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148254.  Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:52 am Reply with quote

Thanks for your reply Vitali, my problem with the "giving birth on one side of the room rather than the other" is not so much the fact that they gave birth at home, rather that the child benefits would not be decided by the position of birth but by the position of the front door.

Even if the child was born in the house posted above by Flash, and indeed even if it was in the room whose window is neatly bisected by the dotted line, the benefits would be decided by the country in which the house is registered.

Or maybe not, I'm not the expert, the "giving birth" fact was my favourite part of this subject and I'm just trying to get a handle on it.

Welcome to the team btw.

148273.  Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:40 am Reply with quote

Thanks again, everyone. I think that the European enclaves open up a plethora of possibilities for good questions. In response to the last query: whereas the tax-paying status of a house can be, say, Belgian (due to the front door being in Belgium), this doesn't stop a TENANT (and - unlike the English - most Dutch people still rent!), who rents a room in the Dutch part of the house to pay Dutch income tax and therefore be covered by the Dutch child-benefit scheme! Or vice versa...
One more interesting detail re: Baarle - it is the only place in the world where one can find the so-called SUB-ENCLAVES, e.g. a patch of Holland inside Belgium which, in its turn, has a patch of Belgium inside it! A Matrioshka-doll scenario!
How did it all start? From a medieval dispute between two warring dukes. After an umpteenth conflict, the winning duke - in a gesture of appeasement - volunteered to return to the losing party a part of the territory he had captured from him, BUT kept all inhabited (read tax-paying) bits (residential dwellings, farmhouses with bits of farmland etc) for himself. With time, many of the buildings disappeared and the patches of land where they used to stand became enclaves on the territory of the foreign country.

148275.  Sat Feb 17, 2007 8:55 am Reply with quote

A couple of other QI points re: Baarle (there's literally no end to them):
1. Parking regulations. The easiest way to avoid getting a parking ticket in Baarle is to park your car with its back in Belgium and its bumper - in Holland (or vice versa) which is quite possible. Thus you confuse both Belgian and Dutch traffic policemen who wouldn't know whether they are entitled to issue a ticket!
2. The same applies to the town's rubbish dump. The border runs straight thrugh the middle of it! I think this was done deliberately, for it allows to the stuff that is banned from dumping in one country (like asbestos, say) to be disposed of three metres away - in the neighbouring country that does not have the same restrictions!
3. If a Dutch policeman on the beat sees an offence being committed in the street, he has to be sure it is happening on the Dutch territory (and that can be difficult) before intervening. If an offence is occurring on the foreign - say, Belgian, territory (even if it is one metre away from him), he can only watch and - in an extreme scenario - carry out a "citizen's arrest" and inform his Belgiam colleagues.

148459.  Sun Feb 18, 2007 7:37 am Reply with quote

this doesn't stop a TENANT (and - unlike the English - most Dutch people still rent!), who rents a room in the Dutch part of the house to pay Dutch income tax and therefore be covered by the Dutch child-benefit scheme! Or vice versa

Ok, sorry to carry-on, and I promise to let this lie after this.

This is very QI, that someone living in one country can claim benefits in another, but if we're now saying that the country who provide benefits depends on where one pays income tax, then surely the side of the house one gives birth is immaterial?

153455.  Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:10 am Reply with quote

Not an enclave as such, but this is a quite brilliant anomoly.

Market Island is the smallest island in the world which is split between two countries. It is the most Westerly part of Finland and is also claimed by Sweden.

One day the Finns decided to build a lighthouse on the Island, but the maps of the island were not available, so they accidentally built it on the Swedish side. They told the Swedes, who didn't mind as such, but neither country wanted to cede land, especially as it would effect fishing rights, so the two countries decided to re-draw the border into this delightful shape:

Original Source
Also various internet sources, the wiki on this subject is excellent.

Last edited by eggshaped on Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:35 am; edited 1 time in total

153456.  Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:17 am Reply with quote

Also this: posted by Jenny in QI News:

170 Swiss troops carrying assault rifles marched a mile into neighbouring Liechtenstein in the middle of the night. No international incident will result from this; the company got lost during a training exercise, crossed an unmarked border, and quickly retraced their steps when they realised their mistake.

However, even had the troops entered with ill intent, it is likely that no harm would have been done. They were carrying no ammunition for their rifles, and Liechtenstein has no army with which to defend itself.

What about "Which was the last European country to invade another?"

153546.  Sun Mar 04, 2007 4:11 pm Reply with quote

Allegedly, they were chased back by one elderly Liectenstein lady waving a rag...

153652.  Mon Mar 05, 2007 4:36 am Reply with quote

However, even had the troops entered with ill intent, it is likely that no harm would have been done. They were carrying no ammunition for their rifles, and Liechtenstein has no army with which to defend itself.

Since, as has been mentioned here before, Liechtenstein's defence is now looked after by Switzerland, I doubt there would have been any problem even if they had been carrying ammunition in their rifles.

Wouldn't it be analogous to English troops entering Scotland?

154123.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:38 am Reply with quote

More QI facts on Baarle - as per yesterday:

Europe/Enclaves/Baarle matters

1.Traffic accidents. With the deviant state border criss-crossing town squares, roads and car-parks, so that it is not unusual to have a car parked with its bumper in Belgium and its boot - in Holland, or vice versa, it is hard, at times impossible, to determine, on whose territory a traffic accident occurred. This in turn leads to problems of responsibility, insurance, police investigation (which police force should be entrusted with it - Dutch or Belgian?). On top of it, because car insurance premiums were more expensive in Belgium that in Holland (although cars and petrol were cheaper), Belgian car mechanics are reluctant to serve Dutch customers. Conclusion: when in Baarle, drive carefully.
2.Trespassing and policing. With both Dutch and Belgian policemen on duty strictly banned from operating on a foreign territory, Baarle cops have to be sure - literally - where exactly they stand - at any particular moment. Theoretically, if a Dutch policeman saw a woman attacked on the Belgian side of a street across the road, he could watch and register the assault but had no right to intervene.
The speed limit in the Belgian parts of Baarle is 60 km/h, whereas in the Dutch bits – it is 50. With the border running across every other road cobble, the absurdity of the situation is such that the Dutch police have to ignore the speeders staying within 60 km/h.
3.Draft-dodging. This problem became a thing of the past, when the armies in both Belgium and the Netherlands were made professional. Prior to that, Baarle was a paradise for both Dutch and Belgian draft-dodgers and deserters, who were able to avoid conscription indefinitely by changing their residential addresses from one country to another, which was in most cases easily achieved by moving to a house next door.
4. Ambulance and health services. Although Baarle's nearest ambulance station was in Belgium (about 5 miles from the town centre), its paramedics are not allowed to answer calls from foreign nationals, and all Dutch emergencies have to be dealt with by the nearest Dutch ambulance station in Breda - over 30 miles away. They have been trying to alter this ridiculous situation since 1980s by directly appealing to the relevant authorities both in Brussels and in the Hague, but received no help from either. Remembering the sad example of Mijnheer Theo Bloem, local GPs have to be careful as to where to have their surgeries. Dr. Bloem was qualified to practise in Holland, but not in Belgium. His surgery was attached to his house, which was in Belgium, next to the border, and one day Belgian local authorities decided he could no longer practise from their territory. The surgery had to be closed down, and Dr Bloem had to build a new one on Dutch soil thirty feet away - at considerable cost to himself. One recent incident, however, inspired hope that this bureaucratic cross-border madness could be overcome one day. Until several years ago, Baarle's Dutch psychiatric nursing home - an establishment that was probably in great demand due to the constant lunacy of the town's everyday life - wasn't allowed to accept Belgians. It so happened that a Belgian old lady, who lived 50 metres away from it, had to be urgently admitted to a psychiatric institution1, but the hospital next door refused to accommodate her, and she had to be taken to the nearest Dutch one - 50 miles away. The paradox of this was so obvious that the two Mayors, no longer willing to rely on assistance from their respective capitals, decided to resolve it between themselves, and by mutual agreement, the nursing home in question now has five beds, permanently reserved for Baarle's Belgian residents.
5.Law enforcement. Some time ago, a Dutch citizen was arrested by the Belgian police in Baarle-Hertog (i.e. on Belgian territory) and taken to a remand prison in the nearest Belgian town of Turnhout. In order to transport the offender there, the police had to go over Dutch territory: there was simply no other way out of the enclave. The detainee later argued in Court that his transportation across his native Holland, which did not result in his extradition to the Dutch authorities, was illegal from the point of view of international law, and he was acquitted! In 1997, when some European countries had a pigs' pest epidemic, the Dutch authorities banned transportation of pigs through their country. Belgium had no such ban, but when a Belgian farmer from Baarle tried to take his pigs to a slaughterhouse in "mainland" Belgium and therefore had to cross over Dutch territory, he was turned back by Dutch police. A similar scenario took stage in 2001, during the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic, which was taken by Dutch authorities much more seriously than by Belgian ones - all to the detriment of Baarle's long-suffering Belgian farmers who - again - found themselves locked up inside their exclaves with all the produce they were unable to sell.
6.Licencing. The difference between Belgian and Dutch licencing hours used to be blatantly exploited by landlords of several Baarle’s pubs, dissected by the frontier: they simply installed two sets of doors – one in each country. When they stopped selling alcohol in Holland, the patrons hastily left through the Dutch doors only to re-enter immediately through the Belgian ones to carry on boozing. This practice was eventually curtailed, and the two countries’ licensing laws were now fairly similar. But a slight discrepancy remained: in Holland they stopped selling alcohol at 2 am, in Belgium – at 3 am. So, come 2 am, all locals, who wanted to carry on partying, had to relocate to Belgian pubs, provided they could still walk, drive or cycle.

1.Which European town has two different speed limits for the same vehicles in the same street?
2.Which European town is administered by two different Mayors and supervised by two different national police forces?

154124.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:39 am Reply with quote

An interesting and little-known WWI episode:

Baarle saved London from being bombed in 1916.
During the First World War, all twenty-two Belgian enclaves of Baarle were occupied, whereas the town’s Dutch enclaves remained neutral. Inside one of those Dutch enclaves, there was (and still is) a tiny 40-square-metre-large Belgian sub-enclave, which the German army, for obvious reasons, was unable to access without violating Dutch neutrality. It was there, in that tiny unoccupied bit of Belgium, that the people of Baarle built a wireless tower, which was able to intercept German radio communications. Among those, was an early warning of the impending bombardment of London by three German airships (dirigibles). As a result, all three were shot down by the British artillery on their way to London, and the bombing never took place. It was one of the first air-defence operations in British military history. The wireless station continued to forewarn the British about impending air raids throughout 1917, when the first bomber-planes came into existence.
During World War II, it took twenty-eight days to liberate Baarle – the longest liberation time for any Dutch municipality, whereas neighbouring Breda and the whole of North Brabant were liberated in a single afternoon.
When the Belgians surrendered, the Nazis assumed the civil administration of Baarle-Hertog - the town's Belgian bits, whereas its Dutch outliers were administered by the German military government, because Holland did not capitulate and was therefore regarded as occupied enemy territory. When, after the town's liberation, the Dutch town hall was destroyed by gunfire, the Belgian Mayor of Baarle-Hertog temporarily permitted his Dutch counterpart to share the Belgian Town Hall across the road - an impressive example of the pre-EU cross-border cooperation across the street.

How did a tiny bit of Belgium save London during World War I?

154142.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:59 am Reply with quote

What is the world's only railway that is owned by one country and runs through another?

Vennbahn is a little Belgian railway line, cutting into German territory near Aachen to form five Belgian pockets (enclaves) inside it. It has no analogues anywhere in the world.
By international regulations, not just the track, but five metres of land on both sides of it, belongs to the country that owned the railway. That is why German police cannot deal with any offences on Vennbahn, albeit it runs through the German territory, but has to contact their Belgian colleagues instead.

Built in 1889 as a fully German railroad, it was given to Belgium by the Treaty of Versailles1 in the aftermath of the WWI. A special international commission agreed - after several years of deliberation - that part of Vennbahn, namely “the trackbed, with its buildings between Raeren and Kalterherbert”, was to be ceded to Belgium, whereas the resulting five enclaves were to “remain part of Germany”. The German names of all five stations on the stretch were retained, freight charges and fares could be paid in either German or Belgian currency, and countless German strict regulations about ticket-offices, waiting rooms, notice boards, left luggage, etc were all accepted by the Belgians. Both countries ran customs controls for both German and Belgian passengers at both ends of the section. And whereas conductors, pointsmen and other “minor” railway workers could be either Belgian or German, the train drivers had to be exclusively Belgian nationals!
On 18 May 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered that Belgium’s Cantons de l’Est be reannexed, and Vennbahn was triumphantly returned to service as a fully German railway line. During WWII, it was in much use supplying the German army until it was all but destroyed by the Allies’ offensive in the winter of 1944-45. Scarcely a viaduct was spared, and it was not until 1947 that Vennbahn was partially reopened under its previous – Belgian – ownership. By 1990, the railway had become commercially unviable, and the local community is now trying to raise money to transform it into a tourist attraction.

154143.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 8:00 am Reply with quote

More on Verenahof:

Verenahof – a patch of farmland, approximately eighteen acres in area, used to be part of the German commune Wiechs am Randen near Buttenhardt, about five hundred yards away from the German border. Its origins go back to the Middle Ages, when the Verena church (or a nunnery, according to another source) owned this portion of uncultivated land.
Verenahof’s highly unusual status was the product of the extreme irregularity (if not to say madness) of the German-Swiss border, which – unlike most “normal” frontiers – does not seem to follow the features of the landscape, but bends and zigzags at unexpected intervals.1 Through the ages, there have been numerous futile attempts by both countries to straighten it up somehow, and it was then that the status of Verenahof would inevitably become an issue.
The Swiss canton of Schaffhausen did have two chances to acquire Verenahof – in 1516 and in 1522, when Count Christoph von Tengen offered to sell it at bargain prices. But on both occasions the city elders, for reasons which are now unclear, refused the offers. As it often happens, when they changed their minds several years later, the train had already gone, to use the jargon of Russian market traders: the von Tengen family was no longer keen on selling.
In the aftermaths of the Napoleonic wars, when Talleyrandt - one of Napoleon’s most trusted lieutenants - pressurised the fragmented German states to merge into the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806, Verenahof fell under jurisdiction of the Grand Duchy of Baden. With the creation of a united Germany in 1871, it became an outlying part of the German Reich, whilst being completely owned by its Swiss residents (farmers), who were required by Swiss authorities to register as “overseas Swiss” at the Swiss consulate in Freiburg (Germany), despite the fact that the “overseas” territory in question was, in actual fact, part of the small Swiss village of Buttenhardt in the centre of the Swiss canton Schaffhausen!
Since 1854, when Verenahof was excluded from the German Customs area and up until its disenclavement in 1964 its status was not dissimilar to that of modern Busingen: its residents – three families of farmers - paid high German taxes on their Swiss franc earnings. The main difference was that, being Swiss – not German – citizens, Verenahof farmers and their family members could not vote in German elections. On the other hand, as “overseas Swiss”, they were not allowed to participate in Swiss municipal elections or to be elected to local (village and/or town) councils.
Also, due to endless red tape, required for arranging a routine German police visit to Verenahof 2, the minuscule German exclave ended up being de facto administered by the village authorities of Buttenhardt. By November, 1964 when, after eight years of painstaking negotiations, Germany and Switzerland finally signed a treaty, providing for Verenahof’s absorption by Switzerland (the treaty went into effect in 1967), its dwellers had come to refer to themselves neither as German or Swiss, but as “Buttenhardters”!
As I myself learned later in Verenahof, for the disenclavement to come into effect, a swap had to be agreed between Germany and Switzerland, whereby the latter had to donate eighteen acres of its precious territory to Germany in exchange for Verenahof. After years of deliberation, an unpopulated, infertile and rock-strewn patch, directly adjoining the German border, was offered. The Germans, naturally, were not happy with such exchange, and the difference in the quality of land had to be compensated with the sum of 600,000 Swiss francs, reluctantly coughed up by the Swiss government.
This little-known peaceful “annexation” signified the first and only (even if ever so slight) redrawing of Germany’s border since World War II.
By the early 1970s, Verenahof was “owned and inhabited by some twenty Swiss nationals” and consisted of “merely three farms and adjacent forest land”.


1.Which is the only part of Europe that changed hands between two countries in the last 50 years?
2.Which was the only instance of redrawing the borders of Germany after World War II?

155997.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:54 am Reply with quote

Enclaves/Verenahof/WW II

In April 1945, three German soldiers, led by Oberst von Hartlein – a senior SS officer, took refuge in Verenahof, then a small patch of German farmland on Swiss territory, and claimed they were in Germany (which they were indeed!) and hence out of reach of the French occupational forces, stationed across the German border several hundred yards away. A mini-diplomatic crisis ensued. The Swiss authorities in Berne were tipped off, and they alerted the French, who quickly realised that they had no power to extract the Germans, for to “occupy” Verenahof, they had to cross the territory of neutral Switzerland. To make matters worse, the Swiss farmers of Verenahof did not mind harbouring the Germans at all and were staunchly refusing all demands from Berne to extradite them or, at least, to stop giving them food – the request that clashed with their notion of hospitality. “We are farmers, and we will always feed our guests, no matter where they come from,” they were reported as saying.
In the end, an agreement was reached between the French and the Swiss, whereby the French would allow a small contingent of Swiss policemen to enter the German Verenahof (of which the former were theoretically in control, yet couldn’t set their feet onto it) to arrest the Nazis and to frogmarch them across five hundred yards of Swiss territory to the German border, where they would be handed over to the French occupational forces. And that was precisely what happened. The locals later reminisced that the farmers were not at all pleased with the incursion. The Nazis, naturally, were pleased even less, and the well-groomed Colonel (Oberst) von Hertlein was, allegedly, rather pissed off by the fact that his Swiss police escort was of a lower rank than he was. Indeed, how very irregular and insubordinate!

Own research

171701.  Thu May 03, 2007 4:02 am Reply with quote

All the sex shops in Baarle are in Holland, all the firework shops are in Belgium. Furthermore:

Holland mostly specialises in:

Beligium in:
Petrol Stations


171705.  Thu May 03, 2007 4:15 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
All the sex shops in Baarle are in Holland

By "all" you mean "the only one" :)

I notice The Netherlands (to give it its correct name) also has a monopoly on pharmacists, DIY shops, ice cream shops, opticians, shoe shops, sports shops, supermarkets (how odd!), travel agents, and sweet shops.

They nearly have a monopoly on "leather clothing" shops, though there's one in Belgium. Does anyone else find it a bit odd that they should have only one ice cream shop, sweet shop, bookshop, and toy shop, but six (count 'em! Six!) "leather clothing" shops?

Belgium also has the monopoly on Angling, Toy stores, and Tattoo studios.

There are also three shops which have both flags next to them. Presumably in buildings bisected by the border.


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