At Young Pioneer Tours we do like a controversial former country – particularly when they’re both weird and obscure. Neutral Moresnet, luckily, ticks both of these boxes for us.
Where was Neutral Moresnet located?
Neutral Moresnet existed between the kingdoms of Belgium and Prussia, and was technically a condominium between the two countries. The nation existed between 1816 and 1920.
Did it have its own flags and stamps?
Yes it did! Check out the pics below.
What’s the history behind Neutral Moresnet?
Despite Europe now being a peaceful EUtopia, it has not always been thus. Following the defeat of Napoleon and the treaty of Vienna, drawing borders proved a bit hard. To satiate both the newly-formed United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Prussian Empire, zinc-rich Moresnet was to be jointly administered between the two.
In 1830, when Belgium gained independence, they took over the claim on the Dutch side. The Netherlands, for its part, never actually ceded their claim on Moresnet. This would make things interesting later.
Moresnet between 1830-1914
Over the next 85 years or so, both the Belgian and Prussian governments sorta ignored Moresnet. During this time the Moresnetians, left to their own devices, developed their own flags, stamps and currency, much like a proper little country! They were also de facto ruled by a mining company called Vieille Montagne. An unrecognised country basically controlled by a monolithic corporation? Where have we heard that before…
The Moresnetians almost had their own language, in fact…
Was Neutral Moresnet the first Esperanto state?
It’s often claimed that this is the case, but in fact it was simply an idea that was mooted in the early 20th century. To speakers of Esperanto, however, it still holds a special place in their heart.
What’s the story with neutral Moresnet today?
In the Pre-U there was, alas, the odd war, and one of these wars was so big that it earned the sobriquet of the ‘Great War’. One could argue that many elements of this war were not actually that great.
During both World War I and its blockbuster sequel, World War II, Moresnet was annexed by the Germans. However, since Germany ultimately wobbled on the dismount on both occasions, the territory was returned to the Belgians.
Can you still visit Neutral Moresnet?
Yes, but only if you really like chips and mayo, as you basically visiting Belgium. Not that there’s anything wrong with Belgium or chips and mayo.