10 largest cities in Germany
Frankfurt am Main




The Hanseatic city of Wismar is located on the Baltic Sea coast of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania at the southern end of the Wismar Bay, which is protected by the island of Poel. It is the sixth largest city and the largest of the 18 medium-sized centers in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In addition, Wismar is the district town of the district of Northwest Mecklenburg.

Wismar was a member of the Hanseatic League early on and flourished in the late Middle Ages, which can still be seen in the cityscape today through many Gothic monuments. After the Thirty Years War, Wismar came under Swedish rule, which lasted until 1803 (de jure 1903), in 1648, as the annual Sweden Festival commemorates. After that the city belonged to Mecklenburg-Schwerin. During the Second World War, the city was hit by several bomb attacks, which particularly affected the Gothic Quarter with the main churches St. Marien and St. Georgen as well as the old school. In 2002 the old towns of Wismar and Stralsund were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as Historic Old Towns of Stralsund and Wismar.

Mainly due to its cultural and historical importance with a valuable cityscape and thanks to its location on the Baltic Sea, Wismar is a popular tourist destination, increasingly also for cruises. The industrial port and shipping industry, for example with MV Werften, various mechanical engineering companies, wood processing and the solar industry are also economically important. Since it was founded in 1881, Wismar has also been home to the Karstadt department store chain.



Wismar used to be a. Wismaria, Visemêr, Wismar (1147, 1167), Wyssemaria (1229) or Wismaria (1237) called. The origin of the city name is not clear, it should be derived from the name of the stream east of the city, the aqua Wisemaraa.

The presumed settlement of Alt Wismar (document from 1167) may later have been incorporated into the new city.

Since 1990, the city has had the addition of the Hanseatic city again.

City foundation
The region around Wismar is a settlement area that is thousands of years old. After the Germanic peoples withdrew during the migration, Wendish or Slavic Obodrites lived here until the end of the 12th century.

The city's foundation, estimated in 1226, probably goes back to Prince Heinrich Borwin I. The people who settled here came - according to their family names - from Holstein, Westphalia, Lower Saxony and the Mark Brandenburg. The city of Wismar was first mentioned in a document in 1229. Shortly afterwards, the town charter in Wismar was introduced and confirmed in 1266. The individual settlements around St. Marien and St. Nikolai grew together until 1238. With the influx of settlers from 1250 the new town around St. Georgen was added. In Wismar there were monasteries of the mendicant orders of the Franciscans (since 1251/1252, “Gray Monastery”) and Dominicans (since 1292/1293, “Black Monastery”). Prince Johann I von Mecklenburg moved his residence from Mecklenburg Castle to the Weberkamp in front of the city in 1257, and Wismar remained the royal seat of the dukes until 1358. The first big fire in the city took place in 1267 and the reconstruction was carried out with many brick houses. In 1276, the first phase of settlement ended with the construction of a city wall enclosing all quarters, the course of which still defines the boundaries of the old town, and Wismar had reached its extent that was valid until the 18th century.

Hanseatic period
Wismar became an important member of the Hanseatic League in the Middle Ages. Wismar's Hanseatic era began when envoys from Lübeck and Rostock met in Wismar on September 6, 1259 to conclude a protection treaty against the increasing piracy. In 1280 Wismar formed the Wendish League of Cities on Hansische Ostseestrasse together with Stralsund, Rostock, Lübeck and Hamburg. The Peace of Rostock, which followed in 1283, stabilized cooperation between the Hanseatic cities.

After an uprising against Henrich II of Mecklenburg in 1310, Wismar had to submit to the Duke in 1311. In 1350 around 2000 people died of the Black Death. In the armed conflicts between the Hanseatic League and Denmark, Wismar took part with the towns of the Wendish quarter. After the Peace of Stralsund, Emperor Karl IV visited the city in 1375.

At the beginning of the 15th century, the craft offices under their leader Claus Jesup revolted and set up a new council, which however could not hold up against the patriciate and long-distance traders. The unrest escalated again in 1427 after the defeat of the Hanseatic fleet, and in Wismar the fleet leader and the mayor Johann Bantzkow were executed on the execution block on the market square.

Since the effective collection of taxes for state purposes, the revenue of which came primarily from the commercial turnover of city merchants and from the wages of free city dwellers, required the cooperation of the city tax authorities, the introduction or change of each individual tax was subject to the approval of the state estates, including Wismar , on their diets. Their emergence goes back to the beginning of the 14th century, when the knighthood, the totality of the vassals in Mecklenburg, who gathered irregularly since the 13th century, called in representatives of the cities that formed the landscape. Since the unification of Mecklenburg under Heinrich IV. In 1471, the estates of the three partial lords of Mecklenburg (Mecklenburgischer Kreis), Wenden (Wendischer Kreis) and Stargard (Stargardscher Kreis) increasingly gathered in joint state parliaments, before they formed a union in 1523 around the imminent renewed one to counteract the dynastic division of the country by Albrecht VII.

The Reformation started in Wismar from the Franciscans. The monk of the gray monastery Heinrich Never adopted the new Lutheran teaching early on. The Gray Monastery became a school around 1540 and then a Latin school.

The canal construction of the Viechelner Fahrt, today called Wallensteingraben, was put into operation in 1594 as a waterway to Schweriner See and the Elbe, but fell into disrepair shortly afterwards.


Sweden time
During the Thirty Years War, Wismar was occupied by imperial troops in 1627. Sweden conquered the city in 1632, and Wismar was given the Swedish krona as a German imperial fiefdom in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 after the Thirty Years' War. From 1653 the city was the seat of the upper tribunal.

During the Skåne War, Wismar was conquered by the Danes in 1675 and remained under Danish occupation until November 1680; then Wismar came back to Sweden and was developed into one of the strongest sea fortresses under the Swedish government.

In 1711 the Danes defeated the Swedes in front of the city in the battle near Lübow. The city fortifications could not be conquered, but were razed after the Swedish defeat in the Northern War, after the besieged Wismar was taken by Prussian-Danish troops in the Pomeranian campaign of 1715/1716 in 1716.

Swedish rule over Wismar ended de facto in 1803 when Sweden pledged the city to the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin for 99 years with the Malmö pledge agreement. Formally, Wismar reverted to Germany in 1903 and Sweden waived the redemption of the pledge. Wismar therefore celebrates the Sweden Festival every year.

From 1803 to 1933
From 1806 Napoleonic troops occupied Mecklenburg and Wismar, in 1813 they withdrew again.

Economically weakened by the times of Sweden and occupation, the buildings fell into disrepair; Shipping, brewery and trade all experienced a decline. The Wismar town hall from 1350 collapsed in 1807; The new building was built in 1819. The import duty remained in place until 1864 when Mecklenburg joined the North German Confederation.

The construction of the linden garden began in 1815. In 1816 the first Mecklenburg music festival took place in Wismar with the performance of the Joseph Haydn oratorio The Creation in St. Nikolai. From this the second oldest music association in Germany, founded in 1818, developed. In 1821 the Hammersche Badeschiff was inaugurated in Wendorf. This attraction was in operation until 1850. In 1825 the city's “savings institution” started operations in the town hall. In 1831 the Wismar cemetery was built in front of the Mecklenburg Gate south of the old town [14]. As part of the city wall, it was demolished in 1869 when the city was being demolished. In 1842 the theater opened on Mecklenburger Strasse. The theater burned down in 1948.

The Hanseatic city applied in 1827 to be taken back into the landscape from which Wismar had left under the Swedish regiment, but initially did not succeed. The first paved road to Schwerin was built in 1834, the one to Brüel in 1844. This was followed in 1846 by the roads to Kröpelin and in 1847 to Lübeck.

In 1862 the first warehouse was built in the port and in 1888 the new grand ducal customs office. The old port from around 1775 could be supplemented by the new port by 1893 and from 1909 by the wooden port and the west port. In 1927 the sea border slaughterhouse was built. The new storage facilities, the Löwe storage facility from 1935, the high Ohlerich storage facility from 1938 and the Kruse storage facility from 1940, were intended to stimulate grain transport, but handling stagnated. The sea border slaughterhouse damaged in the war had to be dismantled in 1951. The Swedish heads in the harbor entrance were damaged in 1902, came into the museum and were put up again as copies in the same place in 1903.

In 1830 riots broke out in Wismar when the July Revolution took place. Wismar received a new constitution and the demonstrations were broken up through military intervention.

In 1842 a lithographic institution was established by the pharmacist Friedrich Ferdinand Carl Wüstney; she produced the famous Wismar playing cards. In 1845, the pharmacist Carl Friedrich Framm opened the Neue Apotheke (now the Hirsch Pharmacy).

In 1847 the paddle steamer Obotrit went to Stockholm. In 1848 there was a regular ferry service to Copenhagen for a while.

In 1855, compulsory schooling was also introduced in Wismar through the Mecklenburg law.

The municipal and voluntary fire brigade in Wismar began operations in 1859. Wismar has been a garrison town since 1820. In 1851 a new military hospital was completed in front of the Altwismartor (today the headquarters of the Wismar police station). The first quarter houses (barracks) were built in 1881 and 1882.

A railway committee was founded in 1836, but it was not until 1848 that Wismar was connected to the railway network with the railway line to Schwerin and, in 1857, its station. The railway line to Rostock was built in 1883 and to Karow in 1887.

In 1881 Rudolph Karstadt opened his first cloth shop in Wismar. In 1908 he built his first department store in Wismar and thus laid the foundation for today's Karstadt department store chain.

From 1869 to 1904 the city wall, defense towers and city gates were torn down. Remnants of the wall, a defense tower and the water gate have been preserved. In 1888 the post office got its building, which is still in use today.


Wismar had expelled his Jewish flatmates from the city in 1350. In 1867, Wismar decided that Jews would have unhindered access and immigration to the city.

In 1870 Heinrich Podeus opened the Wismar coal trading company and in 1879 bought the iron foundry and machine works Crull & Co. from 1853, which in 1895 had two hundred employees. In 1884 a sawmill and planing mill were added and a steam shipping company, which in 1905 owned ten screw steamers. In 1893 Podeus founded a railway research institute, which operated as a wagon factory from 1894 (1911 public limited company). The Wismar Canal Construction Association, founded in 1892 on the initiative of Podeus, wanted to complete the incomplete canal from Lake Schwerin to the Baltic Sea. In 1902 the Podeus’sche machine factory was established, other plants were expanded. Up to 1,600 employees worked in the Podeus companies. The companies had to be liquidated in the global economic crisis.

The sugar factory dates from 1889, the slaughterhouse from 1888. With effect from July 1, 1897, Wismar was added to the landscape again, but as a seaside town, like Rostock, it did not belong to any of the three districts in which the other towns with rural districts belong called Landstädte, was divided and, like these, was represented with a seat and vote in the Landtag until 1918. In 1897 the first pipeline for the water supply and a waterworks with a water tower came, which remained in operation until 1929.

1933 to 1945
In 1933 the district of Wismar was established; the city of Wismar remained independent.

After the National Socialists came to power, political opponents and Jews were persecuted. The popular Jewish doctor Leopold Liebenthal died three weeks after the November pogrom 1938. The memorial book of the Federal Archives for the victims of the Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany (1933–1945) lists four Jewish residents of Wismar who were deported and mostly murdered in the Holocaust.

During the Second World War, prisoners of war as well as women and men from the occupied countries had to do military forced labor, including in the railcar and wagon factory and the Dornier aircraft works. 36 victims of forced labor are buried in the Wismar cemetery on Schweriner Strasse. In 1933, the Dornier works from Friedrichshafen initially took over parts of the former Podeus works. In 1934 the construction of the production halls began. In 1936, 1908 people worked at Dornier in Wismar, in 1937 there were 3,000 and in 1944 finally 4,437. These Dornier factories were expropriated after the Second World War (today Schottel GmbH, which manufactures ship propulsion systems, is located here).

The Hamburg architect Konstanty Gutschow developed the development plan for the “Seestadt Wismar” in 1936/1937. In 1939 he created the "Southeast" development plan.

During the war there were twelve air raids, in which 460 tons of bombs were dropped. Some historical buildings were badly damaged or destroyed like the Georgenkirche, the Marienkirche and the surrounding Gothic quarter. Wismar's occupation began on May 2, 1945 by British and Canadian troops.

1945 until today
In July 1945 the Red Army entered Wismar. The GDR government had the ruins of the nave of the Marienkirche blown up in 1960. From 1949 to 1990 in particular, many memorial sites were built to commemorate injustices suffered and atrocities committed (see list in the main article History of the Hanseatic City of Wismar # From 1945 to the present day).

In 1961 the city and the evangelical church signed a contract on the spiritual uplift. After that, the church ceded property in and outside Wismar to a trust property of the city. The church buildings initially remained in the property of the church until 1987. The city undertook to carry out extensive construction work on the churches, but did not meet its obligations. In 2008 the church buildings were assigned to the city by the Federal Office for Central Services and Unresolved Property Issues. In 2010 the city established a city church foundation in Wismar.

Wismar, after 1945 the second port of the GDR, specialized in the handling of bulk goods. The shipbuilding industry goes back to the establishment of a ship repair company of the Red Army. Wismar's harbor is now home to one of the largest European timber clusters in Europe. With the new shipbuilding hall, the shipyard is one of the most modern of its kind.


Since German reunification in 1990, Wismar's historic city center has been thoroughly renovated as part of the urban development funding. Since 2002, Wismar's old town, together with Stralsund, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the name Historic Old Towns Stralsund and Wismar. Wismar founded the German World Heritage Foundation together with Stralsund. In 2002, the city hosted the first state horticultural show in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

With the district reform of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2011, Wismar became part and the district administrative seat of the district of Northwest Mecklenburg.

On July 1, 1950, the previously independent communities Redentin Dorf and Wendorf bei Wismar were incorporated.

Population development
In 1989 the population of the city of Wismar reached its historical high of over 58,000. It has declined significantly since the fall of the Wall in the GDR.

The following overview shows the population figures according to the respective territorial status. Up until 1833 it was mostly an estimate, then census results (1) or official updates from the statistical offices and the city administration itself. The inhabitants were predominantly Protestant. In 1905 there were 400 Catholics and 32 Jews among the 21,902 inhabitants.



The city is located on the southern tip of the Wismar Bay of the same name on the Baltic Sea. This is where the Köppernitz stream and the artificially created city pit, fed from the mill pond, flow into the harbor basin to the Baltic Sea. The canal expansion, begun in 1577 by the ducal court builder Tilemann Stella, flows east of the old town into the Baltic Sea. It was initially called the Viechelnsche Fahrt, only from the 19th century onwards the name Wallensteingraben became established. The canal had to overcome a height difference of 38 meters and proved to be uneconomical and silted up as a result. Nevertheless, canal plans exist to this day, most recently in 2008 through a feasibility study, which the district administration of the district of Northwest Mecklenburg wanted to commission. But the necessary funds to build and maintain the controversial waterway to the Baltic Sea were missing. In the urban area there are several smaller and two larger stagnant bodies of water, the Mühlenteich and the Viereggenhöfer pond.

City structure
Wismar is divided into eight districts, each of which is divided into district areas:
Altstadt with the district area Altstadt
Wismar Nord with the district areas Fischkaten, Redentin, Müggenburg, Eiserne Hand, Schwanzenbusch, Haffeld Süd and Haffeld Nord
Wismar Ost with the district areas Wismar Ost and Kagenmarkt
Dargetzow with the district areas Dargetzow, Kritzowburg and Groß Flöte
Wismar Süd with the district areas Wismar Süd, Kluß and Rothentor
Friedenshof with the district areas Friedenshof and Dammhusen
Wismar West with the district areas Burgwall, Weidendamm, Köpernitztal and Lübsche Burg
Wendorf with the district areas Wendorf, Hinter Wendorf, Hoben and Insel Walfisch

The annual precipitation is 599 mm and is therefore comparatively low as it falls in the lower quarter of the values ​​recorded in Germany. Lower values ​​are registered at 21% of the measuring stations of the German Weather Service. The driest month is February, the most precipitation falls in July, twice as much as in February. Precipitation varies little. Lower seasonal fluctuations are recorded at eleven percent of the measuring stations.