[Edited to add:]
The birth certificate informs us that Catharina's father, 21 years young, was a "Bergmann" (miner) by profession - despite zinc mining having been discontinued 29 years earlier. I would guess he may have worked in coal mining in the Aachen black coal mining district. The two witnesses named on the certificate were "Tagelöhner" and "Gehilfe" - day laborer and helping hand.

The certificate has two notes on the right margin in French. My French is very basic, and I have to look up words, so take what I translate with a grain of salt.
The first note, dated 04. May 1947, states that Catharina, whose husband is on a list of people who had their Belgian citizenship revoked, has her own Belgian citizenship revoked.
The second note, dated 30. September 1949, I think says that the aforementioned note is to be considered null and void. Could someone confirm this whose French is better than mine?
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Last edited by Oystein; 12th February 2020 at 05:15 AM. Reason: ETA
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