Since October 2013, the Parliament of the German-speaking Community has been located at the Platz des Parlaments Nr. 1 in Eupen. This house, commonly known as “sanatorium”, reflects the more recent history of the German-speaking Community, like hardly any other public building.
Over the last decades, depending on the general political situation, the German and Belgian owners of the building have changed as well as its purpose.
With the transfer of the competence in education to the Communities, the building and the surrounding land became property of the German-speaking Community. However, its time as an educational building is over, but the historic building has been given a new purpose: The Parliament of the German-speaking Community has been fulfilling its task as the legislator of the Community in this place since 2013.
1910: The merchant company
The merchant leisure company is the owner of the sanatorium. The company was founded in 1910 by the Wiesbaden businessman Josef Baum and later called the "European Society for cure and recovery".
In its heyday, the society is the owner of 48 houses and thus the largest private social association in Germany. After the Second World War, it only had 22 houses left in West Germany. Around 1985, it was heavily indebted and had to sell land and buildings. Today the company still owns one hotel, the "Kissinger Hof" in Bad Kissingen.
1914: During World War One
The building was erected during the 1st World War, when Eupen was still German. The house was supposed to be used as a rest home for merchants: Commercial and technical employees as well as merchants should be able to recover here from the strains of their work, which they perform in the "rocky deserts of the big city".
The architects Jacobi and Badermann from Düsseldorf were responsible for the planning of the building. The building project was financed by donations and endowments from industrial circles. On the Eupener side, the citizen Edler von Scheibler is the advocate of the building project.
Eupen wants to distinguish itself as a climatic health resort. The town under Mayor Count of Metternich hopes for an upturn in tourism and generously supports the project: it provides 8.5 acres of land, lays out the access road, wants to pay for the water and electricity supply and grants a construction subsidy of 30,000 Reichsmark.
1915-1917: Structural works
Construction began in 1915 and structural works were completed by 1917. The architects thought of everything: the grey slated roof fits in perfectly with the landscape at Eupen's highest point, and bathrooms and rooms for the orthopaedic treatment of the war-disabled are installed in the building.
At the entrance, on the side of today's radio building, a bowling club is being built, which will later be converted into a greenhouse. A magnificent doctor's apartment is built exactly where the BRF makes its radio and television programmes today. The guests are able to stroll leisurely through a magnificent garden while taking in the fresh Atlantic air.
1918: Military hospital
The rest home’s opening is planned for 1919, but we’re in the middle of the war. In 1918, the administration of Aachen’s military hospital decides to use the building for its own purposes.
With the Treaty of Versailles, the districts of Eupen-Malmedy become Belgian in 1920. The merchant company sells the building for 1,125,000 Reichsmark to the Belgian national society against tuberculosis.
1922: A house for people with pulmonary diseases
The sanatorium for lung patients opens on 14th July 1922. At the same time, the 3rd International Conference of the League for Lung Patients takes place here. Lieutenant General Herman Baltia, Governor of Eupen-Malmedy, is present.
1940-1945: World War Two
After the annexation of Eupen-Malmedy by Nazi Germany, shortly after the invasion of Belgium, the building is again transferred to the merchant company. On 21st May 1941, the company opens the "Rheinische Ferienheim Eupen". But in 1942, the building becomes a military hospital for lung-damaged soldiers.
During the Battle of the Bulge, the Americans set up a front hospital here.
1947: Sanatorium again
In 1947 the National Society against tuberculosis takes over the building again. The University of Leuven uses it as a university sanatorium, and patients from the University of Liège are also treated here.
Since 1965: School building
The state buys the building for its State Technical Institute (STI).
The number of students continues to rise, both the basement and the attic are converted into classrooms. Further rooms are built in the surrounding area.
In order to counter the chronic lack of space, the state school administration erects a new building on another site in Eupen where the school is ultimately moved to.
1989: The German-speaking Community becomes responsible for education
The German-speaking Community takes over the responsibility for education after the constitutional reform of 1988. Since then it also manages the school infrastructures. On 22nd October 1991, the Belgian State transferred the ownership of the building and its surrounding land to the German-speaking Community by Royal Decree.
Since 2000: Searching for a new purpose
Even though most school lessons mainly take place on the other site, this building serves as a boarding school until the end of the school year 2006-2007, and some individual lessons keep taking place here. However, the building is now too large and the facilities are outdated.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the question of a new, meaningful purpose arises. With the decision to establish the seat of Parliament here, a long-term solution for the preservation of the building has been found.