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Memories of Amikejo
October 24, 2012 11:44 AM   Subscribe

In the first decade of the 20th Century, a German Chief Justice was asked to hear the case of a man who had recently been found guilty according to a law code enacted in the last years of Napoleon's short-lived empire. No state in Europe still used that exact set of laws, but in one small part of the continent, there was an 850 acre plot of land which no state had claimed since the final defeat of Napoleon: Neutral Moresnet, also known as Kelmis, La Calamine or Amikejo. In To Govern, or Not to Govern: Prussia, Neutral Moresnet [pdf, click 'Download This Paper'] Steven Michael Press explains how Neutral Moresnet came to be, and how the Chief Justice ruled in the case. For more information, visit the Neutral Moresnet website. For an account by a visitor, read Unvisited Places of Old Europe by American travel writer Robert Shackleton [starts on page 157]. Finally, here's a podcast lecture by journalist and historian Neal Ascherson called Memories of Amikejo [iTunes link] reflecting on Neutral Moresnet's short existence and whether it tells us something about modern Europe. [Neutral Moresnet previously on MetaFilter]
posted by Kattullus (21 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
In the previous thread about Neutral Moresnet, there's an entertaining fake hoax invented by orthogonality and blahblahblah.
posted by Kattullus at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heh, I haven't even started reading, but the fact that the Nuetral Moresnet has an Esperanto translation just made me want to read this even more.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:54 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So is it a hoax or not? Y/N answer.
posted by Damienmce at 11:58 AM on October 24, 2012


The hoax is a hoax, Neutral Moresnet was real.
posted by Kattullus at 12:00 PM on October 24, 2012


What about Alanis Moresnet?
posted by Floydd at 12:07 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


More Neutral Moresnet pieces at Strange Maps and Twelve Mile Circle.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:11 PM on October 24, 2012


What about Alanis Moresnet?

She only visits Neutural Moresnet ironically.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:14 PM on October 24, 2012


, but in one small part of the continent, there was an 850 acre plot of land which no state had claimed since the final defeat of Napoleon

Is there not a feature in Dutch law which allows the Netherlands to temporarily "cede" a small portion of Dutch territory to another country for the purposes of legal prosecution? Wasn't this how the Scottish court in Lockerbie, for example, was convened? And also the basis for the ICC in The Hague? (which happens to be next to the building I work once a month.)
posted by three blind mice at 12:30 PM on October 24, 2012


Just wait till they get the bomb.
posted by stargell at 12:34 PM on October 24, 2012


Neutral Moresnet, also known as Kelmis, La Calamine or Amikejo.

This reminds me of the Wendish language, also known as Sorbian, or Lusatian. Oh Europe, where the smaller something is, the more different names it has.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:37 PM on October 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


What about Alanis Moresnet?

What about Neutral Moresnet Hotel? Are they getting back together now that Jeff Mangum is touring again?
posted by onebadparadigm at 12:46 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Another border oddity in that area is the Vennbahn, an abandoned railway whose trackbed is Belgian territory, but which enters Germany at five different points.
posted by Skeptic at 1:20 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And speaking of border oddities and the Dutch, there is/are the Dutch/Belgian towns of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau. Instead of a continuous border, as with many internationally divided towns, the border looks like a case of measles. In one notable spot, there's a piece of Belgium inside a piece of the Netherlands inside of a piece of Belgium (or possibly the other way around, I was drunk when I saw it).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baarle-Hertog

We meant to visit Neutral Moresnet on the same trip, but it was a complicated series of buses away from Liége.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 1:48 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Neutral Moresnet, also known as Kelmis, La Calamine

This is where the term "Calamine Lotion" comes from: it's a zinc compound (Neutral Moresnet's economy was mostly based on zinc mining). However, in French, it's pronounced "cala-mean," not "cala-mine" like in English.

I actually visited there where taking a tour of the German-Speaking Community of Belgium, and I put my foot in three countries at once. Neutral Moresnet had been under joint administration by the Netherlands and Prussia since the end of the Napoleonic wars. When Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in the 1830s, it took over the Dutch state's role in the condominium; after German unification in 1871, the German state was responsible for Prussia's role. After World War I, the area was directly annexed by Belgium.
posted by dhens at 1:57 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


We meant to visit Neutral Moresnet on the same trip, but it was a complicated series of buses away from Liége.

This sounds like a sentence early in a novel. Preferably a novel featuring Man Ray and/or André Breton. If some imaginary wrestling could also be in the novel, that would be very nice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:31 PM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Morsenet was invented by Samuel F. B. Morse. It preceded Usenet by about 100 years.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:47 PM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is great, thank you for posting about it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:33 PM on October 24, 2012


'Amikejo' is something like "Friends' Place" in Esperanto. Apparently there was an attempt to found an Esperantist state there. Very interesting; I hadn't heard of this area before.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:19 AM on October 25, 2012


Ascherson goes into the history of the Esperantists attempt to found a state in Neutral Moresnet. It's a fascinating story.
posted by Kattullus at 5:13 AM on October 25, 2012


Apparently there was an attempt to found an Esperantist state there.

Leading to an inevitable war with Volapükistan.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:55 AM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If some imaginary wrestling could also be in the novel, that would be very nice.

Sadly, no. There were some excellent meatballs involved in that leg of the trip, though, and the surliest Tintin vendor in all of Belgium.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 6:38 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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