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Flensburg Harbour in 2012
|• Lord Mayor||Simone Lange (SPD)|
|• Total||56.38 km2 (21.77 sq mi)|
|Elevation||12 m (39 ft)|
|• Density||1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Flensburg (Danish: Flensborg, Low Saxon: Flensborg, North Frisian: Flansborj, South Jutlandic: Flensborre) is an independent town (kreisfreie Stadt) in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the centre of the region of Southern Schleswig. After Kiel and Lübeck it is the third largest town in Schleswig-Holstein.
In May 1945, Flensburg was the site of the last government of Nazi Germany, the so-called Flensburg government led by Karl Dönitz, which was in power from 1 May (The announcement of Hitler's death) for one week until German armies surrendered and the town was occupied by Allied troops. The regime was officially dissolved on 23 May.
In Germany, Flensburg is known for
Flensburg is situated in the north of the German state Schleswig-Holstein, on the German-Danish border. After Westerland on the island of Sylt it is Germany's northernmost town. Flensburg lies at the innermost tip of the Flensburg Fjord, an inlet of the Baltic Sea. Flensburg's eastern shore is part of the Angeln peninsula.
Clockwise from the northeast, beginning at the German side of the Flensburg Fjord, the following communities in Schleswig-Flensburg district and Denmark's Southern Denmark Region all border on Flensburg:
Glücksburg (Amt-free town), Wees (Amt Langballig), Maasbüll, Hürup, Tastrup and Freienwill (all in Amt Hürup), Jarplund-Weding, Handewitt (Amt Handewitt), Harrislee (Amt-free community) and Aabenraa Municipality on the Danish side of the Flensburg Fjord.
The town of Flensburg is divided into 13 communities, which themselves are further divided into 38 statistical areas. Constituent communities have a two-digit number and the statistical areas a three-digit number.
The communities with their statistical areas:
Flensburg was founded at the latest by 1200 at the innermost end of the Flensburg Fjord by Danish settlers which were soon joined by German merchants. In 1284, its town rights were confirmed and the town quickly rose to become one of the most important in the Duchy of Schleswig. Unlike Holstein, however, Schleswig did not belong to the German Holy Roman Empire. Therefore, Flensburg was not a member of the Hanseatic League, but it did maintain contacts with this important trading network.
Historians presume that there were several reasons for choosing this spot for settlement:
From time to time plagues such as bubonic plague, caused mainly by rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis, a parasite found on brown rats), "red" dysentery and other scourges killed a great deal of Flensburg's population. Lepers were strictly isolated, namely at the St.-Jürgen-Hospital (Helligåndshspital, built before 1290), which lay far outside the town's gates, where the St. Jürgen Church is nowadays. About 1500, syphilis also appeared. The church hospital "Zum Heiligen Geist" ("To the Holy Ghost") stood in Große Straße, now Flensburg's pedestrian precinct.
A Flensburger's everyday life was very hard, and the old roads and paths were bad. The main streets were neither paved nor lit at night. When they got really bad, the citizens had to make the dung-filled streets passable with wooden pathways. Only the few upper-class houses had windows. In 1485, a great fire struck Flensburg. Even storm tides beset the town at times. Every household in the town kept livestock in the house and the yard. Townsfolk furthermore had their own cowherds and a swineherd.
After the Hanse fell in the 16th century, Flensburg was said to be one of the most important trading towns in the Scandinavian area. Even as far away as the Merranean, Greenland and the Caribbean, Flensburg merchants were active. The most important commodities, after herring, were sugar and whale oil, the latter from whaling off Greenland. Only the Thirty Years' War put an end to this boom time as the town was becoming Protestant and thereby ever more German culturally and linguistically, while the neighbouring countryside remained decidedly Danish.
In the 18th century, thanks to the rum trade, Flensburg had yet another boom. Cane sugar was imported from the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands) and refined in Flensburg. Only in the 19th century, as a result of industrialization, was the town at last outdone by competition from nearby cities such as Copenhagen and Hamburg.
The rum blended in Flensburg then became a secondary industry in West Indian trade, and as of 1864 no longer with the Danish West Indies, but rather with Jamaica, then ruled by the British. It was imported from there, blended, and sold all over Europe. There is nowadays only one active rum distillery in Flensburg, "A. H. Johannsen".
Between 1460 and 1864, Flensburg was, after Copenhagen, the second biggest port in the Kingdom of Denmark, but it passed to the Kingdom of Prussia after the Second Schleswig War in 1864. The Battle of Flensburg was on February 6, 1864: near the city a small Hungarian mounted regiment chased a Danish infantry and Dragoon regiment. There is still a considerable Danish community in the town today. Some estimates put the percentage of Flensburgers who belong to it as high as 25%; other estimates put that percentage much lower. The SSW political party representing the minority usually gains 20-25% of the votes in local elections, but by no means are all of its voters Danes. Before 1864, more than 70% belonged to what is now the minority, witnessed even today by the great number of Danish surnames in the Flensburg telephone directory (Asmussen, Claussen, Jacobsen, Jensen, Petersen, etc.). The upper classes and the learned at that time, however, were German, and since 1864, the German language has prevailed in the town.
On 1 April 1889, Flensburg became an independent city (kreisfreie Stadt) within the Province of Schleswig-Holstein, and at the same time still kept its status as seat of the Flensburg district. In 1920, the League of Nations decided that the matter of the German-Danish border would be settled by a vote. As a result of the plebiscite, and the way the voting zones were laid out, some of Flensburg's northern neighbourhoods were ceded to Denmark, whereas Flensburg as a whole voted with a great majority to stay in Germany.
In return for this great pro-German majority, the town of Flensburg was given a large hall, the "Deutsches Haus", which was endowed by the government as "thanks for German loyalty".
During the Second World War, the town was left almost unscathed by the air raids that devastated other German cities. However, in 1943, 20 children died when their nursery school was bombed, and shortly after the war ended, an explosion at a local munitions storage site claimed many victims.
In 1945, Admiral Karl Dönitz, who was briefly President (Reichspräsident) of Nazi Germany once Adolf Hitler had appointed him his successor and then killed himself, fled to Flensburg with what was left of his government where they were taken prisoner by British troops and deposed in the Sportschool in Mürwik at the Navy School in Mürwik (German: Marineschule Mürwik). Flensburg was thereby, for a few weeks, the seat of the last Third Reich government.
After the Second World War, the town's population broke the 100,000 mark for a short time, thereby making Flensburg a city (Großstadt) under one traditional definition. The population later sank below that mark, however.
In the years after the Second World War, there was in South Schleswig, and particularly in Flensburg a strong pro-Danish movement connected with the idea of the "Eider Politics". Their goal was for the town, and indeed all or most of Schleswig – the whole area north of the river Eider–-to be united with Denmark. In the years following 1945, Flensburg's town council was dominated by Danish parties, and the town had a Danish mayor.
The town of Flensburg profited from the planned location of military installations. Since the German Reunification, the number of soldiers has dropped to about 8,000. Since Denmark's entry into the European Economic Community (now the European Union), border trade has played an important role in Flensburg's economic life. Some Danish businesses, such as Danfoss, have set up shop just south of the border for tax reasons.
In 1970, the Flensburg district was expanded to include the municipalities in the Amt of Medelby, formerly in the Südtondern district, and in 1974 it was united with the Schleswig district to form the district of Schleswig-Flensburg, whose district seat was the town of Schleswig. Flensburg thereby lost its function as a district seat, but it remained an independent (district-free) town.
Until the middle of the 19th century Flensburg's municipal area comprised a total area of 2 639 ha. Beginning in 1874, however, the following communities or rural areas (Gemarkungen) were annexed to the town of Flensburg:
|Year||Place(s)||Area added in ha|
|1874||Süder- and Norder-St. Jürgen||36|
|27 July 1875||Duburg||10.5|
|1877||Hohlwege and Bredeberg||5.5|
|1 December 1900||Jürgensgaarde||205|
|1 April 1909||Klues||19|
|1 April 1910||Twedt, Twedterholz/Fruerlund and Engelsby||1458|
|1916||part of Klues Forest (incl. open waters)||146.5|
|26 April 1970||Adelbylund||132|
|10 February 1971||demerger of Wassersleben Beach||-147.5|
|22 March 1974||Sünderup and Tarup||?|
Population figures are for respective municipal areas through time. Until 1870, figures are mostly estimates, and thereafter census results (¹) or official projections from either statistical offices or the town administration itself.
|1 December 1875 ¹||26,474|
|1 December 1890 ¹||36,894|
|1 December 1900 ¹||48,937|
|1 December 1910 ¹||60,922|
|16 June 1925 ¹||63,139|
|16 June 1933 ¹||66,580|
|17 May 1939 ¹||70,871|
|13 September 1950 ¹||102,832|
|6 June 1961 ¹||98,464|
|27 May 1970 ¹||95,400|
|30 June 1975||93,900|
|30 June 1980||88,200|
|30 June 1985||86,900|
|27 May 1987 ¹||86,554|
|30 June 1997||86,100|
|31 December 2003||85,300|
|31 December 2012||89,375|
¹ Census results
The Danish minority in Flensburg and the surrounding towns run their own schools, libraries and Lutheran churches from which the German majority is not excluded. The co-existence of these two groups is considered a sound and healthy symbiosis. There is a form of mixed Danish–German used on the ferries, Petuh.
In Denmark, Flensburg seems to be mainly associated with its so-called border-shops where, among other things, spirits, beer and candy can be purchased at cheaper prices than in Denmark. The prices are lower because the value-added tax is lower and excise taxes are either lower (e.g. on alcohol) or do not exist (on e.g. sugar). Currently the border shops are able to sell canned beer to persons resident in Scandinavia without paying deposits as long as the beverage is not consumed in Germany.
|Significant minority groups|
The town council was led for centuries by two mayors, one for the north town (St. Marien) and the other for the south town (St. Nikolai and St. Johannis). The council members and the mayors were chosen by the council itself, that is, retiring officials had their successors named by the remaining councillors in such a way that both halves of the town had as many members. These councillors usually bore the title "Senator".
This "town government" lasted until 1742 when the "northern mayor" was made the "directing mayor" by the Danish King. From this position came what was later known as the First Mayor. The second mayor simply bore the title "mayor" ("Bürgermeister"). After the town had been ceded to Prussia, the mayors were elected by the townsfolk as of 1870, and the First Mayor was given the title Oberbürgermeister, still the usual title in German towns and cities. During the Third Reich, the town head was appointed by those who held power locally at the time.
In 1945, after the Second World War, a twofold leadership based on a British model was introduced. Heading the town stood foremost the Oberbürgermeister, who was chosen by the town council and whose job was as chairman of council and the municipality. Next to him was an Oberstadtdirektor ("Higher Town Director") who was leader of administration. In 1950, when Schleswig-Holstein brought its new laws for municipalities into force, the title Oberbürgermeister was transferred (once again) to this latter official. At first, and for a while, he was chosen by the council. Since that time, the former official has been called the Stadtpräsident ("Town President"), and is likewise chosen by the council after each municipal election. However, since 1999, the Oberbürgermeister has been chosen directly by the voters as once before.
The first directly elected Oberbürgermeister Hermann Stell died on 4 May 2004 of a stroke. On 14 November of the same year, the independent candidate suggested by the CDU Klaus Tscheuschner was elected to replace Stell with 59% of the vote. In the municipal election in 2003, Hans Hermann Laturnus was elected Stadtpräsident.
In the municipal election of 2008, the local list WiF (Wir in Flensburg) was elected largest group in the Council Assembly of Flensburg, with its 10 city councillors out of 43, closely followed by the South Schleswig Voter Federation (Südschleswigscher Wählerverband) (9 councillors) and the CDU (9 councillors). Also elected was the SPD (seven councillors), the Greens (3 councillors), the Left (3 councillors) and the FDP (2 councillors). Nevertheless, since the WiF-group was divided into two different caucuses, the SSW-group has been the largest group in the Council Assembly. The current City President is Dr. Christian Dewanger (WiF).
In the mayoral election of 2010, Simon Faber (SSW) was elected Lord Mayor of the town in a run-off election with 54,8% of the vote. He is the first person from the Danish Minority to occupy this office since the end of World War II.
Flensburg's coat of arms shows in gold above blue and silver waves rising to the left a six-sided red tower with a blue pointed roof breaking out of which, one above the other are the two lions of Schleswig and Denmark; above is a red shield with the silver Holsatian nettle leaf on it. The town's flag is blue, overlaid with the coat of arms in colour.
The lions symbolize Schleswig, and the nettle leaf Holstein, thus expressing the town's unity with these two historic lands. The tower recalls Flensburg's old town rights and the old castle that was the town's namesake (Burg means "castle" in German). The waves refer to the town's position on the Flensburg Fjord.
The coat of arms was granted the town by King Wilhelm II of Prussia in 1901, and once again in modified, newly approved form on 19 January 1937 by Schleswig-Holstein's High President (Oberpräsident)
Flensburg maintains partnerships with the following towns:
The town has a well established Combined Heat and Power and District Heating scheme which was installed between 1970 and 1980.
West of Flensburg runs the A 7 Autobahn, leading north to the Danish border, whence it continues as European route E45. Furthermore, Federal Highways (Bundesstraßen) B 200 and B 199 pass through the municipal area.
Also west of the town lies the Flensburg-Schäferhaus airport.
Local transport is provided by several buslines such as "Aktiv Bus GmbH" and "Allgemeinen Flensburger Autobus Gesellschaft" (AFAG) along with others. They all operate within an integrated fare system within the Flensburg transport community (Verkehrsgemeinschaft Flensburg). They also all subscribe to the Schleswig-Holstein tariff system whereby anyone travelling from anywhere in Schleswig-Holstein or Hamburg may use Flensburg buses free to connect with their final destinations. It works both ways, of course, and a rider boarding any bus in Flensburg need only name his destination anywhere in Schleswig-Holstein or Hamburg, pay his fare, and travel all the way to that destination on the one ticket.
The current Flensburg station was opened in 1927 south of the Old Town. From there, trains run on the main line to Neumünster and on to Hamburg and to Fredericia, among them some InterCity connections as well as trains serving the line running to Eckernförde and Kiel. Another stop for regional trains to Neumünster is to be found in Flensburg-Weiche. The stretch of line to Niebüll has been out of service since 1981, efforts to open it again notwithstanding. The secondary line to Husum and the lesser lines to Kappeln and Satrup no longer exist. Even the tramway, which opened in 1881 to horse-drawn trams, was electrified in 1906 and at one point ran four lines was replaced with buses in 1973.
In Flensburg, the Flensburger Tageblatt, from the Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag (newspaper publisher) is published daily, as is the bilingual (German and Danish) Flensborg Avis. There are also two weekly advertising flyers, "MoinMoin" (named for a common regional greeting) and "Wochenschau" ("Newsreel") as well as an illustrated town paper ("Flensburg Journal"), the Flensburg "campus newspaper" and a town magazine ("Partout"). Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) runs one of its oldest studios right near the Deutsches Haus. Flensburg is the site of a number of radio transmission facilities: on the Fuchsberg in the community of Engelsby, Norddeutscher Rundfunk runs a transmission facility for VHF, television and medium wave. A cage aerial is mounted on a 215 m-high guyed, earthed steel-lattice mast. This transmitter is successor to the Flensburg transmitter through which the announcement of Germany's surrender was broadcast on 8 May 1945.
The broadcasting tower on the Fuchsberg is used for the programmes of Norddeutscher Rundfunk and Danmarks Radio while the countrywide VHF radio programmes of R.SH, delta radio, Deutschlandfunk and Deutschlandradio are aired from the Flensburg-Freienwill tower.
Flensburg has no local transmitter of its own because Schleswig-Holstein's state broadcasting laws only allow transmitters that broadcast statewide. From 1993 to 1996, "Radio Flensburg" tried to establish a local Flensburg radio station by using a local transmitter just across the border in Denmark. It had to be shut down, however, owing to the Danish transmitter's own financial problems. From October 2006 Radio Flensburg broadcast as an internet radio.
The "Offener Kanal" ("Open Channel") shows programmes made by local citizens seven days a week, mostly in the evenings, and can also be seen on cable television.
Flensburg is home to the following institutions:
Also on hand in Flensburg is a complete range of training and professional schools, including a number of Danish ones. Flensburg is home to Schleswig-Holstein's Central State Library, a university library, a town bookshop and the Danish Central Library for South Schleswig. The last named offers not only intensive courses in Danish, but also, with its "Slesvigsk samling" collection, a vast repository of unique material about the border area's history and culture. Flensburg has an extensive town archive. The Danish minority's archive is housed at the Danish Central Library.
Flensburg has a well preserved Old Town with many things to see from centuries gone by. Characteristic is the row along the waterfront. Three of the four old town cores are found along this north-south axis. The building boom in Imperial times led to a partial rebuilding of the Old Town, but without destroying its structure, and rather leading to notable expansion of the town. Virtually unscathed in the Second World War, Flensburg, like other places in Germany, adopted a policy of getting rid of old buildings and building anew in the style of the times. This trend was limited in Flensburg by a lack of money, but before the policy was finally stopped in the late 1970s, countless old buildings had been demolished in the north and east Old Town to be replaced by newer structures. Despite great losses, Flensburg still comes across as having a compact, well preserved Old Town in the valley with good additions to what was built in the founders' time on the surrounding heights.
The town of Flensburg has bestowed honorary citizenship upon the following persons, named here in chronological order:
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