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Itzehoe is a medium-sized town in southwest Schleswig-Holstein on both sides of the Stör. It is the capital of the Steinburg district and is one of the oldest cities in Holstein.


Geographical location

The city lies directly on or on both sides of the Stör in a largely hilly and heavily wooded area. The part on the right side of the sturgeon lies on a compression moraine, which at the same time forms the border between Geest and Marsh. The part on the left-hand side of the Stör is partly on the Münsterdorfer Geestinsel. Downstream of the city, the Störmarsch widens to the right to Wilstermarsch and to the left to Krempermarsch. The city belongs to the Hamburg metropolitan region.

The size of the urban area comprises a total of 2803 ha (built-up area 757 ha; streets, squares, waterways 371 ha; parks, green spaces, sports fields, cemeteries 216 ha; agricultural areas 763 ha; allotments 46 ha; forestry areas 650 ha).

Neighboring municipalities and surrounding cities
The city borders on the communities of Heiligenstedten, Oldendorf, Ottenbüttel, Schlotfeld, Oelixdorf, Münsterdorf, Breitenburg (with the district Nordoe), Kremperheide and Heiligenstedtenerkamp. The nearest towns are Wilster, Krempe and Kellinghusen; the next larger cities Neumünster, Heide, Elmshorn and Hamburg.



The climate is humid and maritime. The annual mean temperature is 8.2 ° C (maximum temperature 28 ° C, minimum temperature −10 ° C), the amount of precipitation is 860 mm.



Origin of the city name
Itzehoe was first mentioned in the 12th century as "Ekeho" by Saxo Grammaticus. 1196 wrote another mention "de Ezeho". The meaning of the name is controversial to this day: One possibility would be “pasture land at the river bend” (Middle Low German “hô” for a flat raised promontory in a plain or a river meander, Middle Low German “ete” for pasture land). Today's Bach Itze is the name of a brook that was only named after the city in the 20th century and not the other way around.

Development of a provincial town into the seat of the ducal meeting of estates
To protect against the Danish Vikings marauding from the north, the Esesfeldburg was built under Charlemagne in 810 AD in the Oldenburgskuhle, but it is not directly related to the development of Itzehoe. Under their protection, Archbishop Ebo von Reims built a small monastery or prayer house, the "Cella Welana", in today's Münsterdorf in the summer of 823 as a base for the Christian mission in Denmark that he initiated. The larger Echeho Castle, built around 1000 in the nearby Störschleife, became the nucleus of a settlement, which, benefited by the granting of the Luebian city charter (1238), combined with the exemption from duty, which at that time was only granted to Hamburg, and later the stacking right 1260), developed into a trading town. Itzehoe was involved in the salt, cloth and grain trade during this time and was at times an important hub in European east-west trade. On the other side of the river, further settlements arose around the cloister courtyard (approx. 1260) and around the Laurentii church (first mentioned in 1196).

Under Gerhard von Holstein-Itzehoe, Itzehoe was also briefly the residence of the County of Holstein-Itzehoe in the 13th century.

Caused by this mixture of secular and ecclesiastical rule in Itzehoe there were four separate judicial districts (jurisdictions) in the city area from 1617 to March 31, 1861, each with its own gallows. A stone castle was built by the Counts of Schauenburg around 1180 on an old castle wall within the Störschleife. The medieval law of the castle applied. The associated Galgenberg is a Bronze Age burial mound between Struvestraße and the Ringstraße Galgenberg in the Wellenkamp district. The last public execution of the robbery murderer Johann Lau from Brokdorf took place there on December 18, 1856. In the merchants' settlement (Neustadt) founded by Adolf IV von Schauenburg and Holstein in 1238, Lübisch law was in force. The gallows hill of the Lübschen city was a Bronze Age burial mound on Buchenweg east of the Lübschen fountain. Furthermore, the Cistercian convent founded in 1256 had its own law. During the Reformation in 1541, the monastery was converted into a noble evangelical women's monastery, which still exists today. The still existing monastery courtyard next to the St. Laurentii Church is also one of the oldest preserved areas in Itzehoe. The gallows hill of the monastery was the Germanic grave. Furthermore, in today's urban area there was still the rule of Breitenburg with its own rights. The gallows hill of the Breitenburg rule was on a hill northeast of the Kratt.

Medieval Itzehoe was divided into residential quarters. For a long time only craftsmen (gardeners, barrel makers) were allowed to live in the old town, merchants and other craftsmen had to settle in the new town, which was divided into four quarters, with the urban upper class concentrated in the two oldest quarters around the market.

During the Thirty Years' War the city was billeted and plundered several times, but there was no major destruction, as the city council handed over the city to General Wallenstein without a fight in 1627. This enabled Itzehoe to maintain its status as fifth among the eighteen cities of Schleswig-Holstein.

After Itzehoe had been largely spared from wars for a long time, the city was almost completely destroyed by Swedish soldiers in 1657 in the Danish-Swedish War (1657–1658). As a result, the cloister of the Laurentii Church is now Itzehoe's only preserved medieval building.

In the 17th century Itzehoe was the seat of the ducal regiment on foot Prince Georg (around 1500 men) and in the 18th century it was the seat of three companies of the cuirassiers and the dragoons of the body regiment.

In 1712, the Asian bubonic plague that had been brought in from East Prussia and Poland broke out in Itzehoe. 250 inhabitants died as a result of the disease (around 7% of the then 3500 population).


Itzehoe was only indirectly affected by the Napoleonic Wars through transit and billeting as well as financial burdens. From 1807, Itzehoe briefly became the residence of Elector Wilhelm I of Hesse-Kassel, who fled into exile from Napoléon.

Before the Schleswig-Holstein uprising, in which a large part of the citizenship of Itzehoe took part for the German-minded Schleswig-Holstein movement, the Holstein Assembly of Estates met in Itzehoe from 1835 to 1848 and later again from 1852 to 1863, thereby establishing the History of parliamentarism in Schleswig-Holstein. After the German-Danish War, the Duchy of Holstein fell to Austria, whose governor Ludwig Karl Wilhelm von Gablenz finally convened the Holstein Assembly of Estates for the last time on June 11, 1866. However, a conference was prevented by the side effects of the German-German war. After the end of the war, the Duchy of Holstein including Itzehoe fell to Prussia: The Province of Schleswig-Holstein was created in 1867 - together with the Duchy of Schleswig.

With the railway connection (1847) and the connection to the new Chaussee from Hamburg to Rendsburg (1846), the industrial age began in Itzehoe, so that in the 19th and later in the 20th century many commercial and industrial companies (including sugar production, weaving mill , Chemical industry and shipyard) settled in and around Itzehoe, which helped the city to regain greater economic importance.

Itzehoe as a Prussian garrison town and during the First World War
While the inhabitants of Holstein, and thus Itzehoe, were initially more part of the Augustenburg party, this changed noticeably after the establishment of the empire. The enthusiasm and admiration for Prussia increased in all parts of the population and several monuments in the city were dedicated to Prussia and its personalities. Among other things, a bronze statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I was erected in the city park in 1890 (melted down in World War II) and in October 1905 the founder of the empire, Otto von Bismarck, was particularly honored with the inauguration of the Bismarckian column in the city forest. This Bismarck tower is still one of the city's cultural monuments today.

After its foundation on July 29, 1866, Itzehoe became the seat of the Field Artillery Regiment General-Feldmarschall Graf Waldersee (Schleswigsches) No. 9. Furthermore, after the Franco-German War won during the founding period, Itzehoe experienced an economic boom. The population increased suddenly, the port flourished and several larger factories were built in the food and textile industries, soap and paper processing, as well as a few smaller engineering factories and other shipyards.

During the First World War Itzehoe was not directly affected by the military conflict, but suffered like many German cities from famine caused by the British naval blockade in the North Sea; many of the city's citizens did not return from the battlefields of Europe and the population fell sharply.

The city during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich
As in the entire German Reich, during the November Revolution in 1918/1919, the rebel sailors and workers tried to usurp power. The officer corps tried to prevent the rebels from marching into the city by blocking the arterial roads from Itzehoe, but neglected to guard the station. 50 sailors reached the city this way, hoisted the red flag and formed a workers 'and soldiers' council.

During the Weimar Republic, Itzehoe's population grew from just under 18,000 to 20,000. In their voting behavior, they preferred the Social Democrats, the National Liberals and the German Nationals (as an example, the result of the Reichstag election of December 7, 1924: 12,713 voters in Itzehoe, votes SPD 3515, DVP 2228, DNVP 1935, DDP 1015, KP 933, Center 67) .

In the Reichstag election of March 5, 1933, the last Reichstag election during the Nazi regime, in which several parties were allowed, the 14,788 eligible voters in Itzehoe elected the NSDAP with 6,161 votes, the SPD with 3,480, the KPD in 1979 and the KPD with 1,054 DNVP, Center 84.

After Altona was spun off by the Greater Hamburg Act, the province of Schleswig-Holstein lost one of its four regional courts. From April 1, 1937, Itzehoe received its own regional court as a replacement. 13 local courts were initially assigned to this. While the number of local courts decreased over time, the area covered by the regional court has remained essentially unchanged since then.


After the beginning of the Second World War, many of Itzehoe's inhabitants joined the Wehrmacht and died in the course of the war. Compared to most northern German cities, the city itself hardly suffered from the aerial warfare. After October 1941, only nine bombs were dropped on Itzehoe. Itzehoe was not an important destination due to the lack of industry. On October 31, 1941, five bombs fell on Brunnenstieg and on a house in Sandberg, killing one citizen and injuring two other people. In mid-April 1945 a bomb fell near Poelstrasse in the middle of Lindenstrasse and damaged several houses on both sides of the street. Also in April 1945, the 10,000 m³ gas tank of the gas works in the Gasstrasse burned out after it had been bombed by British planes. On May 2, 1945, bombs hit the southwest of Sude around a mill construction company, killing 22 people. A second attack a few hours later hit the Brückenstraße / Liethberg triangle. In both cases there was complete destruction of buildings and major damage in the wider area.

From July 1943, parts of the population were evacuated from Kiel and Hamburg to Itzehoe because of the bombing raids. In addition, from 1944 onwards, many expellees came to the city from the eastern German regions. The number of inhabitants increased from 21,870 to 33,736.

During the Second World War there were several forced labor camps in Itzehoe: The Fuchsberg camp for the company Siemen & Hinsch with 150 people, the Schulenburg camp for the Alsensche Portland cement factory with 130 people, the Leuenkamp camp for the Hengstenberg sauerkohlfabrik, which has been located in Itzehoe since 1937 with 100 women and the camp of the Army Munitions Establishment with 135 people. In addition, in the former wallpaper factory on Feldschmiedekamp there was a military hospital for Belarusian armed forces and in the hall of the Hotel "Adler" there was a prisoner-of-war camp for French.

Itzehoe was the garrison location (Wehrkreis X, Hamburg) of the 225th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht, which was involved in the 1940 Vinkt massacre in Belgium.

At the end of the war, Germany was gradually occupied by the Allies. On May 4th, Hans-Georg von Friedeburg signed the surrender of all German troops in north-west Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark at Lüneburg on behalf of the last Reich President Karl Dönitz, who had previously resigned in Flensburg-Mürwik with the last Reich government. British troops occupied Itzehoe on May 5, 1945. The war was over for Itzehoe.

After the Second World War
The British military government initiated denazification measures immediately after the war. The National Socialist emblems were removed from the city, National Socialist street and square names were renamed and National Socialists were removed from office.

At the end of the war, the population of Itzehoe had doubled due to refugees and displaced persons from East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia, which, as in most towns in the British and American zones of occupation, led to a considerable housing shortage. This could only be reduced gradually with new buildings in the city, especially in the Tegelhörn district.

In 1946, on the initiative of the film producer Gyula Trebitsch, who had lived in Itzehoe for a few years, the first memorial to the victims of National Socialism in Northern Germany was created in Itzehoe. The design came from the Hamburg architect Fritz Höger.

The British occupation troops were replaced by Norwegian troops in 1949, which in turn were replaced by Danish occupation troops in 1950/1951. Basically, Itzehoe remained under British occupation.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the first skyscrapers were built in three districts of Itzehoe: the first on Marienburger Platz in Tegelhörn, the second on Lindenstrasse in Sude, and the third two in the city center. The Holstein Center stands between these two high-rise buildings: built in 1972, it is the largest shopping center in western Schleswig-Holstein and offers shops on two sales levels a total of over 14,000 m² of retail space. Various events take place there at irregular intervals. In 1997 the buildings were completely renovated and in 2002 attempts were made to revitalize them. A main entrance to the Holstein Center is located on the Feldschmiede pedestrian zone immediately adjacent to it. In 2017 the center was sold; it is largely empty and filed for bankruptcy in June 2020.


The new theater is located near the field forge (built on the bank of the filled-in Störschleife). It was inaugurated in 1992. The old city theater burned down to the ground in 1994.

Another big fire was remembered for a long time. Adjacent to the train station was the 40,000 m² site of a timber wholesaler that fell victim to the flames in 1988. It was only thanks to the favorable wind conditions on that day that the fire did not spread to the buildings in the city center and the train station. The extinguishing work lasted almost a whole day.

Until it was filled with around 110,000 m³ of sand in 1974, the Störschleife had a decisive influence on the image of Itzehoe's inner city. The loop was the original course of the river. The Stördurchstich (Lower German: "Delf", from which the names "Delftor" and "Delftorbrücke" of the city exit and the Störbrücke come from) made Itzehoe's castle an island. It is said that there were sluices in Delf that closed when the water ran out, forcing the disturbance loop to flow through and clean it. After its removal, the sturgeon loop increasingly silted up and developed into an almost stagnant, foul-smelling body of water. The old town center, the "new town", could only be reached via bridges. In the course of the redevelopment of the “Neustadt”, during which almost all the houses on this former island were demolished and replaced by new buildings and new streets laid out, this defining element of the city died out. Only a few artificially created water basins between the new theater and the Salt Road remind of the original course of the loop. Adenauerallee, one of Itzehoe's main thoroughfares, now runs along the former western section. Due to these redevelopment and development measures, Itzehoe "won" second place behind Idar-Oberstein in a 1988 "competition for the most consistent disfigurement of a historical cityscape" carried out by German city planners, where in the 1980s the Nahe river running through the urban valley area on one Length of two kilometers had been built over with a road.

In order to improve the cityscape again, an initiative was launched in 2011 with the aim of promoting the reopening of the filled in Störschleife in the center of Itzehoe. In 2017, the entire city center was declared a redevelopment area. The goal was expressly to restore the disturbance loop.

Itzehoe achieved sad nationwide notoriety in March 2014 when a gas explosion in Schützenstrasse in the southeast of the city devastated the entire street and completely destroyed the house with number 3. Four people were killed in the accident; 15 people were injured, some seriously. The accident happened during dredging work on the sewer system when an unrecorded gas pipe was hit. The excavator driver and the foreman were held responsible for the accident and had to answer in court, where they were acquitted. In February 2017, civil proceedings began to resolve the liability for damages.

In mid-March 2018 there were attacks on Turkish mosques and shops across Germany. In Itzehoe, too, windows of the mosque were smashed and a fire started. People were not harmed.