The state of Lower Saxony with the capital Hanover is located in northern Germany. Lower Saxony is mostly flat with lots of pasture land (marshes) on the North Sea coast, slightly undulating in the east with sandy soil (Lüneburg Heath) and in the south are the northern foothills of the German low mountain range with the Weserbergland. The western Harz bulges in the south-east – with several reservoirs and the highest mountain in Lower Saxony, the 971 m high Wurmberg near Braunlage.
By German standards, Lower Saxony is a sparsely populated area with
different regions. The country can be divided into the following
important regions, each of which has its own tourist attraction:
At the North Sea coast:
East Friesland with the East Frisian Islands,
the Oldenburger Land with Wesermarsch and Ammerland
the Elbe-Weser triangle between Bremen and Hamburg with the Altes Land
In the inland lowlands:
the Emsland and the County of Bentheim
the Oldenburger Münsterland
Lüneburg Heath and Wendland
Region of Hanover and Hildesheimer Börde
In the hills and low mountain ranges:
the Osnabrück region
Southern Lower Saxony with the Lower Saxon parts of the Harz Mountains, Untereichsfeld, Solling as part of the Weser Uplands and Leine Uplands
Lower Saxony has eight major cities, four of which are close together, in the Hanover-Brunswick-Göttingen-Wolfsburg metropolitan region - only Göttingen deviates somewhat to the south here. In the west, Osnabrück is the only major city in the country, in the north it is Oldenburg.
Hanover - The state capital on the Leine is not exactly in the geographical center of the state, but it is still the center of Lower Saxony in almost every respect. In addition to the zoo, the Maschsee and major annual events such as the Schützenfest or the Hanover Marathon, a wide range of cultural and shopping opportunities also attracts short-term visitors to the city.
Braunschweig - The second largest city in Lower Saxony sometimes competes with the state capital, even though the two cities have been connected by the state's first railway line since the days of the Kingdom of Hanover. Braunschweig also has a very wide range of cultural activities and is worthwhile for an extensive shopping tour. In particular, the castle and cathedral with the lion, the symbol of Henry the Lion, the city of which Braunschweig is still called today, should not be missed during a visit.
Göttingen - The southernmost city in Lower Saxony is primarily known as a university town. Its more than 275-year-old university offers travelers the lively hustle and bustle of a large student body with a distinctive pub scene, a very diverse cultural offering and the well-preserved half-timbered old town with many small, unusual shops in its side streets and alleys. There are no spectacular tourist highlights in Göttingen, but the city presents itself around its landmark, the Gänseliesel, as a city that creates knowledge from a more sophisticated side - from the Handel Festival to a wide range of scientific lectures for everyone and numerous small scientific museums and exhibitions.
Oldenburg - The former residential city is located about 90 km south of the North Sea coast and is the only major city in north-western Lower Saxony to be the economic, cultural and, with the Carl von Ossietzky University, also the scientific center of the region. In addition to Oldenburg Castle, the large yellow Renaissance building on the Alte Hunte, including the State Museum for Art and Cultural History and the State Museum of Nature and Man, numerous other important museums and, in addition to the Oldenburg State Theater, there are also a number of other smaller, innovative stages that are worth seeing.
Osnabrück - The city of peace Osnabrück, named after the Peace of Westphalia concluded here and in Münster in 1648, has the largest palace of this architectural style in Lower Saxony with the prince-bishop's baroque palace, which is now used by the university. St. Peter's Cathedral with its two west towers is also impressive, as is the early Gothic Church of St. John. The medieval old town, which was more than 90% destroyed in the war, offers good opportunities for shopping, while much of the old building fabric has been preserved in the former medieval new town, giving an impression of old Osnabrück.
Wolfsburg - The youngest city in Lower Saxony is inseparably linked to the history of Volkswagen, which is not only visible to rail travelers when they roll past the huge VW factory on the canal when entering the town by train. The Auto-Stadt of the Volkswagen Group is one of the biggest sights in the city, but the Phaeno Center for Science and Technology also attracts younger people, families and school classes to the city. Located on the Mittelland Canal and Aller, it also offers travelers lots of nature, a wide range of cultural sights and offers and a good range of shops.
Hildesheim - The historic cathedral city has been a bishop's seat since the early Middle Ages. It is characterized by an old town that is well worth seeing and is characterized by medieval to early modern times. The pre-Romanesque church of St. Michaelis from the Ottonian period is one of the most important churches of early Christianity in Germany and, together with the imposing Romanesque Cathedral of St. Mariae with its treasures and the western work, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hildesheim is also known for the historic market square, which is one of the most beautiful in Germany, and the ancient Egyptian exhibition in the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum.
Salzgitter - Like Wolfsburg, Salzgitter was founded in the 20th century, although the individual districts have a much older history. As an industrial location, it is best known for its iron and steel works.
The following cities are among the larger
cities in Lower Saxony:
Celle, located on the southern edge of the Lüneburg Heath and on the Aller, the city offers travelers a well-preserved half-timbered old town that is well worth seeing, the castle with the oldest baroque theater in Germany that is still in use, and the Lower Saxony State Stud, the center of Hanoverian warmblood breeding
Cuxhaven, at the mouth of the Elbe in the North Sea, the Kugelbake is one of the distinctive symbols of the city, which as a North Sea spa attracts bathers and spa guests, and also city travelers with the Ringelnatz Museum, the museum lightship Elbe 1 and the Hapag Halls, which documenting the history of America's emigrants, has much to offer.
Goslar on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains was included in the Unesco World Heritage Site along with the old town and the Rammelsberg mine. In addition, the imperial palace and the stave church in the neighboring town of Hahnenklee are worth a visit.
Hamelin on the Weser keeps the legend of the Pied Piper alive to this day and has thus retained its importance as one of the best-known places in Lower Saxony, especially among foreign tourists, as a pied piper town, but also thanks to its well-preserved half-timbered old town and its location on the Weser .
In addition, there are many other medium-sized and small towns worth seeing, including the numerous half-timbered towns, which are presented in the regional articles.
In front of the Lower
Saxony North Sea coast lies the chain of the East Frisian Islands, which
are a very popular holiday region both for the Lower Saxony themselves
and for holidaymakers from all regions of the state. In the summer
months, pre-booking accommodation on the relatively small islands is
advisable. But even in the low season and even in the winter months, a
holiday on the East Frisian Islands can have its appeal, which many
travelers also use as a spa stay in the stimulating climate of the North
Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge lie from west to east and protect the East Frisian coast from the tides of the North Sea as an island belt.
Further east, directly in front of the city of Cuxhaven, lies the island of Neuwerk and the protected bird islands of Scharhörn and Nigehern in the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park. Politically, however, these islands belong to Hamburg.
The wide moors in the North German lowlands are characteristic of Lower Saxony. In the rural region south of Bremen you will find a number of moorland areas that have been developed for tourism. For example, the nature conservation and information center on the Goldenstedter Moor is worth a visit. In addition to the exhibition, there is a moor tunnel, observation tower, rides on the moor railway and of course a footbridge with information boards through a small part of the huge moor. For information see www.niz-goldenstedt.de. More moor railways and nature experience centers on the subject of moors can be found in the "Moorerlebnis" section on the Dümmerweserland website. Also in the north of the Lüneburg Heath you will find a moor landscape worth seeing in the Tister farmer's moor near Sittensen on the A1. With a former peat train you can drive into the moor. The journey with detailed explanations on moor mining takes one hour. A hiking trail also leads to the area. A six meter high lookout tower in the moor offers the opportunity to observe the bird life. The Teufelsmoor, about 500 square kilometers in size, north-east of Bremen, lies in an Ice Age meltwater valley and is drained centrally by the Hamme. The name Teufelsmoor derives from stupid moor (deaf moor). In the center of the moor are the Geestinsel Weyerberg and the Worpswede artist colony, which was made famous by many landscape painters and is still alive today.
While in the north of the federal state the "flat country"
prevails and the mountainous elevations such as the Wilseder Berg in the
Lüneburg Heath (162.9 m above sea level) or the Harburg Mountains in the
district of Harburg (154.9 m above sea level) directly to the south the
state border with Hamburg are rather rare elevations in the terrain, it
gets hillier towards the south and finally even mountainous in southern
Lower Saxony, where the Harz Mountains in the east and the Solling in
the west border the country.
Harz National Park
The Harz is Lower Saxony's highest mountain range and attracts hikers in particular to the extensive hiking routes in the Harz National Park, among other places. But campers and mobile homes are also drawn to the many quiet pitches at the many dams such as the Oker and Oder dams. Mountain bikers will find numerous separate trails and bike parks. For North German winter sports enthusiasts, the Harz is also the first port of call for winter sports. For example, the ski area on the 971 m high Wurmberg, the highest mountain in the federal state near Braunlage, is well known and popular with alpinists. Cross-country skiers, on the other hand, will find a widely ramified network of trails in the vast forests of the Hochharz.
As a ridge in the Weserbergland, the Solling limits the southern part of Lower Saxony to the west. In terms of area, it is the second largest mountain range in the federal state after the Harz Mountains. Here you will also find an extensive hiking area through forests and over high moors, trails for mountain bikers and in winter a small network of cross-country ski runs. The highest mountain in the Solling is the Große Blöße (527.8 m above sea level) in the district of Northeim, which is also the third highest mountain in Lower Saxony after the Haferberg (580.4 m above sea level) in the Kaufunger Forest, which extends into Lower Saxony in the extreme south . The Solling and the Vogler mountain range to the north are part of the Weser Uplands.
Lower Saxon Wadden National Park
The buildings and landscapes in Lower Saxony, which are recognized as
UNESCO World Heritage, are also particularly worth seeing:
in Hildesheim the Michaeliskirche and the Mariendom (World Heritage Site since 1985)
in Goslar the Rammelsberg mine and the old town (World Heritage Site since 1992)
the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea (World Heritage Site since 2009)
the facilities of the Upper Harz water regime in the Harz Mountains, including the monastery in Walkenried (World Heritage Site since 2010)
in Sankt Andreasberg the Samson Pit (World Heritage Site since 2010)
the Fagus Factory in Alfeld (World Heritage Site since 2011)
The correspondence of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (more than 15,000 letters) kept in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library and in the Lower Saxony State Library in Hanover has been part of the World Document Heritage since 2007.
The only international airport in Lower Saxony is Hanover Airport (IATA: HAM) and Bremen Airport
The international airports in the neighboring federal states of Hamburg (IATA: BRE) in the north and, due to the fast rail connection in Hesse, Frankfurt Airport (IATA: FRA) are also suitable for traveling to Lower Saxony. Paderborn Lippstadt Airport (IATA: PAD) and Münster Osnabrück Airport (IATA: FMO) in North Rhine-Westphalia near the state border with Lower Saxony can also be used to travel to the western parts of the state.
Hannover Hauptbahnhof is the central railway junction in Lower Saxony. In long-distance traffic, the central north-south route of Deutsche Bahn, the Würzburg-Hannover high-speed line, which leads further north to Hamburg, intersect with the west-east route from Amsterdam via the Ruhr area to Hanover and on via Braunschweig or Hanover .Wolfsburg to Berlin.
An important long-distance rail route runs from the Ruhr area via Osnabrück to Bremen or Hamburg, and there is also an important connection from Hanover to Bremen.
In addition to Hanover, ICE train stations in Lower Saxony include Braunschweig, Celle, Göttingen, Hildesheim, Lüneburg, Uelzen, Wolfsburg,
The long-distance network is supplemented by a partially well-developed network of regional railway lines, which are often operated by private railways.
The development of the long-distance bus market is currently subject to rapid change, both in terms of providers and routes. A specific search is possible with bus line search.
In the street
The A2 coming from Bielefeld runs via Hanover, Braunschweig and Helmstedt as a central east-west connection across Lower Saxony and on to Berlin via Magdeburg.
The A7, the longest north-south motorway in Germany, runs from Hamburg via Hanover and Hildesheim through the western edge of the Harz Mountains to Göttingen, until it stops at Hann. Münden leaves Lower Saxony in the direction of Kassel.
The southern Lower Saxony can be reached from the east on the A38 from the Leipzig area.
And in the north, the A1 runs through the country from west to east.
There are no regular ferry connections to Lower Saxony, with the exception of the Elbe ferry at Wischhafen-Glückstadt and the Weser ferry at Nordenham-Bremerhaven.
It is possible to arrive by pleasure craft via the North Sea, the Elbe, Weser, Ems and some inland canals.
Lower Saxony is ideal for traveling by bike. It should be noted:
signposted cycle paths often lead over side roads with the status of a county road without an additional cycle path. Only in rare cases do the routes also lead over "higher quality roads" without an accompanying cycle path.
in towns the bike paths are often gone.
Cycle routes are also routed along paths that can be driven on, depending on the weather. This applies in particular to the Lüneburg Heath region. In wet weather, you may have to choose alternative routes.
An overview of long-distance cycle paths and regional routes can be found in the topic article "Cycle routes in Lower Saxony and Bremen".
With the "Niedersachsen Ticket" you can travel by train within Lower Saxony, Bremen and Hamburg for one day from 9 a.m., Saturday, Sunday and public holidays from midnight. The ticket is not valid on long-distance trains (EC, IC, ICE), but only on regional trains (RE, RB, S-Bahn, Metronom). There are 5 variants for 1 to 5 people between 23 and 39 €. The tickets are also valid on public transport in some cities (e.g. Hanover, Hamburg, Bremen, Braunschweig) (status 02-2018). You can already discover many sights from the train, e.g. B. on the journey on the historic route of the Hanoverian Southern Railway once along through southern Lower Saxony.
You can also discover Lower Saxony from the water both with passenger shipping and as a water hiker:
Paddling on the Weser
Lower Saxony has a wide range of cycle paths on which you can leisurely discover the federal state. Well-known routes include
the Weser Cycle Path, by Hann. Münden in the southernmost tip of Lower Saxony, it continues for a good 475 km via Hamelin, Rinteln and Nienburg up to the mouth of the Weser in the North Sea near Bremerhaven
the Leine-Heide Cycle Route, which, coming from Thuringia, leads from Friedland northwards first through southern Lower Saxony, then through the Hanover region and on through the Aller-Leine valley and the Lüneburg Heath to Hamburg
the Weser-Harz-Heide cycle path, which is also in the very south in Hann. Münden and leads partly on old railway lines, first via the Hohen Hagen near Dransfeld on the route of the Dransfeld ramp to Göttingen, then through the Eichsfeld to Duderstadt, then through the Harz Mountains via Clausthal-Zellerfeld to Goslar, further via Braunschweig through the Lüneburg Heath to to Lueneburg.
The residents of the Hanover region are said to speak High German in
the purest form of the entire Federal Republic. But also in all other
urban regions of Lower Saxony, one only encounters the High German
Nevertheless, in addition to the official language German, the minority language Sater Frisian and Low German are also permitted for official use in Lower Saxony. Travelers encounter these two languages, among other things, in the place-name signs of the regions concerned, in which the place names are usually given in both common languages, but also increasingly in everyday language use. While a few years ago only the older residents spoke the various variants of Low German (also known colloquially as Low German or Plattdüütsch), attention is increasingly being paid to preserving the language and customs.
You only come across Saterland Frisian in the municipality of Saterland in the district of Cloppenburg. This last language variant of East Frisian is only spoken by around 1500 people, making the region one of the smallest language islands in Europe.
Low Saxon as a subgroup of the Low German language is still spoken with some subspecies in several regions of the country:
North Low Saxon in East Friesland with the East Frisian Platt, in Oldenburg Land the Oldenburger Platt, in Emsland the Emsland, and the Heidjer Platt of the Lüneburg Heath
Ostfalisch in the rural regions of the Hildesheimer Börde, the northern Harz foothills and southern Lower Saxony
Westphalian in the Osnabrück area and in the county of Bentheim.
However, since the official language and everyday communication also function in all regions, at least in High German, no traveler need worry that without knowledge of Low German (which can sound very foreign to non-locals at first) it would not be possible to get anywhere.
In addition, people in Lower Saxony generally speak and understand English, and this should at least apply to all tourist information. Knowledge of French is not uncommon due to the many years of practice in school language teaching. B. in the county of Bentheim mostly understood and often spoken.
More on the subject on the Eating and drinking in Lower Saxony page.
A particularly typical Lower Saxon dish is green cabbage, also known as brown cabbage in some regions of Lower Saxony. It is traditionally eaten in the Braunschweiger Land, in the Hanover region and in the Hildesheim area with Bregenwurst, the name of which comes from the pig's brain (called Bregen or Brägen) originally used for it. In other regions, in East Friesland as well as in Bremen, the kale is traditionally served with Pinkel, a grützwurst. Kasseler, pork belly and coarse sausages are also common depending on the region. As a traveler in Lower Saxony you should not miss the opportunity to try the traditional kale in a rural inn in late autumn - kale is only harvested after the first frost - or in the more extravagant restaurants one of the many modern variants this vitamin-rich vegetable.
Another culinary specialty from Lower Saxony is the white and yellow Guelph dish in the colors of the Welf family.
The smelt (lat. Osmerus eperlanus) belongs to the same family as salmon and sea trout. Like its big siblings, the smelt migrates up the Elbe for a few weeks from the end of February to April at spawning time, depending on the water temperature, a feast for fish lovers. The fish is usually 15 to 18, maximum 30 centimeters long. Connoisseurs know that the smelt only tastes good if it is not older than a day, you should be able to tell that with your nose, it has a light cucumber scent. The fish are gutted and the head removed. Before frying, they are salted and then turned in rye flour. Traditionally, the smelt is eaten with warm bacon and potato salad. During the stint season, the specialty is offered in restaurants along the Elbe from the estuary up via Hamburg to around Lüneburg.
The Braunschweiger Mumme was Braunschweig's export hit in the Middle Ages. The viscous strong beer kept for a long time due to its high alcohol and sugar content and was therefore sold all over the world as provisions for seafaring. With its vitamins and high nutritional value, it contributed to the diet of seafarers and also protected against scurvy. In the 18th century, alcohol was dispensed with and the viscous malt extract was created, which today is mainly used to refine food and drinks. Mumme can be mixed with water, milk, tea and beer, for example, or used to refine sauces, sausage, cheese and cakes. There are now even cookbooks on the subject. The Mumme is offered in some grocery stores in and around Braunschweig and it is also used in some restaurants. You can buy the Mumme at the tourist information, Kleine Burg 14 and there are also guided tours on the subject.
For travelers interested in education, Lower Saxony offers many
opportunities for study trips, educational leave or study visits to one
of the many universities.
The best-known universities in the state are the Georg-August University in Göttingen, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University and the Medical University in Hanover and the Technical Universities in Braunschweig and Clausthal-Zellerfeld, followed by the universities in Hildesheim, Lüneburg, and Oldenburg Osnabruck. University locations are also Elsfleth, Emden, Leer, Salzgitter, Suderburg, Vechta, Wilhelmshaven, Wolfenbüttel and Wolfsburg.
Lower Saxony is also the federal state with the most adult education centers, which originally arose from the (Danish) labor movement and from church educational work and were particularly successful in the rural structures of Lower Saxony: The total of 23 Lower Saxony adult education centers offer educational leave and seminars with hotel character (different standards) with the various educational institutions always having their own focal points. In Lower Saxony these are e.g. the Evangelical Education Center in Hermannsburg near Celle, the oldest folk high school in Lower Saxony, the Catholic Academy St. Jakobushaus in Goslar, the Academy Waldschlösschen near Bremke in southern Lower Saxony, which emerged from the gay movement, the Political Education Center in Helmstedt and the International House Sonnenberg near Sankt andreasberg In addition to the seminar content and learning experiences, all houses also offer the opportunity to get to know the place and the region on excursions.
If you are looking for work while traveling to improve your travel
budget, you will not have to look long for job opportunities in rural
Lower Saxony, especially during the harvest season - provided you do not
shy away from physically demanding work or long working hours. In the
asparagus season, e.g. For example, in the Celle region, during the
fruit harvest in the Altes Land, but also during the strawberry season
or the grain harvest, many farms across the country are looking for
harvest helpers - contact points for job seekers are either the local
employment offices or the chambers of agriculture.
In all tourist regions, temporary workers are also sought during the holiday season, this is particularly true on the East Frisian Islands, where the need for kitchen staff and cleaning staff cannot be covered by local workers and there is actually always a search for staff. Seasonal employees are also being sought in the entertainment and sports sectors in the holiday centers on the North Sea coast, in the Lüneburg Heath or in the Harz Mountains, and in the Harz Mountains also in winter sports.
In Lower Saxony, people are also looking for qualified employees as temporary workers or for long-term employment in the field of geriatric care. There is a major shortage of workers here, especially in rural areas, so that temporary workers are often hired. There is also a shortage of skilled workers in many other sectors of the economy, often particularly pronounced in rural areas. As everywhere, the first point of contact for job seekers is the local employment agency. See also: https://karriere.niedersachsen.de
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Christmas Eve (December 24) and New Year's Eve (December 31) are not public holidays. Nevertheless, on these days many businesses are closed all day and many shops and leisure facilities are closed from midday. Depending on the city, local public transport can be severely restricted or even stopped from the afternoon. Most of the restaurants are also closed on Christmas Eve.
The area of today's federal
state of Lower Saxony belonged to different territories in its history.
Before 1946, the terms "Lower Saxony" and "Low Saxon" only occasionally
referred to various parts of today's federal state. The name and coat of
arms of today's state go back to the Germanic tribe of the Saxons and
the tribal duchy of Saxony. From around the 7th century, the Saxons
occupied a settlement area that roughly corresponded to today's Lower
Saxony (with the parts of Engern and East Westphalia), Westphalia and
some areas bordering to the east, such as the western and northern parts
of Saxony-Anhalt, and also the older ones Settlement areas in northern
Albingia included. The territory of the Saxons was divided into about 60
districts and was largely conquered by Charlemagne in the Saxon Wars at
the end of the 8th century. The originally dominant language of the
population in the area of Old Saxony is Saxon, a language variety of Low
German. In the east of the tribal area (in today's Drawehn and Wendland)
Slavic-speaking Polabs had settled since the 8th century and were soon
conquered by the Saxons. On the other hand, the Frisians living on the
North Sea coast retained their independence for centuries (Frisian
freedom) and were mostly loosely assigned to the Duchy of Lower
The permanent demarcation of what was later called Lower Saxony from Westphalia and some eastern parts of the state began in the 12th century. The last Duke of Saxony to rule over the entire tribal duchy was Henry the Lion. After his disempowerment in 1180, the old tribal duchy was divided, while the Saxon dukedom first passed to the Ascanians, then to the Margraves of Meissen (Wettner, 1423). In 1260, in a treaty between the Archdiocese of Cologne and the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, the areas of interest of both territories were separated and Westphalia was assigned to the Cologne sphere of influence. The border ran north of Nienburg along the Weser. The northern part of the Weser-Ems area was assigned to the sphere of influence of Braunschweig-Lüneburg.
The term "Lower Saxony" was first used before 1300 in a Dutch rhyming chronicle. From the 14th century it referred to the Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg in contrast to Saxe-Wittenberg, which shared the Saxon dukedom and was then ruled by two branches of the Ascanians. When the imperial circles were founded from 1500, the Lower Saxony imperial circle was distinguished from the Lower Rhine-Westphalian imperial circle. The following areas, some of which now belong to the state of Lower Saxony, were assigned to the latter: the Bishopric of Osnabrück, the Bishopric of Münster, the County of Bentheim, the County of Hoya, the Principality of East Frisia, the Principality of Verden, the County of Diepholz, the County of Oldenburg, the County of Schaumburg and the County Spiegelberg. At the same time, the eastern part of the old Sachsenland was distinguished from the Central German principalities later called "Upper Saxony" for dynastic reasons (see also Electorate of Saxony, History of Saxony).
The close historical connection between the states of the Lower Saxon Empire in today's Lower Saxony existed for centuries, especially in dynastic terms. Most of the country's predecessor territories were sub-principalities of the medieval Guelph Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. All Welf princes called themselves Dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg in their respective principalities, which were often fragmented and reunited again and again.
Between 1806 and 1813 most parts of today's Lower Saxony belonged to the Confederation of the Rhine or Napoleonic France. After the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806, East Friesland and Jeverland were incorporated into the Kingdom of Holland and thus into the French sphere of influence. In 1810 the area was placed directly under the French Empire as the Ems-Orientale department. The Rheiderland in western East Friesland was spun off from East Friesland due to old Dutch claims and added to the Dutch department of Ems-Occidental with the capital Groningen.
On January 1, 1811, the three Hanseatic departments Ober-Ems (with the capital Osnabrück), Wesermündung (with the capital Bremen) and Elbmündung (with the capital Hamburg) were formed. On April 27, 1811, the department of Lippe with the capital Münster was added. Parts of today's Emsland belonged to this department. After the defeat of Napoleon these departments were dissolved from 1813 to 1815.
Over time, two larger monarchies remained east of the Weser:
the Kingdom of Hanover and the Duchy of Brunswick (free state/state
after 1919). Historically, there is a close bond between the
aristocratic family in Hanover (Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg) and
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, due to the
personal union of the 18th century.
West of the Hunte, a "de-Westphalianization process" began in 1815: After the Congress of Vienna, the areas of what later became the administrative districts of Osnabrück and Aurich came under the Kingdom of Hanover.
After the German War in 1866, the Kingdom
of Hanover was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia and "degraded" to a
Prussian province. After 1918 the province of Hanover belonged to the
Free State of Prussia. In contrast, the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, the
Duchy of Brunswick and the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe retained
their territorial autonomy within Germany until November 1, 1946.
In a lecture on September 14, 2007, Dietmar von Reeken described the emergence of a "Lower Saxony consciousness" in the 19th century, the spatial basis of which was invented as a spatial construct in the 19th century: The emerging homeland associations and the associated magazines bore the term "Lower Saxony" or "Low Saxon" as programmatic in the name. At the end of the 1920s, a twenty-five-year dispute between "Lower Saxony" and "Westphalia" began in the context of discussions about a reform of the Reich and accelerated by the spreading homeland movements. The carriers of this dispute were administrative officials and politicians; regionally working scientists from different disciplines would have provided the arguments. In the 1930s, a real Lower Saxony did not yet exist, but there was a wealth of institutions that called themselves "Lower Saxon". The motives and arguments in the disputes between "Lower Saxony" and "Westphalia" were very similar on both sides: economic interests, political objectives, cultural interests and historical aspects. In 2006, Thomas Vogtherr said the following in a ceremonial address on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Lower Saxony: "Lower Saxony [...] is an invention of the 19th century, which, through many intermediate stages, became a political reality as a result of the Second World War."
According to Vogtherr, anyone who spoke of "Lower Saxony" after 1866 also meant an anti-Prussian leader. Those who invoked the values of their homeland in Lower Saxony wanted to distance themselves from Berlin's centralism. Whoever claimed that the concept of Lower Saxony had been extended to Oldenburg or Brunswick was attempting to hold the inhabitants of these still independent dominions under anti-Prussian collective liability, so to speak. In the years after 1866, the number of books with the keyword “Lower Saxony” in their titles increased explosively.
In 1920, the entire Weser-Ems area (including the city of Bremen) that is now Lower Saxony was assigned to a constituency association IX (Lower Saxony). This can be seen as an indication that at that time the western administrative districts of the Prussian province of Hanover and the state of Oldenburg were perceived as "Lower Saxon". In 1927, the “Lower Saxony State Employment Office” (as the predecessor of today’s “Lower Saxony-Bremen Regional Directorate of the Federal Employment Agency”) became responsible for the same area.
Forerunners of today's state of Lower Saxony are states that were geographically and partly also institutionally interlinked at an early stage. The county of Schaumburg (not to be confused with the Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe) around the towns of Rinteln and Hessisch Oldendorf belonged to the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau until 1932, which also included large parts of today's state of Hesse, including the cities of Kassel, Wiesbaden and Frankfurt am Main included In 1932, however, the county of Schaumburg became part of the Prussian province of Hanover.
Also before 1945, namely in 1937, the city of Cuxhaven was fully incorporated into the Prussian province of Hanover by the Greater Hamburg Act, so that when the state of Lower Saxony was founded on November 1, 1946, only four states had to be merged. With the exception of Bremen and the areas that had been ceded to the SBZ after 1945, all areas that had already been combined in 1920 to form the “Lower Saxony constituency association” were assigned to the state of Lower Saxony in 1946.
In 1934 Hermann Lübbing commented on the future of the state of Oldenburg, he saw it in the role of a courted bride with two suitors, namely the supporters of a state of Lower Saxony and the supporters of a Westphalia in the tradition of the Lower Rhine-Westphalian Reichskreis. Lübbing reproaches both groups for not respecting the circumstances, i. H. Firstly, the existing political borders associated with traditions, secondly, the natural borders ("Lower" refers to the North German Plain; there is no justification for the inclusion of further low mountain range regions; there is also no coherent natural explanation for the eastern border of Lower Saxony) and thirdly, the tribal borders (Frisians are not Saxons). According to Lübbing, the “bride of Oldenburg” reserved “the sacrifice of her independence for a new German Reich” (with the National Socialists as “bridegroom”, so to speak). Apparently, in 1934 Lübbing advocated neither a "Greater Hanover" nor a "Greater Westphalia" as a new home for the Oldenburgers, but rather a kind of "Greater Oldenburg", which is said to have been rejected at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, but in form of the Weser-Ems-Gau of the NSDAP in 1925 (internal to the party) and 1933 (decisive for the state organization). This Gau actually represented a kind of "Greater Oldenburg" in that both Gauleiters, Carl Röver and Paul Wegener, came from the state of Oldenburg and from the city of Oldenburg, where the National Socialists were able to form their first state government in the German Reich in 1932. the previously independent city of Bremen was also to be administered. However, the Gauleiter Weser-Ems was only Reich governor in the state of Oldenburg and in the Hanseatic city of Bremen. The senior president of the Prussian province of Hanover held a position comparable to a Reich governor in the government districts of Aurich and Osnabrück, so that Röver's and Wegener's influence on these parts of the Weser-Ems district remained limited.
After the Second World War, north-west Germany was largely in the
British occupation zone. With Decree No. 46 of the British military
government of August 23, 1946 "concerning the dissolution of the
provinces of the former state of Prussia in the British zone and their
re-establishment as independent states", the state of Hanover was
established on the territory of the Prussian province of Hanover. As
early as June 1945, its Prime Minister Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf had
suggested the formation of a state of Lower Saxony, which was to cover
as large an area as possible in the middle of the British zone. In
addition to the areas that were later actually assigned to Lower Saxony,
in a memorandum from April 1946, Kopf called for the inclusion of the
former Prussian district of Minden-Ravensberg (i.e. the Westphalian
cities of Bielefeld and Herford as well as the Westphalian districts of
Minden, Lübbecke, Bielefeld, Herford and Halle ( Westf.)), the district
of Tecklenburg and the state of Lippe. Ultimately, Kopf's plan is based
on a draft for the reform of the German Reich that had been presented by
Georg Schnath and Kurt Brüning in the late 1920s. According to Thomas
Vogtherr, the "Welf-heavyness" of this draft did not facilitate the
development of a "Lower Saxon identity" after 1946.
An alternative model, propagated by politicians in Oldenburg and Brunswick, envisaged founding a separate state “Weser-Ems” in the northwest, which would consist of the state of Oldenburg, the Hanseatic city of Bremen and the administrative districts of Aurich and Osnabrück. Some representatives of the state of Oldenburg even called for the Hanoverian districts of Diepholz, Syke, Osterholz-Scharmbeck and Wesermünde to be included in the newly founded “Weser-Ems” state. Likewise, in the south-east, a state of Braunschweig enlarged by the administrative district of Hildesheim and the rural district of Gifhorn was to be retained. If this plan had been implemented, the area of present-day Lower Saxony would consist of three states of roughly the same size.
On June 12, 1946, the district council of the district of Vechta protested against the district being assigned to the “Greater Hanover Area”. In the event of the dissolution of the state of Oldenburg, the district of Vechta should rather be integrated into the Westphalia area. In political Catholic circles in particular, the view was widespread that the Oldenburger Münsterland and the administrative district of Osnabrück should be added to a newly founded state of "Westphalia".
Since the founding of the states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hanover on August 23, 1946, the northern and eastern borders of North Rhine-Westphalia have largely been identical to the corresponding borders of the Prussian province of Westphalia. Only the state of Lippe was assigned to North Rhine-Westphalia in January 1947. As a result, a large part of the areas on the left bank of the Upper Weser became part of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Areas of present-day Lower Saxony in the British occupation zone (1946)
Ultimately, at the meeting of the Zone Advisory Council on September 20, 1946, Kopf's proposal for dividing the British occupation zone into three territorial states proved to be able to win a majority. Since this division of their zone of occupation into large countries also corresponded to the interests of the British, Decree No. 55 was issued by the British military government on November 8, 1946, through which the state of Lower Saxony with Hanover as the capital was founded with retrospective effect from November 1, 1946. The state emerged from the union of the free states of Braunschweig, Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe with the previously formed state of Hanover. There were exceptions:
In the Free State of Braunschweig, the eastern part of the district of Blankenburg and the exclave of Calvörde in the district of Helmstedt fell into the Soviet occupation zone and were later integrated into the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
In the state of Hanover, the Neuhaus district and the towns of Neu Bleckede and Neu Wendischthun fell into the Soviet zone of occupation and thus into what later became the GDR. They were only reassigned to Lower Saxony in 1993.
The city of Wesermünde, located in what was then the administrative district of Stade, was renamed Bremerhaven in 1947 and incorporated into the new state of Bremen.
Demands by Dutch politicians, according to which the Netherlands should receive German areas east of the German-Dutch border as reparations, were only largely shelved at the London Germany Conference on March 26, 1949. In fact, around 1.3 square kilometers in western Lower Saxony were ceded to the Netherlands in 1949.
On December 9, 1946, the first Lower Saxony state
parliament met. He was not elected but employed by the British
occupation administration (appointed Parliament). On the same day, the
state parliament elected Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf (SPD), the former district
president of Hanover, as the first prime minister. Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf
remained - interrupted by the reign of Heinrich Hellwege (1955-1959) -
head of government in Lower Saxony until 1961. On April 13, 1951, the
"Preliminary Lower Saxony Constitution" came into force.
The most important problem in the first post-war years was the large number of refugees from the former eastern regions of the German Reich, who sought refuge in the large area. Lower Saxony was at the western end of the direct escape route from East Prussia and had the longest border with the Soviet occupation zone. On October 3, 1950, Lower Saxony took over the sponsorship of the numerous refugees from Silesia here. According to official figures, around 730,000 apartments were still missing in 1950.
During the period of German division, most of the transit traffic to West Berlin was handled via the Helmstedt checkpoint in Lower Saxony to the German Democratic Republic.
During the Cold War, due to the country's location on the "Iron Curtain" and the strategic importance of the North German Plain, Lower Saxony was a NATO stationing focus for decades; In addition to British and Dutch troops, strong army units of the German Federal Armed Forces have been stationed here since the late 1950s.
The Volkswagen Group, which initially
began producing civilian vehicles again under British supervision in
1945, was economically influential for the state. Overall, Lower Saxony,
with its large, rural area and its few urban centers, has long been one
of the structurally weak regions of the Federal Republic. In 1957, 30.4%
of the labor force was still employed in agriculture and forestry, and
in 1960 it was still 20% in agriculture. In the rest of Germany, this
figure was 14%. Even in favorable economic times, the unemployment rate
in Lower Saxony remained constantly higher than the national average.
In 1961 Georg Diederichs succeeded Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf as Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. He was replaced here in 1970 by Alfred Kubel. The disputes surrounding the Gorleben nuclear waste storage facility, which began during the government of Prime Minister Ernst Albrecht (1976–1990), have played an important role in Lower Saxony state and federal politics since the late 1970s.
In 1990 Gerhard Schröder took up the office of Prime Minister. On June
1, 1993, the state's new constitution came into effect, replacing the
"Preliminary Lower Saxony Constitution" of 1951. For the first time, it
enables referendums and referendums and anchors environmental protection
as a state principle.
The former Hanoverian district of Neuhaus with the former municipalities of Dellien, Haar, Kaarßen, Neuhaus (Elbe), Stapel, Sückau, Sumte and Tripkau as well as the Neu Bleckede, Neu Wendischthun and Stiepelse districts of the Teldau municipality and the historic Hanoverian area in the Bohldamm forest district of the municipality of Garlitz moved from Mecklenburg-West Pomerania to the state of Lower Saxony (district of Lüneburg) with effect from June 30, 1993. Neu Bleckede and Neu Wendischthun were incorporated back into the town of Bleckede, to which they had belonged until 1945, on the same day. On October 1, 1993, the new community of Amt Neuhaus was formed from the other communities and districts.
In 1998 Gerhard Glogowski replaced Gerhard Schröder, who had moved to the Federal Chancellery. As he was linked to various scandals in his hometown of Braunschweig, he resigned in 1999 and was succeeded by Sigmar Gabriel.
From 2003 until his acceptance of the
election as Federal President in 2010, Christian Wulff was Prime
Minister of Lower Saxony. Like his successor David McAllister, the
Osnabrück native headed a CDU-led coalition government with the FDP.
On January 1, 2005, the four administrative districts into which Lower Saxony had been divided since 1978 were dissolved. These were the administrative districts of Braunschweig, Hanover, Lüneburg and Weser-Ems. For its part, the Braunschweig administrative district was formed in 1978 from the merger of the Braunschweig administrative district with parts of the former Hildesheim administrative district and parts of the old Lüneburg district, the "new" Hanover administrative district from the expansion of the old Hanover district by parts of the former Hildesheim administrative district, the Lüneburg administrative district from the merger of the largest Part of the old district of Lüneburg with the former government district of Stade, the government district of Weser-Ems arose from the merger of the administrative district of Oldenburg (Oldb) with the former government districts of Aurich and Osnabrück. Instead of the district governments, government agencies were set up at the locations in Braunschweig, Hanover, Lüneburg and Oldenburg for special tasks. (see areas of responsibility of the regional officers)
After the state elections in January 2013, a government was formed under Stephan Weil from the SPD. Instead of the government representatives for the areas of the former government districts, so-called state officers were installed as regional contact persons of the state government, who have extended competencies. So there are no more government districts.
On August 4, 2017, the red-green government lost its one-vote majority when MP Elke Twesten from the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group defected to the CDU. As a result, the state parliament decided to dissolve itself and hold new elections. Based on the new election results, a government of SPD and CDU was formed under the leadership of Stephan Weil.
Lower Saxony has a natural border in the north by the North Sea and
the lower reaches and lower middle reaches of the Elbe. Excluded from
this classification are the Neuhaus district, which lies to the
north-east of the river, and the southern Elbe parts of Hamburg.
Surrounded by the state territory as an enclave is the state of Bremen,
which consists of the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. Together with
the surrounding area, it forms the Northwest metropolitan region. In the
southeast, the state border runs through the low mountain range of the
Harz Mountains. The north-east and the west - a total of around three
quarters of the state area - belong to the North German Plain, the south
to the Lower Saxony highlands with the Weserbergland, Leinebergland,
Schaumburger Land, Braunschweiger Land, Untereichsfeld, Elm and
Lappwald. The Lüneburg Heath and the Elbe-Weser triangle, which is
dominated by the Stader Geest, lie in the north-east of Lower Saxony.
While poorer sandy soils of the geest prevail there, productive soils
with high natural fertility can be found in the middle east and
south-east in the loess fjord zone. Under these conditions (loamy and
sandy soils), the country is considered to be well developed for
agriculture. To the west lie the County of Bentheim, the Osnabrücker
Land, the Emsland, the Oldenburger Land, the Ammerland, the Oldenburger
Münsterland and - on the coast - Ostfriesland.
The deepest point in the terrain is a depression near Freepsum in East Friesland at around two and a half meters below sea level. The highest mountain in Lower Saxony is the Wurmberg in the Harz Mountains at 971 m above sea level. NN. Most of the mountains and hills can be found in the southeast of the country.
See also: List of mountains and elevations in Lower Saxony
The settlement, economic and infrastructural focus of Lower Saxony is in the area of the cities of Stadthagen - Hanover with the region of Hanover - Celle - Braunschweig - Wolfsburg - Hildesheim - Salzgitter. Together with Göttingen in southern Lower Saxony, they form the core of the Hanover-Brunswick-Göttingen-Wolfsburg metropolitan region.
Lower Saxony has a clear regional structure, which is manifested both in the landscape and in historical, traditional-denominational and cultural lines of development. In the formerly independent sub-areas of Braunschweig, Hanover, Oldenburg, Schaumburg and the former Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück, which was directly under the Reich until 1803, especially in their core areas, one often finds a pronounced local patriotism to this day, as well as in East Friesland, the County of Bentheim and in the traditional Roman Catholic areas shaped regions of Emsland, Eichsfeld and Oldenburger Münsterland. In the areas surrounding the Hanseatic cities of Bremen and Hamburg, on the other hand, an orientation towards these centers is more common. Today's metropolitan regions, which are located in Lower Saxony, take into account the regionally prevailing orientation that is relevant in everyday life, which is expressed, for example, in the form of economic cooperation and commuter flows.
The different regions and diverse landscapes - from the Harz
Mountains to the coast - are characteristic of the country. Lower Saxony
cannot look back on centuries of coherent state history, but many people
are trying not to let what separates them come to the fore, but instead
to develop a strength of the state over time and thus give Lower Saxony
Former administrative and governmental districts
Even today, the catchment areas of many church and social institutions, the borders of chambers of commerce and crafts and cultural institutions are based on the historical areas, which existed in the form of administrative and government districts until 1978 and currently continue to exist in the landscapes and landscape associations. The catchment area of today's regional representatives of the state government is based on the enlarged administrative districts that arose after 1978 through mergers. The NUTS 2 regions in Lower Saxony also correspond to the former administrative districts of Lower Saxony.
With its nine neighbors Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein,
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia,
Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony is the state with the
Lower Saxony also has a border with the Dutch provinces of Overijssel, Drenthe and Groningen. In the area of the Ems estuary, the exact course of the border between Germany and the Netherlands is not precisely defined under international law. Although the two states agreed on good partnership-based cooperation in the treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the regulation of cooperation in the Ems estuary of April 8, 1960, there are always differences on detailed issues, most recently, for example the approval of planned offshore wind farms.
The border at the mouth of the Elbe is also disputed with Schleswig-Holstein.
All rivers in Lower Saxony flow directly or indirectly into the North Sea. A distinction is made between the three catchment areas of the Ems, Weser and Elbe. Only the rivers Vechte, Harle, Jade and Maade and a few other marsh waters that drain directly into the North Sea do not belong to any of the aforementioned catchment areas.
Lower Saxony is rich in natural lakes, which usually only have a low
average depth. The largest lake is the Steinhuder Meer with an area of
29.1 km², followed by the Dümmer with 13.5 km² and the Zwischenahner
Meer with 5.5 km². The fourth largest lake is the Great Sea in East
Friesland with 2.89 km².
Various information on the approximately 280 bathing waters in Lower Saxony can be found in the Lower Saxony bathing water atlas. In addition to the bathing water quality, you will also find information about the location and the infrastructure such as parking lots, sanitary facilities or lifeguards. The bathing water quality is determined based on the monitoring results of the last four bathing seasons. Accordingly, each bathing water receives a quality category from “excellent” to “poor”.
There are 86 dams in Lower Saxony that are monitored by the Lower
Saxony State Agency for Water Management, Coastal Defense and Nature
Conservation (NLWKN). According to the dam definition, this total number
also includes about 30 Upper Harz reservoirs of the Upper Harz ponds,
which represent a significant part of the Upper Harz water shelf. The
Upper Harz water shelf is considered to be the most important
pre-industrial mining water management system in the world and was
declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
Most of the dams in Lower Saxony are located in the Harz Mountains, which is one of the areas in Germany with the highest rainfall. There are 78 dams in the Oker, Innerste, Rhume, Leine and Aller catchment areas. There are five dams in the Ems, Hase and Hunte catchment areas, two in the Ilmenau area and only one dam in the Weser catchment area in Lower Saxony. The dams are used both for drinking water production and for flood protection.
The largest dam in Lower Saxony is the Okertalsperre with a storage volume of 47.4 million cubic meters. The oldest dam is the Thülsfeld dam in the Cloppenburg district, which was built between 1924 and 1927.
At the end of 2011 there were 1,272 landscape protection areas in Lower Saxony with a total area of 9,857 square kilometers. That is 18.58 percent of the total area of Lower Saxony. The largest conservation areas are the Südheide conservation area with 43,775 hectares, the Harz conservation area in the Goslar district with 39,018 hectares and the Elbhöhen-Drawehn conservation area with 37,105 hectares.
Furthermore, at the end of 2011 there were 772 nature reserves with an area of 1,988 square kilometers, which corresponded to 3.75 percent of the total area of Lower Saxony. The largest nature reserve is the Lüneburger Heide nature reserve with 23,437 hectares, followed by the Borkum Riff nature reserve with 10,000 hectares and the Esterweger Dose nature reserve with 4,747 hectares. The Lüneburg Heath nature reserve is also the oldest nature reserve in Lower Saxony. It was placed under protection on January 12, 1922.
Lower Saxony also has 13 nature parks with a total area of 937,721
hectares. That is 17.68 percent of the country's area. These are the
nature parks Dümmer, Elbhöhen-Wendland, Elm-Lappwald, Harz, Lüneburger
Heide, Münden, Terra.vita, Solling-Vogler, Steinhuder Meer, Südheide,
Weserbergland, Wildeshauser Geest, Bourtanger Moor-Bargerveen. The
largest nature park is the Wildeshauser Geest with 155,400 hectares.
To protect the ecosystem and for recreation, Lower Saxony, with the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park (345,800 ha), is part of an almost continuous chain of protected areas of the Wadden Sea between Blåvandshuk (Denmark) and Den Helder (Netherlands). Together with Saxony-Anhalt, the Harz National Park (approx. 15,800 ha in Lower Saxony and 8,900 ha in Saxony-Anhalt) with its extensive forest areas and moors was also designated as a German national park.
Lower Saxony belongs to the temperate climate zone of Central Europe in the area of the westerly wind zone and is located in the transition area between the maritime climate in Western Europe and the continental climate in Eastern Europe. This transition is clearly noticeable within the country: while the north-west has an Atlantic (North Sea coast) to sub-Atlantic climate with comparatively low temperature amplitudes over the course of the year and a water balance surplus, towards the south-east the climate is increasingly influenced by continental influences. This becomes clear from the greater temperature differences between the summer and winter months and from lower and seasonally unequally distributed precipitation. This subcontinental coloring is most pronounced in the Wendland, in the Weserbergland (Hameln to Göttingen) and in the Helmstedt area. The highest levels of precipitation are recorded in the Harz Mountains, as the Lower Saxony part is the windward side of this low mountain range, which is where, among other things, uphill rain discharges. The annual mean temperature is 8 °C (7.5 °C in the Altes Land and 8.5 °C in the Cloppenburg district).
The Lower Saxony constitution dates from May 19, 1993 and came into
force on June 1, 1993. In contrast to that of other state constitutions,
the history is closely linked to the development of Germany.
In 1951, an interim constitution (Provisional Lower Saxony Constitution) was passed, which regulated the state foundations in the period up to German reunification. Since the Provisional Lower Saxony Constitution could refer to the Basic Law, a catalog of fundamental rights was not included. With the reunification of Germany, the reservation of provisional status no longer applied. The new Lower Saxony constitution of 1993 was based on the provisional Lower Saxony constitution.
The last change of government took place on February 19, 2013, after
the state elections on January 20, 2013. The CDU was the strongest
parliamentary group, but together with the Greens, the SPD won a narrow
majority of one vote in the newly elected state parliament. The SPD and
Greens then formed the new state government with Stephan Weil as prime
minister, who was also confirmed in office by the state parliament. The
previous government under David McAllister was voted out. The government
has been without a parliamentary majority since August 4, 2017, as a
Green MP left the government faction and switched to the CDU. As a
result, state elections were scheduled for October 15, 2017. Since the
SPD emerged from the election as the strongest faction, the incumbent
Prime Minister, Stephan Weil, began coalition negotiations with the CDU.
In the 2022 state elections, the SPD was again elected as the strongest force and began coalition negotiations with the Greens. After five days of negotiations, the coalition agreement was presented. At the constituent meeting on November 8, 2022, Stefan Weil was re-elected Prime Minister.
The Prime Ministers of Lower Saxony:
1946-1955: Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf SPD
1955-1959: Heinrich Hellwege DP
1959-1961: Hinrich Wilhelm Kopf SPD
1961–1970: Georg Diederich's SPD
1970-1976: Alfred Kubel SPD
1976-1990: Ernst Albrecht CDU
1990-1998: Gerhard Schroeder SPD
1998-1999: Gerhard Glogowski SPD
1999-2003: Sigmar Gabriel SPD
2003-2010: Christian Wulff CDU
2010-2013: David McAllister CDU
since 2013: Stephan Weil SPD
As of December 31, 2006, a total debt of 48.7 billion euros was
determined. Of this, the securities debts amounted to around 20.5
billion euros, while the debts from promissory note loans alone at
domestic banks and savings banks amounted to around 26.4 billion euros.
In 2007, EUR 950 million in new debt was taken on. New debt of 550 million euros was planned and achieved for 2008. The reduction in new debt to EUR 0 planned for 2010 could not be implemented due to the economic and financial crisis. Instead, new debt of EUR 2,300 million was taken out for 2009.
The Association of Taxpayers Lower Saxony and Bremen maintains a debt clock in the Lower Saxony state parliament in Hanover, which shows the increase in national debt in Lower Saxony. After a peak of 93 euros per second in 2002, the debt was reduced in the following years from 90 euros per second in 2003 to 30 euros per second in 2007 and 17 euros per second in 2008. In 2010, the value should actually be reduced to 0 euros per second, bringing the new debt to a standstill. Due to the economic and financial crisis, the value initially rose to the record amount of 105 euros per second, and there has been no new debt since 2016.
In the Bundesrat, Lower Saxony, like Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and
North Rhine-Westphalia, has the highest possible number of six votes.
Lower Saxony is represented by Prime Minister Stephan Weil, his deputy,
Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour, Transport and Digitization Bernd
Althusmann, Minister of Justice Barbara Havliza, Minister of Finance
Reinhold Hilbers, Minister for Federal and European Affairs Birgit Honé
and Minister for the Environment, Energy, Building and Climate
Protection Olaf Lies. The work in the Bundesrat is coordinated by the
representation of the state of Lower Saxony at the federal level.
66 MPs represent the citizens of Lower Saxony in the German Bundestag: 31 from the CDU, 25 from the SPD, six from Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and four from the Left Party.
The European Parliament has ten members from Lower Saxony: four from the CDU, two from the SPD, two from Alliance 90/The Greens and one each from the FDP and Left Party. In Brussels, the state of Lower Saxony maintains the representation of the state of Lower Saxony at the European Union for the coordination of European policy and representation.
The Police of Lower Saxony is the state police of Lower Saxony. It
reports to the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sport. As the
executive body of the state of Lower Saxony, it has the task of ensuring
public safety and order within the framework of police law. As a law
enforcement agency, it takes action against illegal and criminal acts,
investigates perpetrators and analyzes crime patterns. Another task is
to avert dangers in the area of internal security. As part of traffic
monitoring, it regulates traffic flows and plays a key role in emergency
assistance (emergency call). Furthermore, the police, in close
cooperation with the judiciary and other authorities, ensure crime
prevention in order to identify and prevent possible criminal offenses
The Lower Saxony State Police was born on April 1, 1951, when the Lower Saxony Law on Public Safety and Order (SOG) came into force. In the post-war period, the police had previously been organized on a communal basis due to the British occupation. With the major police reform of 1994, the divisions of the protection and criminal police were merged. The current (2011) structure of the police organization in Lower Saxony came about through a major reorganization in 2004. The police were taken out of the four district governments that were dissolved in 2004 (Brunswick, Hanover, Weser-Ems, Lüneburg). This resulted in the current police departments in the area.
There are around 500 police stations in Lower Saxony, with around-the-clock shift operation taking place at 140 locations. Around 23,000 employees are employed, of which around 18,500 are civil servants.
Today's draft of the coat of arms of Lower Saxony comes from the
heraldist and coat of arms painter Gustav Völker, who was born in
Isernhagen and later lived in Hanover. He also designed the coats of
arms of Großburgwedel, Mellendorf, Wunstorf and many other places. In
1946, the Sachsenross was initially chosen as the unofficial coat of
arms of the state and five years later it was confirmed by the state
parliament on April 3, 1951. The state coat of arms was anchored in the
Provisional Lower Saxony Constitution of April 13, 1951 and reconfirmed
in the Lower Saxony Constitution that came into force on June 1, 1993.
Blazon: "The state of Lower Saxony has a semi-circular shield with a leaping white/heraldic silver steed in the red field as its state coat of arms."
Justification for the coat of arms: The coat of arms goes back to the Guelph dukes, who wanted to document their claim to the territory of the old Saxons at the time of the famous Duke Widukind with the Sachsenross. In the years that followed, the Sachsenross served as a coat of arms for various rulers. It found its way into the coats of arms of the Electorate as well as the Kingdom and Province of Hanover, but also the Duchy and the Free State of Brunswick.
The state uses the state colors black, red and gold with the state
coat of arms in the state flag.
In view of the different and traditional historical state colors of the states from which Lower Saxony emerged, the state founders agreed on the black, red and gold state flag with the state coat of arms as a compromise, which is valid today.
The state of Lower Saxony maintains a number of international partnerships. Within Europe, there is a partnership with the Haute-Normandie region in France, the Netherlands and the Greater Poland and Lower Silesian Voivodeships in Poland. Outside of Europe, partnerships exist in Anhui Province in the People's Republic of China, Tokushima Prefecture in Japan, the Perm and Tyumen regions in Russia and the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa.
Lower Saxony does not have an official state anthem. The Lower Saxony song is sometimes regarded as the unofficial anthem of the state of Lower Saxony. It was written and composed by Hermann Grote in 1926, around 20 years before the state was founded in 1946. Grote's original text is often criticized from various aspects and labeled as politically incorrect, so that in the meantime various adapted text versions have emerged. What they all have in common is that they were unable to assert themselves.
The highest award given by the state of Lower Saxony is the Lower Saxony State Medal. The Lower Saxony Order of Merit is awarded for achievements in state politics. In addition, the Prime Minister has been awarding the Lower Saxony State Prize since 2002, which was formerly known as the "Lower Saxony Prize". Lower Saxony awards the annual Praetorius Music Prize for music and the Nicolas Born Prize for literature.
The country is divided into 158 cities, 51 spots and 762
municipalities (of which 684 are joint municipalities) and 25
unincorporated areas, which form a total of 37 rural districts, one
region and eight urban districts.
Lower Saxony has eight major cities, of which the state capital Hanover clearly has the most inhabitants with 535,932. The second largest city, Braunschweig, has less than half as many inhabitants with 248,823. The cities of Oldenburg follow with 170,389 inhabitants, Osnabrück with 165,034, Wolfsburg with 123,949, Göttingen with 116,557, Salzgitter with 103,694 inhabitants and Hildesheim with 100,319.
There are three metropolitan regions in Lower Saxony, of which the Hanover-Brunswick-Göttingen-Wolfsburg metropolitan region is entirely in Lower Saxony. In addition to Hamburg, the metropolitan region of Hamburg also includes areas of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. The Northwest metropolitan region includes the urban area of Bremen and Bremerhaven. A metropolitan region is a densely populated metropolitan area that is seen as the engine of a country's social, societal and economic development. In Germany, metropolitan regions were first defined in 1995 by the Ministerial Conference for Regional Planning.
Completed administrative reforms
In the course of the municipal reorganization/regional reform in the 1960s to 1980s, the number of urban districts was reduced from 16 to nine and the number of rural districts from 60 to 38. Around 2,000 of the 4,000 or so parishes that were once organized as unitary parishes or as member parishes of joint parishes remained. The reforms carried out were controversial among the population and politicians and also led to numerous lawsuits before the State Court of Justice and the Federal Constitutional Court.
The following independent towns were incorporated into rural districts: Celle, Cuxhaven, Goslar, Göttingen, Hamelin, Hildesheim and Lüneburg. The following districts were dissolved: Alfeld (Leine), Aschendorf-Hümmling, Bersenbrück, Blankenburg, Braunschweig, Bremervörde, Burgdorf, Duderstadt, Einbeck, Fallingbostel, Gandersheim, County of Hoya, County of Schaumburg, Hildesheim-Marienburg, Land of Hadeln, Lingen, Melle, Meppen , Münden, Neustadt am Rübenberge, North, Schaumburg-Lippe, Soltau, Springe, Wesermünde, Wittlage, Wittmund and Zellerfeld. The district of Wittmund was reestablished in 1980. In 2001, the district of Hanover and the independent city of Hanover were merged into the Hanover region.
Until 1978, Lower Saxony was divided into the administrative districts of Oldenburg and Braunschweig, which had emerged from the previous states of the same name, and the administrative districts of Stade, Lüneburg, Hanover, Hildesheim, Osnabrück and Aurich, which had previously emerged from the Hanoverian districts. The previously independent state of Schaumburg-Lippe belonged to the administrative district of Hanover until 1978. Historically, these administrative bodies often go back to much older predecessor institutions. Their borders and catchment areas still play a role in many institutions today. In 1978 there was a reorganization into four administrative districts, which were dissolved on January 1, 2005. These were the administrative districts of Braunschweig, Hanover, Lüneburg and Weser-Ems. Their authorities, the district governments, were dissolved. The responsibilities of the district governments were redistributed to other state authorities and bodies. The task of the "supra-local municipal examination" was transferred to the Lower Saxony municipal examination institute, which was newly founded in 2005. In 2014, the new SPD-led state government introduced the institution of the state representative to represent the state government in the regions.
On October 31, 2016, the districts of Osterode am Harz and Göttingen merged to form the new district of Göttingen.
Especially since the government districts were dissolved in 2004,
there have been repeated proposals to close the gap that has arisen
(there is now no medium-sized regional authority between the state and
the municipalities). These proposals include, for example, the merging
of districts, which will become comparable regional authorities based on
the example of the Hanover region created in 2001. Concrete proposals
include the merger of the district of Lüchow-Dannenberg with one or both
of its neighboring districts in Lower Saxony, a merger of the districts
in the Braunschweig area, the merger of the districts of Schaumburg,
Hameln-Pyrmont and Holzminden in the Weser Uplands, reforms in the
coastal area and in the Lower Saxony area around Hamburg and Bremen. A
merger of the districts of Rotenburg (Wümme) and Verden was also
repeatedly proposed, but met with rejection, particularly from local
Union politicians. A merger of the city of Wilhelmshaven with the
neighboring district of Friesland, which was discussed from December
2012, was rejected by a large majority of the municipalities involved in
December 2013, despite a positive opinion from the municipal joint
office for administrative management (KGSt). The merger talks of the
district councils of the districts of Göttingen and Osterode am Harz on
November 1, 2016, which were positive from the outset, about the
formation of a new district of Göttingen were sealed with an area change
agreement on February 1, 2014. At the same time, merger talks were held
between the districts of Hildesheim and Peine, which ended in July 2015
due to a failed vote in the district of Hildesheim.
Merger of countries and relationship to Bremen
A merger between the states of Lower Saxony and Bremen has been discussed regularly for years. The Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, Christian Wulff, last proposed such a merger in early 2009. A merger is traditionally met with rejection, particularly in Bremen. In the past, relations between Bremen and Lower Saxony have repeatedly been irritated, which were often based on aspects of spatial and economic planning in the surrounding municipalities of Lower Saxony, which Bremen felt were unfavorable, where large commercial areas were created in competition with Bremen's economy (including the emergence of commuter belts ). In return, the so-called “Going it alone in Bremen” in infrastructure planning is often criticized by Lower Saxony. In this respect, the relationship between Bremen and Lower Saxony is characterized by far greater dissonance than, for example, that between Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Individual projects, on the other hand, are characterized by cooperation, for example the introduction of the Bremen/Lower Saxony regional S-Bahn, the implementation of the Northwest metropolitan region, the JadeWeserPort and the extension of tram lines from Bremen to the Lower Saxony area. In 2010, the then Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, McAllister, spoke in favor of cooperation between the federal states instead of a merger. Although he does not reject a merger, the initiative must come from Bremen, which is not to be expected.
The economic focus region of Lower Saxony is in the Hanover area. The
European metropolitan region of Hanover-Brunswick-Göttingen-Wolfsburg
serves to further strengthen this economically strong region. In
contrast, the large, rural areas in the north-east and west of Lower
Saxony, i.e. the Elbe-Weser triangle, the Lüneburg Heath, the Middle
Weser region and parts of the coastal region, have long been among the
structurally weak areas - some of these areas directly border on the
state of Bremen with the cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. The
Oldenburger Münsterland, the Emsland and the Grafschaft Bentheim form an
exception - as a rural region outside the Hanover area with economic
growth. There were and are now a number of measures to improve the
economic situation in the structurally weak areas. This includes
the Emsland autobahn A 31, co-financed with funds from the local economy, which runs from East Friesland through Emsland to Bottrop in the western Ruhr area
the coastal autobahn A 22, which is to cross the A 29 between Oldenburg and Wilhelmshaven from Schleswig-Holstein through the planned Elbe tunnel near Stade and the Weser tunnel near Dedesdorf and connect to the A 28 in the Westerstede area
several ethene pipelines that connect the chemical sites in North Rhine-Westphalia with those in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein and are intended to benefit the production sites in Stade and Wilhelmshaven in Lower Saxony in particular
the container port JadeWeserPort in Wilhelmshaven, which is the only German seaport that can also be called at by the largest container ships of future generations
In 2021, Volkswagen AG (Wolfsburg) and Continental AG (Hanover) were among the largest companies in Lower Saxony – in terms of their added value. The Talanx AG insurance group took third place ahead of Salzgitter AG and Rossmann. The energy supplier EWE AG was in sixth place, followed by Symrise AG.
The most important German share index DAX, which reflects the development of the 40 (until September 2021 30) largest and most actively traded German stocks, are Volkswagen AG (Wolfsburg), Symrise AG (Holzminden), Sartorius AG (Göttingen), Hannover Re ( Hanover) and Continental AG (Hannover). The NISAX20 share index, which was created in 2002 by the Norddeutsche Landesbank NORD/LB and is calculated by Deutsche Börse, lists the 20 most important listed companies in Lower Saxony.
Farming in Lower Saxony finds very different conditions. The soils in
the Hildesheimer Börde and between the Harz Mountains and the Mittelland
Canal are characterized by a very high number of soils and are
particularly suitable for the cultivation of sugar beet and grain. In
the Lüneburg Heath the soil is barren; The main products are potatoes
and as a specialty asparagus. In the marsh areas on the coast, on the
other hand, cattle breeding dominates.
In addition to cereals, rapeseed, sugar beets, lettuce (especially iceberg lettuce), cabbage, carrots (carrots) and, thanks to the sandy soil, asparagus are grown in parts of the country. The Lower Saxon kale culture is also well-known (in south-eastern regions also the lignite variant). In addition to vegetable growing and animal husbandry, fruit growing (especially in the north, Altes Land) is an important branch of the economy.
Accordingly, the groundwater is contaminated with pesticides. In 2015, 13 groundwater bodies across the country were in “poor chemical status”.
In addition, agribusiness is of great importance in Lower Saxony as an economic stage upstream and downstream of agriculture.
The industrial center of Lower Saxony is located in the
Hanover-Brunswick-Wolfsburg area with several automobile plants -
including the main plant in Wolfsburg of Volkswagen AG, the plants in
Braunschweig and Salzgitter and the commercial vehicle plant in Hanover.
Added to this is the steel industry based in Peine and Salzgitter. In
mechanical and plant engineering, the areas of agricultural engineering,
wind energy plants, biogas plants and offshore supplies are also of
Furthermore, Lower Saxony is Germany's leader in the mining and recycling of raw materials such as peat, sand and gravel.
The processing of agricultural products and food production is also one of the major branches of industry in Lower Saxony.
In addition to tourism, fish processing is in the foreground on the
North Sea coast, while the importance of shipbuilding has declined
sharply since the shipyard crisis.
The nine Lower Saxony seaports of Brake, Cuxhaven, Emden, Leer, Nordenham, Oldenburg, Papenburg, Stade and Wilhelmshaven are organized as Seaports of Lower Saxony. In 2014, 46.4 million tons of goods were handled through these ports. The handling of new vehicles in the seaports of Lower Saxony was 1,702,706 vehicles in 2014 (2013: 1,597,945). The port of Emden in particular also acts as a shipping port for the VW vehicles built in the plant there (1.25 million cars in 2011), but new vehicles are also handled in Cuxhaven. Oldenburg is an important port location for the handling of agricultural goods. The business with offshore wind turbines is also of growing importance for the seaports of Lower Saxony. Due to the expected growth in the volume of goods traffic, the seaports of Lower Saxony will be further expanded. Investments of around 60 million euros were planned for 2012/2013.
The Meyer shipyard in Papenburg is particularly important in shipbuilding in Lower Saxony.
The Bundeswehr will continue to be an important employer in Lower
Saxony in the future. With more than 55,000 soldiers and civilian
employees, Lower Saxony will probably be the state with the largest
number of Bundeswehr employees even after the planned reduction in the
size of the Bundeswehr, although severe cuts are also to be feared for
At 284 km², the Bergen military training area in the southern part of the Lüneburg Heath is the largest military training area in Europe. It was set up by the German Wehrmacht in 1935 and taken over by the British occupying forces after the end of the Second World War in 1945 and continuously expanded. The area has also been used by the Bundeswehr and NATO forces since the 1960s.
Large parts of the German Navy are stationed in Wilhelmshaven at the Heppenser Groden naval base. Today, Wilhelmshaven is the largest location for the German Navy and the second largest location for the German Armed Forces. After the implementation of the new Bundeswehr stationing concept in 2011, Wilhelmshaven will in future be by far the largest Bundeswehr location.
The Air Force is represented at the Diepholz, Wittmundhafen and Wunstorf air bases. In addition, the army aviators operate the Bückeburg, Celle and Faßberg airfields and the naval aviators operate the Nordholz air base.
A nuclear power plant is in operation in Lower Saxony: This is the
Emsland nuclear power plant, which will produce electricity until the
end of 2022.[obsolete] The Grohnde nuclear power plant was shut down at
the end of 2021. The Stade nuclear power plant was shut down in 2003.
Another nuclear power plant, the Unterweser nuclear power plant, was
shut down in 2011 as a result of the nuclear moratorium introduced after
the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
There are also several conventional coal and gas power plants, such as the Mehrum power plant or the Emsland natural gas power plant. The city of Wilhelmshaven is the location of two coal-fired power plants (operators: E.ON and GDF Suez).
Lower Saxony has the largest natural gas deposits in Germany. Lower Saxony accounts for 95% of German natural gas production and 40% of German oil production. In 2011, the country had the highest electricity production from biogas (4190 million kilowatt hours) in a national comparison. In some disciplines of the transport sector, the country is progressive in national comparison: 84 bioethanol filling stations (1st place) and 33 vegetable oil filling stations (3rd place) supply vehicles with climate-friendly fuels.
Lower Saxony also holds a leading position in the use of wind energy. Several wind turbine manufacturers have production facilities in Lower Saxony, e.g. B. Enercon with locations in Aurich, Emden and Haren as well as GE Wind Energy in Salzbergen. As of June 2016, there were 5783 wind turbines with a total output of 8957 MW, a good fifth of all German turbines, in the country. Further wind turbines are also being planned or built; There are also several offshore wind farms off the coast of Lower Saxony in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (AWZ). Within the 12 nautical mile zone and thus in Lower Saxony, the Nordergrund offshore wind farm has existed since 2017 (see also: List of offshore wind farms).
In 2010, wind turbines fed around 9,200 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity into the grid. There was also growth in heat generation from solar thermal energy: it rose from 382 million kWh in 2008 to 532 million kWh in 2011. Last but not least, Lower Saxony continues to invest in the further development of renewable energy technologies. In 2010, most of the money went into research, at 15.1 million euros.
The insurance industry traditionally occupies an important position among the sectors in Lower Saxony. This is i.a. due to Hanover's importance as an important insurance location with over 12,500 employees. From a regional perspective, seven of the eleven company headquarters are located in the state capital of Hanover, which also houses the top 5 companies. These include Talanx including Hannover Re, the VHV Group, VGH Versicherungen, Swiss Life Germany (Group headquarters in Zurich) and Concordia Insurance.
The trade fairs of Deutsche Messe AG, which take place in Hanover, are an important economic factor. Individual trade fairs are the largest of their kind in the world. The most important trade fairs include Hannover Messe, IAA Commercial Vehicles, Infa, Agritechnica, Interschutz and IdeasExpo. Around the second millennium, CeBIT was the most important trade fair in Germany alongside the Hanover Fair and a well-regarded one worldwide.
In Lower Saxony, there has been advertising-financed private broadcasting since 1984 in addition to public broadcasting financed by fees. The Lower Saxony State Media Authority is responsible for the development and promotion of private broadcasting. It licenses private radio and television broadcasters and oversees their programming. Further tasks are the supervision with regard to compliance with the protection of minors by the private providers of telemedia in Lower Saxony and the promotion of citizens' broadcasting.
Public radio is operated by Norddeutscher Rundfunk, which broadcasts
a state-specific program for Lower Saxony with the state wave NDR 1
Radio Niedersachsen. The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) maintains a state
broadcasting center for radio and television in the state capital of
Hanover, in which the regional program for Lower Saxony is designed. In
addition, the NDR is represented in several cities in Lower Saxony with
regional studios and correspondents' offices. There are regional studios
in Braunschweig, Göttingen, Lüneburg, Oldenburg and Osnabrück;
Correspondence offices in Lingen/Emsland, Otterndorf/Niederelbe,
Esens/Ostfriesland, Vechta, Verden, Hamelin/Weserbergland and
With radio ffn, Antenne Niedersachsen and Radio 21 there are three private radio chains broadcasting nationwide. In addition, 15 non-commercial, non-profit organizers of citizen broadcasting ensure diversity in the respective local regions. The operators include ten community radio stations, two community television broadcasters and three broadcasters that offer radio and television programs. Since January 1, 2011, local and regional advertising-financed radio stations can also be licensed with the new version of the Lower Saxony Media Act. The first authorized local stations were Radio Hannover, teutoRADIO Osnabrück, Radio38, BWReins and Radio Nienburg.
NDR Fernsehen is the regional public television program of
Norddeutscher Rundfunk, which is produced together with Radio Bremen for
the states of Lower Saxony, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and
Schleswig-Holstein. As the state program responsible for Lower Saxony,
Hallo Niedersachsen broadcasts a half-hour regional magazine every day
at 7:30 p.m. In addition, Monday to Friday at 6:00 p.m., a 15-minute
short edition with Lower Saxony 6:00 p.m
As private television broadcasters, RTL Nord and Sat.1 Norddeutschland broadcast state-specific regional programs such as Guten Abend RTL and 17:30 SAT.1 REGIONAL – the magazine for Lower Saxony and Bremen. With the new version of the Lower Saxony Media Act, local and regional advertising-financed television stations have also been permitted since January 1, 2011. Friesische Rundfunk, regiotv, heimatLIVE, Hannover TV, os1.tv, ev1.tv and fan24.tv made the start.
Around 50 regional daily newspapers are published in Lower Saxony, but they are not of great national importance. The largest newspapers are the Hannoversche Allgemeine, the Braunschweiger Zeitung, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, the Nordwest-Zeitung and the Syke district newspaper. A special feature is the Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine, whose distribution area is transnational and covers the area of northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony.
According to the distribution of the population, a main focus of the road network is in south-eastern Lower Saxony with the centers of Hanover, Braunschweig, Hildesheim and Salzgitter. The motorways from the Ruhr area to Berlin and from southern Germany to the coast intersect in this area. These are the A 2 and A 7/A 27 autobahns and the A 36/A 39, which are intended to open up eastern Lower Saxony. Other important autobahns run from the Ruhr area via Osnabrück and Bremen to Hamburg (A 1 (Hansa line)), from the Ruhr area to Emden (A 31/Emslandautobahn) and from Amsterdam via Osnabrück to Hanover (A 30 and A 2).
The most important rail transport hub is the state capital Hanover.
The most important railway lines run from southern Germany via Göttingen
and Hanover to Hamburg, from the Ruhr area/Amsterdam via Hanover and
Braunschweig or Wolfsburg to Berlin and from the Ruhr area via Münster,
Osnabrück and Bremen to Hamburg. The Hanover–Bremen line and the Emsland
line are also important. Various route variants are currently being
discussed, which should connect the seaports to the hinterland for
freight traffic. The Hanover-Hamburg and Hanover-Bremen connections are
also planned to be upgraded, for example by building the Y route or
expanding the connection from Verden (Aller) via Rotenburg (Wümme) to
Hamburg while at the same time expanding the Hanover-Verden railway line
(Aller )–Bremen could take place.
The Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen mbH (LNVG) is responsible for local rail transport in Lower Saxony. It is a 100% subsidiary of the state of Lower Saxony and is based in Hanover. It was founded in March 1996.
The largest seaports in Lower Saxony are in Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven,
Nordenham, Emden and Brake. In 2017, 53.4 million tons of goods were
handled in the seaports of Lower Saxony. The most important inland
waterways are the Mittelland Canal, the Weser, the Elbe, the Elbe
Lateral Canal and the Ems.
In the north of Wilhelmshaven is the JadeWeserPort, a deep-water port for large container ships. The newly flushed container port was one of the largest infrastructure projects in northern Germany in recent decades. The port was built with financial support from the states of Bremen and Lower Saxony and officially opened on September 21, 2012. The two federal states and the container terminal operator Eurogate have invested around one billion euros.
The most important air hubs for the state are Hanover-Langenhagen Airport (HAJ) and the airports in Bremen (BRE), Hamburg (HAM) and Münster/Osnabrück (FMO) outside of Lower Saxony.
Due to its history, Lower Saxony has several traditional historical
libraries. Three libraries are of particular importance as state
libraries and have become internationally sought-after research
institutions due to their rich old holdings of unique manuscripts and
early prints. The three state libraries are the Herzog August Library in
Wolfenbüttel, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library – Lower Saxony State
Library in Hanover and the Oldenburg State Library in Oldenburg.
The Herzog August Library has made an international name for itself as a research and study center for the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Since 1989, the Gospels of the Guelph Duke Heinrich the Lion, written between 1174 and 1189, have been kept in the library. It is considered one of the most expensive books in the world.
The Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library houses the estate of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who headed the library as prefect from 1676 to 1716. The correspondence preserved in his estate includes around 15,000 letters with 1,100 different correspondents. The exchange of letters was declared a UNESCO World Document Heritage (Memory of the World) in autumn 2007.
The technical information library in Hanover is one of the world's largest special libraries for technology and natural sciences and one of three central specialist libraries in Germany.
In terms of culture, the state shows great regional differentiation
and shows smooth transitions, especially to Westphalia. After the Second
World War, Lower Saxony also became a new home for many refugees and
expellees from eastern Germany, who mostly settled in the cities, but
often also in the smallest villages, and have helped shape them ever
since. On October 3, 1950, the state of Lower Saxony, in which a
particularly large number of Silesians had settled after the expulsion,
took over the patronage of the Landsmannschaft Schlesien. The many
military facilities, industrial plants and scientific institutions in
Lower Saxony and in the neighboring city-states also led to the
immigration of people from other regions of Germany. In addition, there
are many immigrants who came to the country as so-called guest workers
and new citizens from the countries of the former Eastern bloc. It is
becoming apparent that there will continue to be migration movements
towards Lower Saxony, for example by refugees who will find a new home
here. Due to this heterogeneity of the population, Lower Saxony has no
population that can be referred to as the Lower Saxony in an
ethnic-cultural sense. The people of Lower Saxony are therefore most
commonly referred to as simply those who have their place of residence,
their homeland or adopted home in the state of Lower Saxony.
The average life expectancy in the period 2015/17 was 78.0 years for men and 82.8 years for women. Men thus rank 8th among the German federal states, while women rank 12th. Regionally, in 2013/15 Vechta (expectation of the total population: 81.75 years), Harburg (81.51) and Ammerland (81.28) had the highest, as well as Wilhelmshaven (78.99), Helmstedt (78.94) and Emden ( 78.07) the lowest life expectancy.
With 1.62 children per woman in 2017, Lower Saxony had the third highest combined fertility rate among the German states.
The parts of the population that were already resident in the former
states of Braunschweig, Hanover, Oldenburg and Schaumburg-Lippe before
the founding of the state of Lower Saxony have many things in common
both among themselves and with neighboring regions in north and
north-western Germany, such as the use of the original local dialects of
Low German, which is usually colloquially known as called Low German.
Commonalities also exist in certain aspects of the prevailing
traditional architecture and construction (brick construction) of
buildings (Niedersachsenhaus). The larger part of the country is
traditionally Evangelical-Lutheran, but some parts of the country are
also Roman Catholic. In addition, there were Jewish communities that had
existed for centuries, were spread across the entire country and whose
members often helped shape the respective places. Today, Jewish
communities only exist in the larger cities. The parishioners have often
immigrated from Eastern Europe.
The Frisians, who are recognized as a national minority in Germany, live in the north-west of the country. They differ, among other things, in the language, since the dialects of Low German spoken here have a high Frisian reference. The Federal Ministry of the Interior specifies the East Friesland area as the settlement area for the minority. The Frisians include the Sater Frisians, who represent a language minority with the Sater Frisian language.
Minorities of Sinti and Roma have lived in Lower Saxony, some of which have been there for centuries. The first evidence comes from the year 1407 in Hildesheim.
After the Second World War, Lower Saxony was one of the main
settlement areas for people expellees from Silesia, East Prussia,
Pomerania, the Neumark and other former German eastern regions, German
Bohemians who had been expelled from Czechoslovakia and Germans from
other areas such as Bessarabia (in descending order of number of
people). According to the last census broken down accordingly at the end
of the 1960s, 30% of the inhabitants of Lower Saxony were refugees,
expellees or children from such families. In addition, from the 1960s
there were ethnic German resettlers from Transylvania, from the 1970s
from Upper Silesia and other regions of Poland, Vietnamese and from the
1980s Russian-German resettlers and late resettlers with their
foreign-speaking family members.
In addition, there was a high demand for workers during the economic miracle in the 1950s, especially due to the many industrial companies in the Hanover-Brunswick-Salzgitter-Wolfsburg area, but also in the metropolitan areas of Bremen and Hamburg, which extend to Lower Saxony , Spain, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and Portugal, who often stayed in Lower Saxony. In addition, refugees live in Lower Saxony, since 2015 in large numbers from Syria in particular, but also from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other African countries.
Since the founding of the state of Lower Saxony, the region has also been a destination for internal migration within the Federal Republic of Germany, in particular due to many commercial companies.
Official language is German. The minority language Sater Frisian and the regional language Low German are specially protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and are permitted for official use.
Today, standard German is primarily spoken in Lower Saxony. Up until the 19th century, it only played a role in Lower Saxony as a written language. In the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, the process of replacing the previous languages spoken in Lower Saxony with standard German took place. This development was also accelerated by the integration of refugees and expellees from the East Central German dialect area - for example from Silesia - after the Second World War. For a long time, alongside the “pure” standard German, there was a language form that was characterized by a strong Low German substrate; this language form is known in its extreme form as Missingsch. Today, however, this “intermediate form” is even more threatened than Low German.
In addition to standard German, Saterland Frisian is still alive, while the language that dominated until a few decades ago, Lower Saxon, is threatened in most regions; Ostfriesland is the most prominent example of a region where this has not been the case so far. On the other hand, East Westphalian Low German is particularly threatened and is probably already extinct in some regions, certainly in the larger cities.
The East Westphalian pronunciation of standard German is still often mistakenly confused with the modern pronunciation of standard German in other regions of the German-speaking world. This misunderstanding is probably due to the fact that standard German prevailed very early on in the East Westphalian dialect area and pushed out the local dialects. As a result, the standard German language was subsequently considered the "dialect of Hanover", particularly by speakers of southern German dialects.
Standard German has been used as the written language in Lower Saxony since the 16th century and Dutch in western East Frisia and in the county of Bentheim, and only Standard German since the beginning of the 20th century. The most common languages spoken by immigrant groups are Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Albanian, Romani and Greek, as well as Russian and Polish. In addition, due to the deployment of troops within the framework of NATO, English is used as a first language in some families, but is also widely spoken as the most important foreign language.
Before standard German prevailed, it was primarily Low German dialects that were spoken in Lower Saxony. These dialects are known today as Low German. The individual local dialects of Lower Saxony are called Platt by their speakers, as are many dialects in central Germany. The Low German dialects in Lower Saxony can be assigned to four dialect groups: East Low German in Wendland, East Westphalian in the southeast, Westphalian in Osnabrück and in the southern district of Osnabrück, and North Low Saxon in the rest of the country. The East Frisian Platt deserves special mention because of its Frisian substrate and is less threatened with extinction than other Low German dialects.
Other traditional languages and dialects
In addition to Low German, there were other language varieties in what is now Lower Saxony. The varied East Frisian language was at home in the Frisian-populated coastal area from the Dutch border to the Land of Wursten, of which only Sater Frisian still exists in the municipality of Saterland. In addition, some long-established population groups also speak dialects based on Central German, which belong to the East Central German subgroup. Due to the immigration of miners to the Upper Harz in the Middle Ages, dialects influenced by the Erzgebirge were spoken there. The Benrather line runs along the southern edge of the Harz mountains in the Bad Lauterberg/Bad Sachsa area. North Thuringian, which belongs to the Thuringian-Upper Saxon dialect group, is used here. From the 18th century there was also a small Palatine-speaking group in Veltenhof, a district of Braunschweig since 1931. The Slavic Polabian survived in Wendland until the 18th century. The Sinti and Roma living in Lower Saxony speak Romani.
The number of Protestant and Catholic Christians in Lower Saxony is
falling continuously. On average, their number fell by 0.72 percentage
points per year between 2001 and 2018. In 2022, this figure fell by 1.5
According to the 2011 census, 48.6% of the residents were Protestant, 17.4% Roman Catholic and 34.0% were non-denominational, belonged to another religious community or made no statement. The number of Protestants and Catholics has since fallen. At the end of 2021, the Evangelical Church had a share of 40.0% of the population, the Catholic Church 15.9% and 44.1% of the population did not profess to either of these two faith communities.
In 2015, around 400,000 people of Muslim faith lived in Lower Saxony, which corresponded to 5% of the population.
The 2011 census last recorded exact figures for other religious communities in Lower Saxony: At that time, 1.3% of the population belonged to a Protestant free church, 0.9% to a Christian Orthodox church, 0.1% to a Jewish community and 2.2% to other public groups -legal religious communities (this includes, for example, Old Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses).
After the Reformation, a large part of Lower Saxony was shaped by the Evangelical Lutheran churches. Lutheran regional churches exist as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hanover, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Schaumburg-Lippe, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Braunschweig and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg. In addition to the Lutheran regional churches, there is the old-denominational independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has one of its main areas of distribution in Lower Saxony.
The west of East Friesland and the county of Bentheim are traditionally Protestant and Reformed. They are the center of the Evangelical Reformed Church in north-west Germany; this has its own regional church organization, while in most of the rest of Germany the Reformed and Lutheran churches have been linked in a church union since the 19th century. In the same region there are also evangelical old reformed churches.
Since 1971, the Protestant regional churches have been united in the Confederation of Protestant Churches in Lower Saxony.
In addition to the Protestant state churches, many evangelical free churches are also active in the area of Lower Saxony. The oldest among them is the Mennonite Church. Its roots go back to the time of the Reformation and here to the Anabaptist movement. The Federation of Evangelical Free Churches (Baptist and Moravian Churches) has three regional associations in Lower Saxony: the Lower Saxony-East Westphalia-Saxony-Anhalt regional association, Baptists in the Northwest and the Northern Germany regional association. Other free churches in Lower Saxony include the United Methodist Church, the Free Church of the Seventh-day Adventists and the Federation of Free Evangelical Churches.
The Emsland, the Oldenburger Münsterland, the town of Twistringen, the Untereichsfeld, the so-called monastery villages of the Bishopric of Hildesheim and large parts of the Osnabrück region are traditionally Catholic.
The Catholic communities belong to the diocese of Hildesheim and Osnabrück, both suffragan bishoprics of the Archdiocese of Hamburg, and to the diocese of Münster, suffragan bishopric of the Archdiocese of Cologne. The Catholic community in the town of Bad Pyrmont belongs to the Archdiocese of Paderborn. Due to the settlement of displaced persons after the Second World War - especially Catholics from Upper Silesia, Warmia and German Bohemia and German Moravia in formerly purely Protestant regions - and due to the influx of late resettlers, congregations of the other major Christian denominations now exist in what used to be almost purely denominational embossed regions. The only significant saint in Lower Saxony is Jordan of Saxony.
Hanover is the seat of a deanery of the Old Catholic Church. The area of this northern deanery includes Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.
From the 1960s, Islamic communities were formed, especially for residents of Turkish origin. Most mosque communities belong to DİTİB or IGMG. There are other communities, including Shia communities and mosque associations of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The Alevis also form a larger denominational minority in Lower Saxony with numerous local congregations, which have also formed from residents with roots in Turkey. The Alevi local communities are united in the Alevi community of Germany (Turkish: Almanya Alevi Birlikleri Federasyonu, abbr.: AABF). Since the 2011/2012 school year, the AABF has been the official provider of Alevi religious education in Lower Saxony.
A number of historical synagogues that still exist bear witness to Jewish life in Lower Saxony before the Shoah. After the Second World War, a few Jewish communities re-established. The Jewish community has seen increased growth since 1990 due to the immigration of many Jews from the former Soviet Union. The largest Jewish community in Lower Saxony is the Jewish community Hannover K. d. ö. R. with about 4500 members.
The Jewish communities are organized in the more traditional state association of the Jewish communities of Lower Saxony and in the liberal state association of the Israelite religious communities of Lower Saxony. Both state organizations are members of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
Other faith and belief communities
Around 40,000 Yazidis live in Lower Saxony, who often form larger communities here. The largest Yazidi community in Lower Saxony is in Celle. It is also the largest municipality in Germany. Other important communities are located in Bad Zwischenahn, Hanover and Oldenburg. In 2007, the Central Council of the Yazidis in Germany was founded in Oldenburg, which has set itself the goal of "promoting and maintaining religious and cultural tasks of the Yazidi communities" and "representing the common political interests of the Yazidi community".
The New Apostolic Christians living in Lower Saxony are cared for by four apostle areas, i. H. from Bremen, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and a separate small area of Lower Saxony.
There are around 13,000 active Jehovah's Witnesses in Lower Saxony, forming 187 congregations. So-called Kingdom Halls, as the church buildings of Jehovah's Witnesses are called, are located in 124 congregations.
Humanists are organized, among other things, in the Humanist Association of Germany. The Lower Saxony association is based in Hanover. It comprises two district and 17 local associations, and there has been a state treaty with the state since 1970.
Lower Saxony cuisine consists of a variety of regional, North German
cuisines, which are very similar to a large extent, e.g. B. the
Oldenburg, Brunswick or the East Frisian. It is usually very hearty. A
popular and typical vegetable in winter is kale, which is eaten in
particular as part of traditional kale meals. Equally well known and
typical is the East Frisian tea culture in East Friesland.
In addition to the diverse regional cuisine, there are several restaurants in Lower Saxony that belong to the top gastronomy in Germany. In its 2012 edition, the Michelin gastronomy guide awarded 14 Lower Saxony restaurants its well-known stars, two of which received the highest award of three stars. The three-star restaurants are Thomas Bühner's La Vie in Osnabrück (now closed) and Sven Elverfeld's Aqua in Wolfsburg. The Sterneck in Cuxhaven and Keilings Restaurant in Bad Bentheim are two-star restaurants in Lower Saxony. The restaurants Apicus in Bad Zwischenahn, Perior in Leer, Seesteg auf Norderney, Marco Polo in Wilhelmshaven, Schlosshotel Münchhausen in Aerzen, Ole Deele in Burgwedel, Endtenfang in Celle, Zum Heidkrug in Lüneburg, La Forge in Bad Nenndorf and La Fontaine in Wolfsburg each received a Michelin star.
In Lower Saxony, the nine national public holidays are New Year, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Labor Day, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, German Unity Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and since 2017 Reformation Day has also been a public holiday.
The state festival of the state of Lower Saxony is Lower Saxony Day, a three-day cultural festival that has been hosted annually by another Lower Saxony city since 1981. The TdN is intended to show the cultural diversity of the state of Lower Saxony and is organized by the city and the program advisory board of the Day of Lower Saxony. The Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sport and various regional associations are represented on the program advisory board.
Some events with the highest number of visitors in Lower Saxony take place in the state capital Hanover. The biggest event in Hanover is the Maschsee Lake Festival in August, which attracted around 2.3 million visitors in three weeks in 2012. The Schützenfest Hannover on the Schützenplatz is considered the largest rifle festival in the world. The ten-day event is attended by up to 1.5 million guests every July. The Hanover Spring Festival and the Hanover Oktoberfest are also held on Schützenplatz. Both folk festivals are organized by the "Working Group for Folk Festivals in Hanover". The spring festival attracts up to a million visitors. The Oktoberfest in Hanover is the largest Oktoberfest in Germany after the Oktoberfest in Munich. The 17-day event has up to 900,000 visitors.
In Oldenburg, the traditional Oldenburg Kramermarkt is held annually in autumn. The ten-day event has up to 1.5 million visitors. In the district town of Vechta, one of the oldest fairs in Germany takes place with the Stoppelmarkt. With up to 800,000 visitors, the six-day festival is one of the largest folk festivals in Lower Saxony. The Gallimarkt in Leer has been around since 1508. With up to 500,000 visitors, it is the largest folk festival in East Friesland. Another folk festival with tradition is the Roonkarker Mart in the Wesermarsch, which was officially held in 2012 as the 879th Roonkarker Mart. In the North Sea town of Wilhelmshaven, the previous record number of 385,000 visitors was celebrated at the Jade weekend in 1999. Other folk festivals include the Brokser marriage market, the Osnabrück May Week and numerous Christmas markets.
The Federal Garden Show took place in Hanover in 1951, which is now
regarded as the first Federal Garden Show in Germany. It was the first
and to this day the only federal garden show in Lower Saxony.
At the beginning of 2000, the state followed the example of other federal states and conceived its own state garden show. The first Lower Saxony State Horticultural Show took place in Bad Zwischenahn (Park of Gardens) in 2002. In 2004 the city of Wolfsburg took over the organization of the state garden show, followed by the city of Winsen in 2006, the municipality of Bad Essen in 2010 and the city of Papenburg in 2014.
The last state garden show to date was organized by the city of Bad Iburg in 2018.
Lower Saxony has produced important artists of international standing
since the 19th century. The most popular is probably Wilhelm Busch, who
became known for his picture stories. Less known is his work as a
landscape painter. He created more than 1000 paintings that were only
In 1884 Fritz Mackensen visited Worpswede during the summer semester and in 1889, together with his fellow student Otto Modersohn and other artists, laid the foundation for the Worpswede artists' colony. In 1894 the artist Heinrich Vogeler bought the Barkenhoff in Worpswede. This was home to well-known artists of German Impressionism and Expressionism. The best-known artists of the first generation of the colony were Fritz Mackensen, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Otto Modersohn, Fritz Overbeck, Heinrich Vogeler, Clara Westhoff, Hans am Ende, Richard Oelze and Rainer Maria Rilke.
In addition to the artists' colony in Worpswede, there were other places in Lower Saxony that attracted artists. From 1900 onwards artists such as Georg Müller vom Siel, August Kaufhold and Otto Pankok lived and worked in Dötlingen an der Hunte, a small town in the Wildeshauser Geest. From 1907 to 1912, painters from the artist group Die Brücke regularly spent the summer months in Dangast, a coastal town on the southern Jade Bay. Karl Schmidt-Rottluff was accompanied by Erich Heckel in 1907 and 1908, and in June 1910 Max Pechstein followed his fellow painters. Numerous works by these expressionist artists show Dangaster motifs.
The Hanoverian painter and poet Kurt Schwitters worked in Lower Saxony between the 1920s and 1930s. He is the inventor of Merzkunst, which is considered a further development of Dadaism. Schwitters did not describe himself as a Dadaist, but as a Merz artist, but at times worked closely with the Berlin Dadaists. His most famous poems are An Anna Blume and the Sonata in Urlauten. Classified as “degenerate” by the National Socialists, the artist fled in 1937 and never returned to his hometown. A reconstruction of his famous Merzbau can be seen in the Sprengel Museum in Hanover.
The Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum (1904-1944) also achieved great fame. As a painter of the New Objectivity, he belonged to the "lost generation" of those born around 1900. Many of his works deal with the Holocaust, to which he himself fell victim in 1944.
The painter, draftsman, graphic artist and sculptor Kurt Sohns (1907-1990) also achieved considerable fame.
The Neo-Dadaist, performance and conceptual artist Timm Ulrichs, born in 1940, achieved international fame. Among other things, he was represented at documenta 6 in 1977. In 2001 he received the Lower Saxony State Prize.
Lower Saxony has two art colleges: the Braunschweig University of Art and the Hanover University of Music and Drama. In addition, the Ottersberg University of Applied Sciences offers courses in “Social Art. Art Therapy", "Theatre in the Social Environment" and "Free Fine Arts".
The coastal area between the Ems, Weser and Elbe has a unique organ
culture with historical organs dating back more than 500 years. From the
time before 1700 alone, more than 300 registers have been preserved. In
the organ landscape of East Friesland, instruments have largely been
preserved in their original form since the late Gothic period, such as
the organ in Rysum from 1457, which is one of the oldest organs in the
world. The works of Arp Schnitger, the perfector of the north German
baroque organ, are of particular importance. His instruments were
style-defining and influenced organ building all over the world. Some of
the best-preserved Schnitger organs can be found in the organ landscape
between the Elbe and Weser. The organ landscapes of southern Lower
Saxony, Braunschweig, Lüneburg and Oldenburg also developed into
distinctive cultural landscapes. When it comes to the restoration of old
instruments, Jürgen Ahrend Orgelbau from Leer-Loga has set standards.
The musical culture of Lower Saxony is made accessible to the public through concert series, festivals, academies and music centers. The Göttingen International Handel Festival is the oldest music festival for early music in the world, and the Hitzacker Summer Music Festival is the oldest German chamber music festival. The Lower Saxony State Music Academy, founded in 2009, is the home of the Lower Saxony Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Lower Saxony State Youth Choir. Hanover is the seat of the NDR Radio Philharmonic.
The theater landscape in Lower Saxony consists of three state
theatres, the state theater in Wilhelmshaven, five municipal and around
90 independent theaters as well as other amateur theatres, open-air and
Low German theatres.
The Lower Saxony State Theater in Hanover, the Oldenburg State Theater in Oldenburg and the State Theater in Braunschweig are financed with state funds. The Staatstheater Hannover GmbH is a 100 percent state subsidiary, the Oldenburg State Theater receives three quarters and the State Theater Braunschweig two thirds with state funds.
Municipal theaters are the Schloßtheater Celle in Celle, the Deutsches Theater in Göttingen, the Theater für Niedersachsen based in Hildesheim, which merged from the Stadttheater Hildesheim and the Landesbühne Hannover, the Theater Lüneburg in Lüneburg, the Municipal Theaters in Osnabrück, the Landesbühne Niedersachsen Nord in Wilhelmshaven and the Wolfsburg Theater in Wolfsburg. You receive state grants.
With the State Association of Independent Theaters in Lower Saxony e. V., an interest group for professional independent theaters in Lower Saxony was founded in 1991, which is regularly funded by the state of Lower Saxony.
The novel Nothing New in the West (1929) established the worldwide fame of Erich Maria Remarque, who was born on June 22, 1898 in Osnabrück. In his works he dealt critically with German history and is one of the most widely read German authors of the 20th century. He died in Locarno on September 25, 1970. Remarque never got over his bitterness about his expatriation from Germany.
From 1900 to 1902, the important Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke lived in the Worpswede artist colony, where he married the sculptor Clara Westhoff, with whom he had a daughter in 1901. The expressionist author then went to Paris. Next to Rilke, the most important modernist writer from Lower Saxony is Arno Schmidt. The avant-garde writer lived in Bargfeld from 1958 until his death in 1979. In addition to experimental novels such as his main work Zettel's Traum, Schmidt also wrote translations, for example by James Joyce, Edgar Allan Poe or James Fenimore Cooper.
Rolf Dieter Brinkmann, who was born in Vechta in 1940 and died in a car accident in London in 1975, is considered one of the most important German poets of the 1970s. His works are influenced by the Nouveau Roman and the American Beat generation, whose publication in Germany he deserves credit for.
Walter Kempowski lived in Nartum, district of Rotenburg (Wümme) from 1965 until his death in 2007. He was best known for his strongly autobiographical novels in the Deutsche Chronik and for his project Das Echolot, in which he published diaries, letters and other everyday testimonies of various origin into collage-like paintings of the times.
There are literature offices (also literature houses) of the state of Lower Saxony in Braunschweig, Göttingen, Hanover, Lüneburg, Oldenburg and Osnabrück.
There are around 650 different museums and local history rooms in
Lower Saxony that collect and exhibit cultural and historical
testimonies and art from all eras. Over 50% of these museums were
established after 1965. The oldest museum was the art and natural
history cabinet in Braunschweig, opened by Duke Carl I in 1754, which is
a forerunner of the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum and the State Natural
The state runs three state museums with six museums in Hanover, Braunschweig and Oldenburg as state institutions. In Braunschweig, these are the Braunschweig State Museum, the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum and the State Natural History Museum. In Oldenburg it consists of the State Museum for Art and Cultural History and the State Museum for Nature and Man. The Lower Saxony State Museum in Hanover is located in Hanover.
Most of the museums in Lower Saxony are sponsored by municipalities, districts or private associations. Many of them are run on a voluntary basis, some are institutionally funded by the state of Lower Saxony. Over 50% of the museums belong to the category of local history museums and local history rooms.
The Museum Association for Lower Saxony and Bremen represents the interests of the museums. It advises and supports its members with the aim of preserving and communicating the natural and cultural heritage in the museums. In doing so, it takes on the task of informing the members and promoting the exchange of experience and the further training of the museums in terms of museum technology and science.
The Renaissance era, which is reflected in many buildings in the style of the Weser Renaissance, was significant in terms of architectural history in Lower Saxony. Another sight is the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover, including the Great Garden, one of the most important European baroque gardens.
In Osnabrück there are many buildings from the classicism and the rococo period. Sights are the old town with the cathedral and the town hall of the Peace of Westphalia, numerous stone works such as the Ledenhof and half-timbered houses. Lower Saxony's largest baroque palace, Osnabrück Palace, and St. Katharinen, the tallest medieval late-Gothic building, can also be seen here.
The double complex of Iburg Castle and Benedictine Abbey in Bad Iburg is of architectural and art-historical importance. In the knight's hall, the work by Andrea Alovisii is the only surviving ceiling painting north of the Alps in perspectival pseudo-architecture.
More than 60 memorials and historical initiatives in Lower Saxony commemorate the victims of National Socialism. Among the memorials are historical sites such as concentration camps, prisoner of war and labor camps, prisons, synagogues and places of deportation. Historical initiatives to commemorate the Nazi crimes support this culture of remembrance with the help of various activities such as commemorative and cultural events as well as permanent and traveling exhibitions. In 1990, Lower Saxony was the first German state to commit to supporting regional memorials for the victims of National Socialism with regular funding from state funds. In 2004, the state parliament passed the law on the foundation of memorial sites in Lower Saxony. Since then, the foundation under public law, based in Celle, has carried out various tasks to promote memorial site work on behalf of the state. Among other things, she is responsible for the Bergen-Belsen and Wolfenbüttel memorials maintained by the state. Other examples of foundations for Lower Saxony memorial sites are the Esterwegen Memorial Foundation and the Sandbostel Camp Foundation.
In January 2000, the non-governmental memorial sites and history initiatives formed the interest group of Lower Saxony memorial sites and initiatives to commemorate the Nazi crimes. V. merged. The interest group advises its members on funding opportunities, coordinates research projects, events and traveling exhibitions, and organizes various seminars on the main topics of memorial work.
As a World Heritage Site in Germany, there are four UNESCO World
Heritage Sites in Lower Saxony. These include the two-part heritage site
of the St. Mariae Cathedral and the Michaeliskirche in Hildesheim. The
three-part heritage site in the western Harz consists of the Rammelsberg
mine, the old town of Goslar and the Upper Harz water shelf with the
Samson pit and the Walkenried monastery. The most recent World Heritage
Site was the Fagus Factory in Alfeld in 2011. The Lower Saxony Wadden
Sea is a natural world heritage site. In the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Library - Lower Saxony State Library is the correspondence of Leibniz,
which has been part of the World Document Heritage of UNESCO since 2007.
In the Lower Saxony State and University Library in Göttingen, the
42-line Gutenberg Bible printed on parchment is part of the world
In 2012, the state of Lower Saxony nominated the Altes Land cultural landscape and the Rundlingsdörfer in the Hanoverian Wendland for the German list of proposals for future UNESCO World Heritage applications (tentative list), for which each German state may submit two proposals. The Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture announced the two candidates on June 18, 2012 after a selection process that began in 2011. In 2013, the Conference of Ministers of Education will decide which of the Länder's applications will be placed on the German list of proposals (tentative list), from which UNESCO will not select new World Heritage sites until 2017 at the earliest. The city of Lüneburg submitted further applications at the state level for its old town and the Naturschutzpark (VNP) association for the Lüneburg Heath. The ministry recommended that both institutions submit serial applications, in the case of Lüneburg together with comparable "salt places" and in the case of the VNP together with other "agro-pastoral" places. The application by the city of Wunstorf to nominate the Sigwardskirche in Idensen as an important small Romanesque sacred building was not considered for tactical reasons.
After the dissolution of the administrative districts, contracts were concluded between the state of Lower Saxony on the one hand and the landscapes and landscape associations on the other hand, according to which they will be responsible for cultural issues in the respective regions in the future.
The Landessportbund Niedersachsen is the umbrella organization of
around 9,600 Lower Saxony sports clubs with around 2.7 million
memberships. Around 57% of the members are male. The number of members
under the age of 18 is 33.1%. In this age group, too, more boys than
girls are active in sports clubs.
The state sports federation is divided into 48 regional sports federations, which are based on the districts or urban districts. The Lower Saxony Sports Youth is the youth organization of the State Sports Association.
The clubs have also organized themselves into regional professional associations. The state association with the most members is the Lower Saxony Gymnastics Association with 776,122 members, followed by the Lower Saxony Football Association with 632,939 and the Lower Saxony/Northwest German Shooting Association with 209,569 members. The Lower Saxony Equestrian Association followed with 129,420 members and the Lower Saxony Tennis Association with 128,184. Handball, table tennis, athletics, swimming, DLRG and disabled sports occupy the other places.
The largest sports clubs are Hannover 96 with 20,385 members, ASC 1846 Göttingen with 9,596, Osnabrücker Sportclub/MTV 1849 with 7,767, Todtglüsinger SV v. 1930 with 7,517 and Eintracht Hildesheim with 7,007 members.
In organizational terms, the sports institutions and clubs in Lower Saxony are closely linked to those in the state of Bremen.
In 1980, Lower Saxony was the first German state to specifically address its sporting history. In close connection with the Georg-August University of Göttingen, a support group for sports history in Hoya, chaired by Wilhelm Henze and headed by the Wiss. Advisory Board of Arnd Krüger the Lower Saxony Institute for Sports History e. V. founded. Here, both the traditional sports games such as Boßeln and Klootshooting were researched and the historical-political background of the history of sports in Northern Germany was worked out. There is also a gallery of honor with important people from Lower Saxony's sport.
In the 2022/23 season, football club VfL Wolfsburg is the only club
from Lower Saxony to be represented in the Bundesliga. The clubs
Hannover 96 and Eintracht Braunschweig play in the 2nd Bundesliga. In
the 3rd division, VfL Osnabrück, VfB Oldenburg and SV Meppen meet. SV
Werder Bremen are also popular in the Bremen area and Hamburger SV and
FC St. Pauli in the Hamburg area.
Clubs from Lower Saxony in the 2022/23 Regionalliga Nord are TSV Havelse, SV Atlas Delmenhorst, Hannover 96 II, VfV 06 Hildesheim, SSV Jeddeloh, SV Drochtersen/Assel, BSV Rehden, Kickers Emden and Blau-Weiss Lohne.
The Lower Saxony Football Association also organizes the Lower Saxony Oberliga football league as the highest state-wide league and the Lower Saxony Cup, the winner of which qualifies for the DFB Cup.
In the 2022/23 season in women's football, VfL Wolfsburg and SV Meppen are playing top notch. The second team of VfL Wolfsburg also plays in the 2nd women's Bundesliga.
Lower Saxony is home to a handball club in the 1st Bundesliga, TSV Hannover-Burgdorf. The HSG Nordhorn-Lingen plays in the second handball league. Three clubs from Lower Saxony play in the 3rd division group B (as of the 2021/22 season).
VfL Oldenburg (EHFChallenge Cup winner 2008, German cup winner 2009 and 2012) and Buxtehuder SV are at home in the women's 1st national handball league.
Lower Saxony is in the first basketball Bundesliga thanks to EWE Baskets Oldenburg (German Champion 2009, Champions Cup winner 2009, cup winner 2015), BG Göttingen and Basketball Löwen Braunschweig.
The Artland Dragons from Quakenbrück and the SC Rasta Vechta play in the second-class ProA.
The Grizzlies Wolfsburg play in the highest German ice hockey
division, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). The former DEL team, the
Hannover Scorpions (German champions of the 2009/10 season; now based in
Langenhagen), as well as the Hannover Indians and the Harzer Falken from
Braunlage also play in the Oberliga.
See also: Ice hockey in Hanover
Water sports are just as popular as fishing on the coast as well as on the large lakes and rivers. Due to its location, Cuxhaven is a traditional sailing site; it was also the port of call for the Tall Ships' Races.
The German Winter Swimming Championships 2006 were held in Hanover.
Thanks to the teams in the Hanover region, Lower Saxony has been a water polo stronghold for decades. Wasserfreunde 98 Hannover was German champion eight times between 1921 and 1948 and provided four players for the 1928 Olympics. Both traditional clubs merged in 2012 to form the new major club Waspo 98 Hannover, which was the first club in Lower Saxony to play in the Champions League in 2012/2013. In addition to the two clubs, Eintracht Braunschweig, Hellas 1899 Hildesheim, Freie Schimmer Hannover, WSV 21 Wolfenbüttel and SpVg Laatzen also played temporarily in the water polo Bundesliga. Most recently, in 2012, the new club White Sharks Hannover was promoted to the first division.
The Verden (Aller) area, the Vechta area, the Osnabrücker Land (here in particular Hagen a. T. W. and Ankum), the Oldenburg Land, the Celler Land and southern Lower Saxony are known as centers of equestrian sport. In addition, the breeding and keeping of Hanoverians and other horses are an economic and leisure factor in many areas, so that Lower Saxony is considered horse country.
The 2011 European Eventing Championships were held in Luhmühlen, the center of eventing in Lower Saxony. The Lingen International Dressage Festival was held in Lingen (Ems) from 1999 to 2013. The annual international horse show Horses & Dreams takes place in Hagen am Teutoburg Forest.
In American football, the New York Lions (until 2010 Braunschweig Lions) have played in the German Football League without interruption since the 1994 season and are the German record champions with twelve German Bowl victories. The Hildesheim Invaders have also been playing in the top German league since 2016.
The Dohren Wild Farmers baseball club from Dohren (Nordheide) plays in the German Baseball League. In the 2nd Baseball Bundesliga North-Northeast Braunschweig are represented by the Spot Up 89ers, the Hanover Regents and the Dohren Wild Farmers 2.
Hanover is a stronghold of German rugby sports. TSV Victoria Linden is the record champion with 20 championship titles, eight of them in the Rugby Bundesliga, which has existed since 1971. From 1909 to 2005 - with the exception of 1913 - a Hanoverian club played in every final of the German championship. Hannover 78, SC Germania List and the VfR Döhren/SV Odin syndicate play in the 1st Bundesliga, while the clubs TSV Victoria Linden, Deutscher Rugby Club Hannover and the second team of Hannover 78 play in the 2nd Bundesliga.
With the All Sports Team Hanover, Hanover is home to a top team in dragon boat sports. Since it was founded in 2000, the team has won more than 100 medals at national and international championships, including ten German championship titles in 2012 alone. It also formed the core of the German Premier Mixed national team for several years. The team is affiliated with the Hanoverian Canoe Club (HKC) from 1921 and trains on the Maschsee. The All Sports Team was voted "Team of the Year 2013" in Lower Saxony, ahead of the Bundesliga handball team from Burgdorf and the women's soccer champion league winner VfL Wolfsburg.
Lower Saxony is ideal for hiking and cycling. In addition,
traditional sports are still practiced in some places. In East
Friesland, Emsland and Ammerland, for example, Boßeln and Klootshooting
are popular. Kloatscheeten is also practiced in Emsland and in the
county of Bentheim.
In the Harz there are many opportunities for practicing various winter sports. The Ossiloop takes place annually in East Friesland. The Lower Saxony Tour took place annually between 1977 and 2007. Since 1968, the Osnabrück Hill Climb, the only hill climb in Lower Saxony, has been held in Borgloh near Osnabrück every year.
In the municipality of Halbemond (collective municipality of Hage in the district of Aurich, East Friesland) is the Motodrom Halbemond, where motorcycle speedway races are held. The stadium holds 34,000 spectators in 30,000 standing and 4,000 seats. It is the second largest stadium in Lower Saxony after the HDI Arena in Hanover and the largest pure speedway stadium in Europe. In 1983, Egon Müller from Kiel became Speedway World Champion here.
In Scheeßel there is a dirt track for motorcycle races, the so-called Eichenring. Mainly national and international dirt track races have been held here since the 1960s, for example finals of the sand track European Championships, long track world championships and German championships.
In the 1980s and 1990s, races of the German Touring Car Championship were held on temporary racetracks at the Diepholz and Wunstorf air bases.