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Flensburg (Danish and Low German: Flensborg, North Frisian:
Flansborj, Flensborag, South Jutian: Flensborre) is a city in the
north of Schleswig-Holstein. After Kiel and Lübeck, Flensburg is the
third largest city in the state with around 90,000 inhabitants, the
largest in the Schleswig region and the northernmost independent
city in Germany. Flensburg lies at the end of the Flensburg Fjord,
the westernmost point of the Baltic Sea, and on the northern border
of the fishing peninsula.
As the center of the Danish minority in southern Schleswig, Flensburg took on a pioneering role for the recognition of national minorities after the referendum in Schleswig in 1920 and the Bonn-Copenhagen declarations of 1955, covered by a large number of Danish institutions. In addition to German and Danish, Low German and Petuh are spoken by a not inconsiderable proportion of the 96,258 inhabitants, according to their own information (as of April 2018).
The port city gained nationwide fame through the "Points in Flensburg" saved by the Federal Motor Transport Authority, the erotic mail order business of Beate Uhse, the Flensburg beer and the handball club SG Flensburg-Handewitt, internationally through the seat of the last Reich government in 1945 under the direction of Karl Dönitz im District Mürwik. Factors such as rum trade and military facilities, such as the Flensburg-Mürwik naval base, which shaped the city's growth in the 19th and 20th centuries, only play an insignificant role today. Of greater importance for the regional center are the pronounced border tourism, the Flensburg harbor with the historic harbor and the FSG shipyard, as well as the Flensburg University and European University with around 9200 students (winter semester 2014/2015).
Prehistoric and early human traces
Various traces of human life and work from prehistory and early history have been discovered in the urban area. Sites that testify to these times include the grave mounds Friedenshügel, Nonnenberg and Weinberg.
Origin of the name
The origin of the city name Flensburg, first mentioned in 1248, has not yet been clarified. According to a legend, Duke Knud Lavard commissioned a knight Fleno to build a castle at the end of the fjord. This Fleno castle is said to have given the city its name. A more recent theory suggests that the name derives from a small tower fortress, the foundations of which were found near St. Mary's Church, and which lay on something like some sort of small island, peninsula, or headland.
In addition to the founding myth about the knight Fleno, Flensburg has an apocalyptic myth about his downfall, the starting point of which is said to be at the oat market and in which the black pig plays a decisive role.
The beginnings of Flensburg
By the middle of the 12th century at the latest, a trading and fishing settlement with the St. Johannis Church was built on the inner part, where the Flensburg Fjord began. The St. Johannis settlement with its location was a younger part of the Husbyharde in fishing. In 1170 the parish of Sankt Marien was established, around 1200 the parish of Sankt Nikolai and finally in 1290 Sankt Gertrud. These churches of Sankt Nikolai, Sankt Marien and Sankt Gertrud, located west of the fjord and the Scherrebek brook flowing into it, were in the Wiesharde. The entire area then belonged to the Kingdom of Denmark. Historians believe that there were several reasons for choosing this location. After the destruction of the Wendish land and sea rule by the Danes under Waldemar I and the Saxons under Henry the Lion, life on the waterfront had become safer. The place was considered a safe haven on the fjord with protection from strong winds. In addition, two important trade routes cross in Flensburg: the Ochsenweg leading through Jutland and the trade route between North Friesland and fishing (Angelbowege). Another reason was the large number of herrings.
In the course of time, the small trading establishments gained in importance and grew closer and closer together. At that time, the Knudsgilde already existed, a determining power in Flensburg, which consisted of wealthy merchants and was given privileges even then. With her influence on the city regiment could be exercised. After fighting between the Danish King Erik Plovpenning and his brother and successor Abel, the burgeoning town center in the Dammhof area was destroyed in 1248. Abel promoted the reconstruction of the place. The Minorite monastery was probably built in 1263 or earlier. In 1284 the Danish King Erik Glipping granted the new town town charter, the content of which suggests a very lively trade. Duke Waldemar IV of Schleswig confirmed the town charter. Flensburg quickly became the most important city in the Duchy of Schleswig, a Danish fiefdom with the Danish king as feudal lord, which, in contrast to Holstein bordering to the south, did not belong to the Holy Roman Empire. Like other Schleswig cities, Flensburg was not a member of the Hanseatic League. Nevertheless, there were close trade contacts with German and European Hanseatic cities. An important commodity at that time were herring pickled in salt, which were sent across Europe.
The trading city in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period
From 1409 the clashes between Holsteiners and Danes for supremacy in Schleswig began (see also Sønderjylland). In 1411 Queen Margaret I achieved the cession of large parts of the Duchy of Schleswig to Denmark in the Treaty of Kolding. In the same year the Duburg was built on the Marienberg.
Margarethe I died of the plague on October 28, 1412 on board a ship in the port of Flensburg. The plague and other infectious diseases were a major problem for medieval cities. At certain intervals, smallpox, the bubonic plague caused by the rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis), the red dysentery or other epidemics ravaged large parts of the Flensburg population. Leprosy sufferers were isolated in the St. Jürgen Hospital (built before 1290), which was outside the city gates (today: St. Jürgen Church). Syphilis was introduced around 1500. The church hospital Zum Heiligen Geist (today: Heiliggeistkirche) is located in Grosse Strasse (today Flensburg's pedestrian zone).
The everyday life of the people of Flensburg was tough, the roads
were bad. The main streets were unpaved and unlit. In some cases,
the citizens were obliged to make the paths soaked with cattle dung
passable with wooden walkways. Only a few patrician houses had
windows. Every participatory budget kept cattle in the house and
yard. Citizens also had their own cowherd and swineherd who looked
after the cattle outside the city during the day.
During Denmark's war against the Hanseatic League and Holstein, in 1426 first Danish mercenaries conquered and plundered the city, then in 1431 Holstein and Hanseatic mercenaries. In 1485 there was a major fire in Flensburg. The city was also not spared from storm surges. The water levels of earlier storm surges can still be read at the Kompagnietor.
From 1526 Lutheran teaching took hold in Flensburg. At that time the Husum reformer Hermann Tast preached in the city. Supported by the young Duke Christian, the former Dominican Gerd Slewert pushed the Reformation forward. On April 8, 1529, the Flensburg Disputation took place, a religious discussion that took place in the St. Catherine's Monastery in Flensburg between Melchior Hofmann and representatives of the Lutheran clergy. As a result of the disputation, the Lutheran Reformation was introduced in Denmark and the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.
After the decline of the Hanseatic League in the 16th century, Flensburg was one of the most important trading cities in the Scandinavian region. The trade relations of the Flensburg merchants even reached into the Mediterranean, Greenland and the Caribbean. In addition to herring, the most important trade goods were initially sugar and oil, which was obtained by whaling on the so-called Greenland voyage. The heyday only ended with the Thirty Years' War. The incursion of the imperial under Wallenstein in 1627 and 1628 as well as the Danish-Swedish Wars 1643–1645 and 1657–1660 inflicted considerable wounds on the city's prosperity.
Revival as a rum city in the 18th and 19th centuries. century
In the 18th century, Flensburg experienced a second boom thanks to the rum trade. The cane sugar was imported from the Danish West Indies and refined in Flensburg, probably as part of the triangular trade. In the 19th century, in the course of industrialization, the Flensburg sugar refineries could no longer hold their own against the competition from the neighboring cities of Copenhagen and Hamburg.
The rum blended in Flensburg was an alternative business in the West India trade, from where it was imported and sold as a rum blend throughout Europe. After the German-Danish War in 1864, sugar cane was obtained from Jamaica, a British country at the time, instead of from the Danish West Indies. Once more than 20 rum houses (including Hansen, Pott, Sonnberg, Asmussen and Detleffsen) that shaped the city, the A. H. Johannsen rum house on Marienstraße still exists today.
The city also began to grow beyond the city wall in the 18th century. The Neustadt district was created and, with the oat market, another market square near St. Johannis was created. Between 1460 and 1864 Flensburg was the second largest port in the entire Danish state after Copenhagen and even the largest outside the Kingdom of Denmark. In 1848 fighting broke out in the Flensburg Neustadt in the course of the Battle of Bau. After the German-Danish War (1864), the city became part of Prussia, and the High German language, which had gained a foothold in the Flensburg bourgeoisie since the Reformation, increasingly shaped the life of the city. Nevertheless, to this day, a considerable minority of the Flensburgers belong to the Danish ethnic group.
The doctor Peter Henningsen founded the Ostseebadgesellschaft together with merchants in 1875 and tried to establish an outdoor swimming pool with a spa on the Flensburg Fjord. The Ostseebad lido remained from the plans.
On April 1, 1889, Flensburg formed an independent urban district (urban district) within the province of Schleswig-Holstein, but remained the seat of the district of Flensburg.
Referendum in Schleswig
In 1920, following a decision by the League of Nations, a vote
was taken on the border in Schleswig (South Jutland). In Northern
Schleswig, voting took place en bloc. There, 75% of the entire
population decided for Denmark, whereas the numerically inferior
population of the southern cities in this area voted for Germany and
was thus outvoted by the northern rural population. So went the
cities of Tønder (with 76% votes for Germany), Hoyer (with 73% votes
for Germany), Tingleff (with 64% votes for Germany), Sonderburg to
the east (with 55% votes for Germany) and that was something
Aabenraa located further north (with 54% votes for Germany) as well
as the southern areas of the voting area, in which around 40–59%, in
some cases even more, of the respondents voted for Germany, to
Denmark. South Schleswig, together with Flensburg, voting on a
community basis, voted with a large majority to remain with Germany.
The hope of the Danish side to win one or the other municipality due
to the smaller size in this area was therefore not fulfilled. There
was only a weak Danish majority in three municipalities on the
islands of Sylt and Föhr, which otherwise had a majority in favor of
Germany. As a result of the voting zones and voting modalities
defined in the Versailles Treaty, large parts of the surrounding
area, especially the district of Flensburg, fell to Denmark;
Flensburg became a border town.
The city of Flensburg received the German House from the German government as thanks for the pro-German voting behavior. Borgerforeningen and Flensborghus developed into centers for the Danish Flensburg residents.
National Socialism and World War II
When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, the city administration in Flensburg was also brought into line and Wilhelm Sievers, a long-standing NSDAP member, was appointed mayor. After an internal intrigue at the end of 1935, he was replaced by Ernst Kracht, who had the Bismarck fountain removed for ideological reasons in 1937. During the National Socialist era, people with a Jewish background were persecuted. On November 9, 1938, the Jägerslust farm was attacked by the police and the SS, after which almost the entire Jewish Wolff family who lived there were transferred to a concentration camp and murdered there (see Hof Jägerslust). Today 23 stumbling blocks in Flensburg testify to these persecutions. In the course of the armament, Flensburg grew in importance as a naval base and army garrison. In 1938, the customs school in Flensburg was set up in the old secondary school and agricultural school, the predecessor of the Goethe school.
During the Second World War, the city suffered only sporadic war damage from 41 bombs, which claimed a total of 176 deaths and destroyed 4.7% of the city. On May 19, 1943, 15 children and 2 employees of a Danish kindergarten died when the air raid shelter on the Batteriestraße near the shipyard and power station was hit directly. Around 1000 apartments were completely destroyed by the 41 air raids on Flensburg. From 1943 onwards, some resistance groups formed in the city, to which the tenant of the Borgerforeningen, Hanni Matthiesen, belonged. In 1944 the internment camp Frøslev was established, which was not very far across the border. On November 30, 1944, Jens Jessen, who grew up in Flensburg, was executed as part of the resistance in Berlin-Plötzensee.
Shortly after the war, on June 14, 1945, an explosion at an ammunition depot in Kielseng claimed numerous victims in Flensburg. 60 people died instantly as a result of the explosion, with a total of 88 dead and at least 200 injured.
End of war
After Adolf Hitler's suicide on April 30, 1945 and the conquest of Berlin in the same year, Mürwik was the seat of the last Reich government for a few weeks in May 1945, headed by Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. Its staff took up quarters in the military area of the aforementioned Flensburg district. At the same time, a large number of important Nazi functionaries came to Flensburg via the so-called Rattenlinie Nord - with the aim of becoming involved in the government or avoiding prosecution by the Allies and going into hiding. In this way, thousands of doctors, officers and NSDAP functionaries who had been incriminated were given new papers. The still functioning bureaucracy of the last Reich government, which managed to turn many high-ranking Nazi criminals into simple Wehrmacht soldiers, was very useful for this. They received the papers and uniforms at the Mürwik Naval School.
Many of these fugitives were captured by the British on the way
south and, on the basis of their (new) papers, released after a few
months as "simple Wehrmacht soldiers", including the "Marinemaat
Franz Lang", in reality Rudolf Höß, the camp commandant of the
extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was only arrested by
British troops on March 11, 1946, after he had hidden under a false
name at the Hansen farm in Gottrupel. Other criminals were found,
unscathed by the occupation, later in high offices in what would
later become the Federal Republic of Germany, including high
positions in medicine, politics and economics in the Federal
Republic of Germany. The city of Flensburg thus played a central and
far-reaching role in the last days of the war and beyond.
The Provisional Government was on the edge of the Mürwik Naval School in the Naval Sports School. There its members were deposed and arrested by British troops on May 23, 1945.
post war period
After the end of the Second World War, Flensburg belonged to the British zone of occupation. The British military administration set up two DP camps in Flensburg to accommodate so-called displaced persons. The majority of them were former slave laborers from Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Yugoslavia.
In the period after the war, many displaced people came to the city, so that the population exceeded 100,000 and Flensburg was a major city for several years. During this time the DRK tracing service was established in Flensburg. As in the rest of Schleswig, a relatively strong pro-Danish movement developed in Flensburg after 1945, which was based on the ideas of the Eider Danes. The aim of many supporters was to join the city with Denmark. For a few years after 1945, Flensburg still had mayors from the Danish minority (cf. Social Democratic Party of Flensburg).
In 1956 the Flensburg Customs School, which was last housed in the Mürwik Naval School, was relocated from Flensburg. The inner-German border had gained in importance. The Cold War had started and the navy needed the building on the fjord again and moved into it that same year.
After the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany, Flensburg increasingly benefited from the settlement of military facilities that were supposed to compensate for the economic disadvantages of the city's peripheral location. The decision to locate the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg also belonged to the context of structural funding. Since German reunification in 1990, however, the number of soldiers has fallen again by over 8,000, as military installations have been dismantled or relocated to the eastern federal states. In particular, the larger floating units were relocated to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania together with the land-based supply facilities. The time-consuming march of the fleet units through the Flensburg Fjord to their areas of operation in the Baltic Sea was no longer necessary. Today the former port facilities of the German Navy are used for civilian purposes by pleasure craft (Marina Sonwik). The withdrawal of so many soldiers after 1990 contributed significantly to Flensburg's economic crisis and high unemployment.
The German-Danish border trade still plays a major role today. Some Danish companies such as Danfoss settled directly south of the border in Flensburg and its neighboring communities for tax reasons.
In 1970 the district of Flensburg-Land was expanded to include the municipalities of the Medelby office in the district of Südtondern, and in 1974 it was merged with the district of Schleswig to form the new district of Schleswig-Flensburg, whose district seat became the city of Schleswig. With this, Flensburg lost its function as a district town, but remained an independent city itself.
During the snow catastrophe in northern Germany at the end of 1978, Flensburg was cut off from the outside world. Even rescue tanks of the Bundeswehr did not succeed in clearing Autobahn 7 and train traffic to Kiel was paralyzed. The disaster was accompanied by a flood that was 1.60 m above sea level. NHN flooded the port streets.
From 2004 to 2008, a project by the Flensburger Baukultur association attracted nationwide attention, in which Flensburg city thinkers viewed the city from an impartial perspective and contributed new ideas to urban planning development.
In April 2010, the Hells Angels MC Chapter Flensburg, a chapter
of the Hells Angels Germany, hit the headlines nationwide when the
then Interior Minister Klaus Schlie (CDU) pronounced a club ban on
both the Flensburg Hells Angels and the Neumünster Bandidos because
“innkeepers ask for protection money blackmailed, a hostile bandido
attacked on a motorway and weapons “hoarded”. The Higher
Administrative Court of Schleswig confirmed the ban in June 2012.
Despite the ban, the rockers remained active. Therefore, two years
later in June 2014, the public prosecutor's office in Flensburg and
the state criminal investigation office in Schleswig-Holstein
initiated a large-scale raid in which 13 apartments in Flensburg and
the surrounding area, the clubhouse in Batteriestrasse (with the Red
Devils sign, later Red and White) and a restaurant were searched at
the ship bridge.
Today Flensburg is the largest city in the Schleswig region and the center of the German-Danish border region. The city is the seat of a university and college and is still characterized by the navy, border trade and its history as a rum city. Due to the poor financial situation of the city, the council decided in 2006 to sell the Kollunder forest to a private person.
The municipality of the city of Flensburg is located at the inner end of the Flensburg Fjord in the northwest of the fishing peninsula on the German-Danish border in the Schleswig-Holstein hill country. The nearest border crossing to Denmark is in the neighboring municipality of Harrislee in the Schleswig-Flensburg district. After the neighboring city of Glücksburg, Flensburg is the second northernmost city in the Federal Republic of Germany. The urban area extends on the western and southern banks of the Flensburg Fjord over various hills such as the Frisian Mountain or the Marienberg. The eastern bank of the city is already counted as part of the fishing peninsula. The highest point in the urban area with at least 64 m above sea level. is located in the Marienhölzung area near the Duburg junction of the federal highway 200. The inner city area is at the ZOB at a height of only 3 m above sea level.
The city of Flensburg is divided into 13 districts, which in turn are divided into a total of 38 statistical districts. The boundaries of today's city districts and districts only approximately follow the historical boundary lines of the earlier rural communities or the historical parish boundaries on the old city field. The districts of Flensburg are old town (or Flensburg city center), Engelsby, Friesischer Berg, Fruerlund, Jürgensby, Mürwik, Neustadt, Nordstadt, Sandberg, Südstadt, Tarup, Weiche and Westliche Höhe.
The following municipalities in the Schleswig-Flensburg district and the Syddanmark region border the city of Flensburg - starting clockwise in the northeast: Glücksburg (official city), Wees (Langballig office), Maasbüll, Hürup, Tastrup and Freienwill (all Hürup office), Handewitt ( Official municipality), Harrislee (official municipality) and the municipality of Aabenraa (German Aabenraa) on the Danish side of the Flensburg Fjord.
Above all, Harrislee with the associated districts Wassersleben and Kupfermühle, as well as Wees and Tastrup, are suburbs of Flensburg. Structurally, they are more or less closely integrated with the city. The community of Harrislee, in particular, has repeatedly insisted on its independence since the 1970s - despite repeated proposals from the City of Flensburg to incorporate it.
Tastrup, in turn, is a remnant of the former municipality of Adelby, which was gradually incorporated. Due to the constant expansion of the Sünderup district, Flensburg is growing closer and closer to Tastrup. The situation is similar with Wees, where development areas are being developed in the Flensburg districts of Wasserloos and Kauslund on Nordstrasse (Bundesstrasse 199). Another settlement that has grown seamlessly with Flensburg for many years is Meierwik, which nevertheless belongs to the city of Glücksburg. Handewitt, which borders the Schäferhaus airfield and is not far from the Weiche district of Flensburg, has also grown quite a lot. The togetherness is reinforced by the Flensburg-Handewitt gambling community, which has existed since 1990. Furthermore, Maasbüll is sometimes considered a rural suburb of Flensburg, although the village has not grown into Flensburg. The Maasbüll, characterized by local recreation and agriculture, is located near the barely built-up area Vogelsang.