Osnabrück (German pronunciation: [ɔsnaˈbʁʏk] (About this sound listen); Westphalian: Ossenbrügge; archaic English: Osnaburg) is a city in the federal state of Lower Saxony in north-west Germany. It is situated in a valley penned between the Wiehen Hills and the northern tip of the Teutoburg Forest. With a population of 168,145 Osnabrück is one of the four largest cities in Lower Saxony. The city is the centrepoint of the Osnabrück Land region as well as the District of Osnabrück.
The founding of Osnabrück was linked to its positioning on important European trading routes. Charles the Great founded the Diocese of Osnabrück in 780. The city was also a member of the Hanseatic League. At the end of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), the Peace of Westphalia was negotiated in Osnabrück and the nearby city of Münster. In recognition of its role as the site of negotiations, Osnabrück later adopted the title Friedensstadt ("city of peace"). The city is also known as the birthplace of anti-war novelist Erich-Maria Remarque and painter Felix Nussbaum.
More recently Osnabrück has become well known for its industry. Numerous companies in the automobile, paper, steel and grocery sectors are located in the city and its surrounding area. In spite of the massive destruction inflicted on the city during World War II, the Altstadt (old town) was eventually reconstructed extensively with designs loyal to the original medieval architecture there. Osnabrück was also the home of the largest British garrison outside the United Kingdom. Osnabrück's modern, urban image is enhanced by the presence of more than 22,000 students studying at the University and the University of Applied Sciences. Although part of the state of Lower Saxony, historically, culturally and linguistically Osnabrück is considered part of the region of Westphalia.
Osnabrück initially developed as a marketplace next to the bishopric founded by Charlemagne, King of the Franks, in 780. Some time prior to 803, the city became the seat of the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück. Although the precise date is uncertain, it is likely that Osnabrück is the oldest bishopric in Lower Saxony.
In the year 804 Charlemagne was said to have founded the Gymnasium Carolinum in Osnabrück. This would make it the oldest German Gymnasium school, but the charter date is disputed by historians, some of whom believe it could be a forgery.
In 889 the town was given merchant, customs, and coinage privileges by King Arnulf of Carinthia. Osnabrück was first referred to in records as a "city" in 1147. A decade later, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted the city fortification privileges (Befestigungsrecht). Most of the towers which were part of the original fortifications are still visible in the city. Osnabrück became a member of the Hanseatic League in the 12th century, as well as a member of the Westphalian Federation of Cities.
The history of the town in the later Middle Ages was recorded in a chronicle by Albert Suho, one of Osnabrück's most important clerics in the 15th century.
Following the Nazis' seizure of power in January 1933, Osnabrück was subjected to the implementation of National Socialist economic, political, and social programmes. These resulted in economic growth for ethnic Germans who did not run afoul of the new regime, and the town went from having over 10,000 unemployed in early 1933 to actually having a labour shortage five years later. However, dissenters, supporters of opposition parties and German Jews (who had experienced centuries of discrimination in the city ) did not share in this growth and found themselves discriminated against, imprisoned or forced to close their businesses and leave town. During the World War II, both Jews and Romany were deported to concentration camps and extermination camps en masse.
The war ended for Osnabrück on 4 April 1945, when the XVII Corps of Montgomery's Second Army entered the city with little resistance. By the end of the war the city had been extensively bombed and required major reconstructive programmes following the war's end. Leading Nazis fled the city and the British appointed a new mayor, Johannes Petermann. However, during the allied occupation of Germany a British military governor, Colonel Geoffrey Day was placed in charge of administering the city. Relations between the occupiers and the citizens of Osnabrück were generally peaceful, though tensions existed; some minor fights broke out between British soldiers and local youths and some Osnabrückers resented the relationships that developed between the occupiers and local women. Additionally, the British took over more than seventy homes for their own use by the middle of 1946. Amidst shortages, the black market thrived and became one of the main focuses of police activity.
Lower Saxony (German: Niedersachsen [ˈniːdɐzaksn̩]; Low German: Neddersassen) is a German state (Land) situated in northwestern Germany. It is the second largest state by land area, with 47,624 square kilometres (18,388 sq mi), and fourth largest in population (7.9 million) among the sixteen Länder federated as the Federal Republic of Germany. In rural areas, Northern Low Saxon (a dialect of Low German) and Saterland Frisian (a variety of the Frisian language) are still spoken; however, the number of speakers is declining.
Lower Saxony borders on (from north and clockwise) the North Sea, the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Netherlands. Furthermore, the state of Bremen forms two enclaves within Lower Saxony, one being the city of Bremen, the other, its seaport city of Bremerhaven. In fact, Lower Saxony borders more neighbours than any other single Bundesland. The state's principal cities include the state capital Hanover, Braunschweig (Brunswick), Lüneburg, Osnabrück, Oldenburg, Hildesheim, Wolfenbüttel, Wolfsburg, and Göttingen.
The northwestern area of Lower Saxony, which lies on the coast of the North Sea, is called East Frisia and the seven East Frisian Islands offshore are popular with tourists. In the extreme west of Lower Saxony is the Emsland, a traditionally poor and sparsely populated area, once dominated by inaccessible swamps. The northern half of Lower Saxony, also known as the North German Plains, is almost invariably flat except for the gentle hills around the Bremen geestland. Towards the south and southwest lie the northern parts of the German Central Uplands: the Weser Uplands and the Harz mountains. Between these two lie the Lower Saxon Hills, a range of low ridges. Thus, Lower Saxony is the only Bundesland that encompasses both maritime and mountainous areas.
Lower Saxony falls climatically into the north temperate zone of central Europe that is affected by prevailing Westerlies and is located in a transition zone between the maritime climate of Western Europe and the continental climate of Eastern Europe. This transition is clearly noticeable within the state: whilst the northwest experiences an Atlantic (North Sea coastal) to Sub-Atlantic climate, with comparatively low variations in temperature during the course of the year and a surplus water budget, the climate towards the southeast is increasingly affected by the Continent. This is clearly shown by greater temperature variations between the summer and winter halves of the year and in lower and more variable amounts of precipitation across the year. This sub-continental effect is most sharply seen in the Wendland, in the Weser Uplands (Hamelin to Göttingen) and in the area of Helmstedt. The highest levels of precipitation are experienced in the Harz because the Lower Saxon part forms the windward side of this mountain range against which orographic rain falls. The average annual temperature is 8 °C (7.5 °C in the Altes Land and 8.5 °C in the district of Cloppenburg).
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