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Oranienburg is a large district city and medium-sized center on the Oberhavel with around 45,000 inhabitants and is located a few kilometers north of the Berlin city limits. Oranienburg is located in the south of the Oberhavel district in the area where it merges with Berlin and belongs to the natural area of the Zehdenick-Spandau Havel lowlands. The city center of Berlin is about 35 kilometers away. Oranienburg lies on the Havel and the Oder-Havel Canal.

Neighboring communities
Immediate neighboring communities are (clockwise from the north): Löwenberger Land, Liebenwalde, Wandlitz (Barnim district), Mühlenbecker Land, Birkenwerder, Hohen Neuendorf, Velten, Leegebruch, Oberkrämer and Kremmen.



From the beginning to the Thirty Years War
Archaeological finds show that the city emerged from a Slavic settlement, which was probably called Bochzowe. The German settlement of today's urban area took place in the course of the second eastward expansion in the 12th century while maintaining the old Slavic name. At the point where Oranienburg Castle is today, a castle was built at the beginning of the 13th century to protect the area and the important river crossings. In 1216 the place was first mentioned as “Bothzowe” when the Brandenburg Bishop Siegfried II confirmed his archdeaconate rights to the Brandenburg Cathedral Chapter when he assumed office. In 1232 "Bochzowe" was granted city rights. The townspeople caught fish and traded fish and agricultural products. In 1483 the official seat of Bötzow was created from “Bochzowe”. With the conquest of areas further east of the city, the castle lost its importance, and a two-story hunting lodge was built in its place by the Brandenburg Elector Joachim II. During the Thirty Years War Bötzow was burned down and looted.

Reconstruction and expansion of the city
In 1650, the Elector of Brandenburg, Friedrich Wilhelm, gave the Bötzow domain to his wife Louise Henriette of Orange. In 1652 a Dutch-style castle was built in Bötzow, which was named Oranienburg. In 1663, Louise Henriette set up the first European porcelain cabinet here. The castle name was also transferred to the city. The old name Bötzow was given again in 1694 to the nearby place, which had been named Cotzebant until then. A sister of Louise Henriette, the namesake of the city of Oranienburg, was Henriette Catharina von Oranien. She married Johann Georg II von Anhalt-Dessau and from 1683 had today's Oranienbaum Castle built, from which the town of Oranienbaum in today's Saxony-Anhalt developed. With the support of Dutch experts and religious refugees (Huguenots, Salzburgers, Jews), the Electress had model farms built in and around Oranienburg based on the Dutch model. It created an essential prerequisite for the rapid development of Brandenburg-Prussia. From the marriage of the Great Elector with Louise Henriette, Elector Friedrich III. who had the castle embellished and expanded in memory of his beloved mother. In 1701 he founded the Kingdom of Prussia as Friedrich I. After the castle had to be sacrificed to the austerity constraints of the “soldier king” Friedrich Wilhelm I, Prince August Wilhelm, a brother of the childless Frederick the Great and father of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm II, once again brought courtly splendor to Oranienburg. In his hikes through the Mark Brandenburg, Theodor Fontane reports in detail and vividly on the eventful history of Oranienburg.

In 1802 the castle was sold to the pharmacist Johann Gottfried Hempel with the obligation to build a cotton weaving mill. The war against France brought cotton production to a standstill in 1807. In 1814 a sulfuric acid factory was built in the castle, which was the first in Prussia to use the lead chamber process. In 1833 Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge discovered aniline and carbolic acid in coal tar, in 1835 the first stearin candles were made in the factory, and in 1840 the first paraffin candles. In 1848 the production facility was relocated from the castle to the mill field. In the castle, which was renovated after a fire, a Protestant teachers' seminar was opened in 1861, which was operated until 1926.

On July 10, 1877, Oranienburg received a train station for the newly opened Berlin Northern Railway Berlin – Stralsund. On May 28, 1883, 18 Berlin vegetarians founded the first vegetarian settlement in Germany in the western part of the city: the "Vegetarian Fruit Growing Colony Eden GmbH", in which the money reformer Silvio Gesell lived for many years and finally died. The construction of the Oder-Havel Canal from 1906 to 1912 revitalized economic life in the city. In 1912 the company Heintze & Blanckertz set up the first factory for steel springs. The resulting cold rolling mill in Oranienburg, which employed up to 7,000 people, was bought up by Krupp after 1989 and closed. The most modern plant at the time was sold to China.

Time of the nationalsocialism

On March 21, 1933, the SA set up the Oranienburg concentration camp as the first concentration camp in Prussia in an old brewery for the imprisonment of opponents of the National Socialist regime from Brandenburg and the Reich capital Berlin. More than 3,000 prisoners were detained there until July 1934, at least 16 of them died. In July 1936, the SS built the first large concentration camp complex with the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on the boundaries of the city of Oranienburg and the independent community of Sachsenhausen on a wooded area of ​​initially 80 hectares. During the war, the camp was expanded to a size of approx. 400 hectares. Close to the main camp, on the Hohenzollern Canal, was the Oranienburg clinker works subcamp, where the prisoners had to produce or work on bricks and natural stones for the conversion of Berlin to the capital Germania.

Oranienburg was badly damaged by aerial bombs during the war. This is due to the war-important works in the city. On the one hand there was the Auerwerke, which stretched on the site of today's housing estate on Lindenring and at the train station as far as the Havel, and the Heinkel-Werke, of which only the redeveloped white city and parts of the works airfield in the south of the city still exist . The explosive force of the bombs that destroyed the Auerwerke production facilities resulted in the release and distribution of the radioactive material processed there. Since then, Oranienburg has been the most radioactive place in Germany.

German Democratic Republic
The grounds of the former Heinkel AG, the associated company airfield and parts of the former White City factory settlement were occupied by the Red Army and used by the Soviet Armed Forces group in Germany until they withdrew in 1994.

In August 1945 the Soviet special camp No. 7 von Weesow was relocated to part of the site of the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp. There the Soviet occupying power interned mainly members and functionaries of the Nazi movement and the Nazi state, including many members of criminal organizations of the “Third Reich”, on the basis of Allied decisions on automatic arrest. Increasingly, the Soviet secret service also locked people who had been convicted by Soviet military tribunals in an area on the same site that was specially separated from the “internees”. Above all, there were also people who, for political or other reasons, had actually or supposedly rebelled against the Soviet occupation regime. Of the total of 60,000 prisoners, including women, young people and even children, 12,000 died by 1950, the year the camp was closed, due to hunger and epidemics as well as from the consequences of catastrophic prison conditions.

On April 23, 1952, Oranienburg became the district town of the newly formed district of the same name in the GDR district of Potsdam. Sachsenhausen has been part of the city of Oranienburg since April 1, 1974.

Various military units, associations and institutions were stationed in Oranienburg during the Cold War. At the end of the 1980s, for example, the Motorized Rifle Regiment 1 "Hans Beimler" of the National People's Army of the GDR and the border training regiment 40 "Hans Coppi" of the border troops of the GDR as well as the 239th Independent Helicopter Regiment of the Soviet Western Group of Troops.

Since the reunification
With the district reform of 1993, Oranienburg became the district town of the new Oberhavel district, in which the Oranienburg and Gransee districts were incorporated. In June 1994 the units and associations of the former Soviet and now Russian western group of troops withdrew from Oranienburg.

In the course of the collapse of the GDR and the reunification of Germany, many companies were closed and many jobs were lost. However, a number of companies could also be restructured and continued and new businesses settled. Residential areas were newly built and fundamentally renovated, streets, footpaths and cycle paths were newly laid out. A mixture of old and new residential and commercial buildings characterizes the historically grown cityscape. So were z. B. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the houses in the White City were renovated, and a quiet residential area was created.

On October 26, 2003 Friedrichsthal, Germendorf, Lehnitz, Malz, Schmachtenhagen, Wensickendorf and Zehlendorf were incorporated. On September 23, 2008 the city received the title Place of Diversity awarded by the federal government.


In 2007 there were plans to build a Chinatown in Oranienburg. Under this name they also included activities and possible residents with other Asian backgrounds. However, these plans were abandoned in 2008 for economic reasons and because the distance to the center of Berlin was felt to be too great.

In 2009, Oranienburg hosted the fourth Brandenburg State Horticultural Show under the title Dream Landscapes of an Electress. It ran from April 25 to October 18, 2009. The main preparation project was the redesign of the military wasteland behind the palace into a park and thus the restoration of the palace gardens. For this purpose u. a. a new castle harbor and a Havel promenade created. In addition, the routing of the main road was changed and the bridge route used until 1901 was restored with a newly built castle bridge. This is how the palace square regained its central importance for the city. At the same time, a previously missing third axis was created with the construction of Nehringstrasse between the palace and the district office, thus taking into account the baroque city layout. The city of Oranienburg bought numerous ruins and properties in order to remedy the urban grievances. As a result of these measures, the historical center of Oranienburg was significantly redesigned and sustainably upgraded. In addition to the city administration, the renovated palace now houses a museum of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg and the regional museum of the Oberhavel district.

The Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum have been extensively renovated and modernized by the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation since 1993. With over 700,000 visitors annually, it is now the third largest concentration camp memorial after Auschwitz and Dachau. The history of the Oranienburg and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as well as the history of the Soviet special camp and the GDR national memorial site are presented in 13 permanent exhibitions, almost all of which are in original buildings, with numerous original artefacts, documents and help different media illustrated. An educational department offers projects, guided tours and an audio guide, and the archive and library are also accessible to visitors. If interested, visitors can deepen their knowledge in numerous publications issued by the memorial, including various interactive media.

In connection with the state horticultural show, a block of flats, the so-called sound barrier, was torn down on Berliner Strasse. A small park was created there to further improve the quality of stay in the medium-sized town. In terms of content and design, the park refers to the first German radio play on radio. It dealt with the rescue of participants in Umberto Nobile's failed North Pole expedition with the airship Italia and was written by Friedrich Wolf, who spent the last years of his life in the Oranienburg district of Lehnitz.

Because of the extraordinarily intense bombing of Oranienburg in World War II, several duds - more than half of them with chemical long-term detonators - have to be recovered every year. In 2012, around 300 explosive bombs with LZZ were still suspected in the soil of the inhabited urban area. After more than 70 years in the ground, self-detonations are becoming more and more likely due to the aging processes of the trigger mechanism. The federal government has so far rejected the requests from the state of Brandenburg for financial support to clear the explosive bombs. Although Oranienburg is the only city in Germany that systematically searches for duds, according to the current state of financing, Oranienburg soil will not be cleared of duds until around 2070.