History of the city of Münster

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The history of the city of Münster in Westphalia has been documented since the city was founded around 1200 years ago and can also be traced back to the settlement sites that existed in the city in prehistoric times. In the first half of the 16th century, during the reign of the Anabaptists , the entire archive of the city was destroyed, so that the older historical data cannot be determined in part or can only be made accessible through documents that were not archived within the city.

City coat of arms of the city of Münster in the jewelery setting
View of the old town of Münster and beyond
Historic town hall on Prinzipalmarkt
Cathedral of Munster
View of Aasee and Mecklenbecker Strasse in the south of the old town

Prehistory and early history

The Münster city area was not one of the outstanding prehistoric settlement areas in the Münsterland Bay . Traces of the hunters and gatherers of the Stone Age such as flint tools and stalked arrowheads are present, but larger sites were not discovered. From the Bronze Age , flint daggers, bronze grave jewelry and bronze brooches were found in what is now the city. Settlement continuity from the Bronze Age to the pre-Roman Iron Age can be proven here, but not in the inner city area. A depot find of sword-shaped iron bars in the Geist district indicates intensive blacksmithing . It comes from the Hallstatt or Latène period .

Roman times and Old Saxon settlement of Mimigernaford

Reconstructed Saxon house from the Merovingian era

Traces of Germanic settlement from the early Roman imperial era as well as from the 2nd and 3rd centuries have been discovered on the Horsteberg, the hill on the Aa on which the cathedral was later built . Imports show close contacts with the Roman provinces on the left bank of the Rhine . However, the settlements were abandoned by 300 AD at the latest.

The archaeologists attribute these traces to the Rhine-Weser Germanic group of finds . According to the reports of ancient historians such as Tacitus and Strabo , the early inhabitants must have been Brukterer . Brukterer were probably also among the Germanic associations that successfully fought against Roman expansion. One of the legionary eagles captured in the Battle of Varus in 9 AD was recaptured in 15 AD during the revenge campaign of Germanicus against the Brukterer.

The younger settlement, however, cannot be assigned to the Brukterians, as they - as Tacitus gleefully reports - were defeated and almost exterminated during armed conflicts with neighboring Germanic tribes. Presumably the victorious Chamaven settled the hill on the Aa, who joined with the remains of the Brukterer and other West Germanic peoples in the 3rd century to form the Franconian tribal association .

It is estimated that the small Saxon settlement of Mimigernaford has been in the area of Domplatz since the 6th century . The Saxons , originally located in the Holstein area , spread across the Elbe-Weser triangle towards England and south in the 3rd and 4th centuries . The origin of the tribal name westfalai , as the western Saxons are called in the Franconian annals, and they probably also called themselves, is not exactly clear. One interpretation connects the root word fal with pale, flax-colored and relates it to the hair color. There are also different interpretations of the name of the settlement Mimigernaford. According to recent studies, the settlement on the ford over the Aa is named after the Mimigerns, the clan members of a progenitor named Mimigern. The name was used until the 10th century, but often in the modified form Mimigardeford . The Mimigerneford spelling was also used in some maps .

Middle Ages - From the cathedral monastery to the Hanseatic city

The Buddenturm - remnants of the original city fortifications around 1200

Establishment of the monastery settlement by Liudger

The year 793 is considered the official founding year Minster: On behalf of Charlemagne who founded Friese Liudger on the Horsteberg in the small farming community Mimigernaford or in their immediate environment a monastery (monasterium) . On March 30, 805, a diocese was established in Münster and Liudger was appointed by the Archbishop of Cologne, Hildebold, to be the first bishop of Münster or Mimigernaford, as it was still called. In addition, the settlement was given the status of a civitas ( city ), since a bishop was only allowed to reside in one city, and construction work for the construction of the Münster cathedral was started. However, the city rights were not granted until a few centuries later. It is estimated that around the year 900 a rampart was built around the cathedral, which has now grown significantly without any actual city rights. Within this Domburg , the settlement of the ministerials and craftsmen began. Due to the sustained economic upturn, market settlements such as the rye market or the old fish market were formed at the gates of the Domburg . In addition to agriculture, the city turned into an important trading point.

Walling of the city and the cathedral district

The cathedral of Münster
Sketch of the situation of cathedral immunity and the walling of the town center

Due to the ever-growing community, the Überwasserkirche was founded around 1040 west of the Domburg . Also in the beginning of the 11th century the first church building of the Lambertikirche was founded as the first market church in the city, which was donated by the merchants. In the year 1068 a new name for the city appears for the first time with “Monasterium”. The economic development continued until the bishop was expelled from the city by the citizens, who fell out after the investiture dispute between the emperor and the pope over the right to appoint a bishop. As a result, the city was besieged by Lothar von Süpplingenburg and burned down completely on February 2, 1121. After the rebuilding and expansion of the previously existing markets, for example through the Prinzipalmarkt , Münster - or "Munstre", as it was also called colloquially at the time - received city rights around 1170 and on May 4, 1173 with Bishop Hermann II. von Katzenelnbogen became the first prince-bishop ruler after Emperor Friedrich I approved the acquisition of bailiff over the Münster monastery from Simon I von Tecklenburg by his predecessor Ludwig I von Wippra . When the city burned down completely due to another large city fire in 1197, the craftsmen and traders were forbidden to resettle within the Domburg. They therefore settled in the markets to the east and thus laid the foundation stone for the rise of Münster, as the name of the city is first documented from sources in 1206, to an important trading center in Westphalia. At the same time as the city was rebuilt, it was decided to build an outer city wall around the market settlements in order to be able to defend the traders from possible attackers.

This city wall was eight to ten meters high, over 4 km long and provided with a ditch in front of it. To secure the wall and the ten city gates there were six towers along the way. In the 14th century it was reinforced by an outer wall and a second moat. The course of the city wall is roughly marked by the promenade . At 104 ha, Münster was the largest city in Westphalia in terms of area, followed by the most important cities of Soest (102 ha), Dortmund (81 ha), Paderborn (66 ha), Herford (58 ha) and Minden (50 ha). Osnabrück only came close to Munster in the second half of the 13th century with the establishment of the new town on the order of 102 hectares. Together with the cities mentioned, Münster was one of the most important cities of the Hanseatic League in Westphalia.

Member of city leagues and the Hanseatic League

The historic town hall on Prinzipalmarkt

Around the middle of the 13th century, the mighty cities united to form city leagues to counteract the impotence of the emperor and the ruling anarchy in the Holy Roman Empire . The aim was to secure free access to the markets and to set up a protection community against attackers. On May 22nd, 1246, Munster merged with the cities of Osnabrück, Minden, Herford and Coesfeld to form the Ladbergen City Association and in 1253 with Dortmund, Soest and Lippe to form the Werner Association . These alliances were the first forerunners of the Hanseatic League in Westphalia and led to a sustained economic boom. Münster rose to become an important trading city in Westphalia and the influence of traders and merchants on the city grew. After the bourgeoisie, headed by the noble heirs , secured the supervision of trade and commerce as well as the excise during the early 13th century , they put the town's first military contingent in 1270. Through a contract with Prince-Bishop Everhard von Diest from 1278, Münster came into the possession of further privileges and appeared for the first time as a state in the state parliament. The city secured its first state-law privileges in 1309, when the then Prince-Bishop and sovereign Conrad I von Berg waived his right to the estate of minor free citizens.

Witnesses of this economic and political upswing are the larger new building of the bourgeois market church St. Lamberti from 1375 and the Gothic town hall built towards the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century in direct line of sight to the cathedral, which compared the political and legal independence of the city should demonstrate to the bishop. Another important church in Münster was also built in this century, the Liebfrauenkirche , built in 1340 west of the Domburg, after both of its predecessors had been completely destroyed. Since it is on the opposite side of the Aa ("Above the waters"), it is also known as the Überwasserkirche .

One of the stones from the Hanseatic cities

In 1368 Münster was first mentioned as a member of the Hanseatic League in a privilege of Albrecht von Mecklenburg , King of Sweden. However, it is likely that the city had grown into the Hanseatic League a long time before. As a result of the so-called Stiftsfehde from 1450 to 1458, Münster left the Hanseatic League in 1454. The collegiate feud was a dispute between the city and the diocese over the appointment of a new bishop. It ended with the guilds gaining the right to appoint members of the city council. At the same time, the city received its Hanseatic rights back. From 1494 Münster received the status of a suburb of the Hanseatic League in Westphalia and thus again a great importance due to the leadership of the Westphalian Hanse quarter after Cologne had been excluded from the Hanseatic League. Since the 1200th anniversary in 1993, in Salzstraße , Münster's oldest trade route, original stones from all Hanseatic cities and their city coats of arms, framed with brass and embedded in the pavement, have been a reminder of the importance of the city within the Hanseatic League.

The heirs, the city patriciate

A special feature of Münster's history are the so-called hereditary men . They are the patriciate , the city nobility of Münster. The hereditary families came at least in part, but probably mainly from the ministeriality and knighthood of the bishop. They differed from the rest of the population of Münster mainly in that they had the sole passive right to vote in councils. The rest of the citizenship was excluded from the city government. Only members of the hereditary families , of which the originally noble family of Barons Droste zu Hülshoff is certainly the best known, provided the councilors, mayors and city judges until the change of the city constitution after the monastery feud in 1458, some until the 17th century. Other important hereditary families were the Bischopinck , Bock, Schenckinck, von der Tinnen, Kerckerinck , von der Wieck and others. A street in Münster was named after each hereditary family.

The collegiate feud from 1450 to 1457

The aforementioned collegiate feud occurred after the death of the bishop of Münster, Heinrich II von Moers. Two candidates ran for the election of his successor in the part of the Hochstift . On the one hand, these were Walram von Moers , who was appointed by his brother and Archbishop of Cologne, Dietrich II of Moers , and who received the approval of part of the canons in Hausdülmen on July 15 . On the other side stood the Counts of Hoya , the city of Münster, a large part of the clergy and later also a part of the canons. After Count Johann von Hoya had already been elected administrator, his brother Erich I von Hoya was to become the new bishop of Münster. He was favored among other things in a settlement carried out by Count Everwin von Bentheim-Steinfurt on October 13, 1450. In addition, the monastery administrator, Count Johann von Hoya, had the most important state castles under his control. Ultimately, an appeal was made to Pope Nicholas V to resolve the issue. Contrary to the previously concluded settlement, however, he appointed Walram von Moers as the new bishop.

In the middle of the year 1451 the situation came to a head after Johann von Hoya on June 11, 1451 by the contract of Hausdülmen with Duke Johann I von Kleve against Walram von Moers, who had been declared bishop by the Pope, and his brother, the Archbishop of Cologne, and they declared war on them on July 9, 1451. After the city of Münster also decided on the same day by King Friedrich III. In the following months the fighting flared up in the following months and Münster and the followers of Hoya were excommunicated and given an interdict. Nevertheless, with Vreden , one of the last bases in Walrams fell into the hands of Johann von Hoya.

From 1453 the tide began to turn and Walram von Moers slowly gained the upper hand. Johann von Hoya was therefore forced to take action against the citizens of Münster and the city council. This procedure was sharply criticized by the Hanseatic Congress on October 17, 1454 and Münster was excluded from the Hanseatic League as long as the old council constitution of the city was not restored. In terms of war, Walram and Dietrich von Moers continued to advance after they won a victory against the troops of the opposing party on September 18, 1454. However, neither party could achieve a decisive victory. Even after Walram von Moers, who was appointed bishop by the Pope, died on October 3, 1456, two candidates continued to strive for the office of bishop. In addition to Erich von Hoya, the second candidate was now Konrad von Diepholz. But Pope Kalixt III. did not appoint either of them to be the new bishop, but rather Johann von Simmern-Zweibrücken. The collegiate feud was officially ended on October 23, 1457 by the Kranenburg Treaty , after Erich von Hoya was settled with a lifelong pension and the city of Munster recognized the new bishop.

Modern times from 1500 to 1648

View from the south-west of Münster, a work by Remigius Hogenberg from 1570 based on an older drawing by Hermann tom Ring ; On the left the Überwasserkirche still with the original tower dome, in the middle the St. Paulus Cathedral, on the right the Lambertikirche and on the right outside the Ludgerikirche: in the foreground in front of the cathedral the Neuwerk as part of the city fortifications at the entrance of the Aa into the city

Time of the reformation

The citizens of Münster tried in several attempts to emancipate themselves from the episcopal authorities and to gain imperial city status, especially after the period towards the end of the Middle Ages in the first years of the 16th century, which was characterized by armed conflicts, hardship and political turmoil. Many people expected the imminent end of the world , the Last Judgment and the New Jerusalem and looked for ways to salvation in the church and in faith. When Martin Luther published his 95 theses in 1517 , in which he spoke out against the doctrine of indulgences and the indulgence trade, he sparked a Reformation movement in the Holy Roman Empire. This movement reached Münster towards the end of the 1520s. Attempts at mediation by the Catholic mayor Everwin II of Droste zu Handorf were in vain.

In 1529 the chaplain and preacher Bernd Rothmann began to preach in the St. Mauritz Church with elements of the Reformation doctrine. After he returned from educational trips to Wittenberg , Marburg and Strasbourg in 1531 , he received from the then bishop and opponent of the Reformation, Friedrich III. von Wied , first on August 29th, then again on October 5th and December 17th, 1531 ban on preaching. On January 7, 1532 he was finally expelled from the country by the Prince-Bishop of Münster. He then wrote several letters to the bishop and the city council that they might publicly refute his teachings and continued to preach despite the prohibition. Under the impression of the printed summary of his beliefs, the citizens of the city turned to the heads of the Münster guilds with the request to work in the city council for equality of faiths. Because of this commitment to Rothmann's teachings, she forced his acceptance into the house of the Kramer Guild, the Krameramtshaus .

Fighter against the Anabaptist movement in Münster: Prince-Bishop Franz von Waldeck

After the tired of the government, Bishop Friedrich III. von Wied had abdicated after this escalation and his successor, Bishop Erich von Braunschweig-Grubenhagen , had died after only one and a half months in office, Franz von Waldeck became the new Bishop of Munster, who was open to the Reformation in principle. However, he had to commit himself to the cathedral chapter of Münster to suppress and combat the new teaching. In the summer of 1532 he imposed economic sanctions on the city after the city council gave in to the demands of the citizens to provide suitable preachers for the teaching of the Reformation in all parish churches and thus switched to the Lutheran creed. When these sanctions had no effect, however, he granted Münster freedom of belief on February 14, 1533 in the "Dülmen Treaty".

In the meantime, however, Rothmann had strayed far from the original teaching of Luther and turned to the theology of Melchior Hofmann , who was considered one of the leaders of the Anabaptist movement . The central point of this theology was the criticism of infant baptism and the Last Supper, which led to the dispute in the town hall on August 7 and 8, 1533. After Hermann Staprade, the preacher of the Lambertikirche , refused to baptize children in September and the council closed the churches, further unrest broke out in November. Thereupon the city council issued a disciplinary code that obliged every citizen to live according to the commandments of God handed down in the Gospels. Criticizing infant baptism and the Lord's Supper was made a criminal offense. It was printed and distributed in December 1533. The title page was adorned with the letters "VDMIE" for Verbum Domini Manet In Eternum , the Protestant battle cry "The word of the Lord remains in eternity." With this discipline , the city underlined its commitment to the Lutheran faith and again clearly opposed the Catholic clergy Authorities. But the movement of the Anabaptists, which was to spread in Münster at the beginning of 1534, could no longer be stopped.

Episode of the Anabaptist Empire

Baskets of the Baptists at the Lamberti Church

The dramatic episode of the Anabaptist rule began in 1534 after groups had moved in from the Netherlands since January of that year , promoting adult baptism and striving for the establishment of the "New Jerusalem" of the end times. The leader of these groups was the former baker Jan Mathys . While the now mostly Lutheran population was open to the new teaching, Bishop Franz von Waldeck , who had practically already been expelled from Münster, demanded that the city hand over the Anabaptists. This refused, however, and sided with the preacher. On January 23, von Waldeck had the founder of the Anabaptist movement in Münster, Bernd Rothmann, arrested and began preparations for the siege of the city. He was able to fend off a "counterattack" by the Anabaptists that followed on February 15, 1534 at Schöneflieth Castle near Greven .

The "King" of Münster: Jan van Leyden

After the victory of the Anabaptist party in the council elections on February 23, 1534 and the associated takeover of power by the Anabaptists, there were book burnings and iconoclasms , including the smashing of the first astronomical clock in the cathedral. In addition, money was abolished and polygamy was introduced a little later in July . Opponents of the Anabaptist movement had to leave the city by February 27 or were forcibly baptized. As the prophesied by Jan Mathys Last Judgment had on Easter Sunday, 5 April 1534 not occurred, he tried by a failure to destroy the besiegers from the city. He was killed in this attempt. His successor was Jan van Leyden . Van Leyden saw the failure of further attack attempts by the besiegers as a divine sign that Munster was the " New Jerusalem ". In September 1534 he was crowned king of the so-called "Kingdom of Zion" by the Warendorf goldsmith Johann Dusentschuer, which is why Münster can call itself the "royal city".

Attack on Münster by the troops of Prince-Bishop Franz von Waldeck on Whitsun 1534

The situation in the besieged city worsened, so that during the greatest famine, even the white lime paint is said to have been scraped off the walls of the churches and, diluted with water, distributed as milk. Despite the strong city fortifications, which earned Münster the reputation of impregnability, and massive resistance, the starved and chaotic city finally fell on June 24, 1535 - through the betrayal of the carpenter Heinrich Gresbeck, who opened the "Kreuztor" with some mercenaries opened in the city wall. As a result, there was a bloodbath among the Anabaptists. On January 22, 1536, the three leaders of the Anabaptists, Jan van Leyden, his governor Bernd Krechting and council member Bernd Knipperdolling , were tortured and executed in public in front of the town hall . In order to set a permanent and widely visible symbol, their bodies were hung in three iron baskets at the Lamberti Church, the originals of which are still hanging there. These are often incorrectly referred to as cages. Reasons for this are above all reports from foreign authors and visitors who reported from the end of the 18th century with negative terms about the rule of the Anabaptists discredited as "Anabaptists", as well as translation errors in Latin manuscripts about the Anabaptist empire.

Consequences of the Anabaptist rule, the prosperity of the township and the Counter Reformation

Ernst von Bayern (1554–1612), Elector and Archbishop of Cologne, Prince-Bishop of Freising, Hildesheim, Liège, Munster, leading representative of the Counter Reformation

As a result of the Anabaptist rule, Bishop Franz von Waldeck suppressed Protestant services and deprived Münster of all rights, including free election of councils, jurisdiction, military sovereignty, supervision of city defense, legislation and tax collection. From then on, the members of the council were determined by himself. However, this changed in 1541 when the bishop needed the support of the city. In gratitude, he returned her some rights and privileges, before she was finally given the right to freely elect councils and to form guilds in 1553. The control of the two most influential bodies was thus back in the hands of the citizens: the city council saw itself as city government and had significant influence on the politics of its prince-bishop's ruler. The guilds, in turn, had a say in many questions and decisions of the council, including tax collection and city defense. In addition, with the "Great Rifle Brotherhood" reintroduced in 1557, they also trained the contingent of citizens who contributed to the defense of the city.

After the population had declined from 10,000 to 12,000 inhabitants to 3000 to 4000 during the rule of the Anabaptists, it reached its old level again within only 60 years. At the same time, prosperity rose in Münster, which at the end of the 16th century had its heyday as a township experienced. The many churches, monasteries and other ecclesiastical institutions, which with their wealthy clergy provided a large number of buyers of food, textiles and luxury goods, had a decisive influence on this development. But also the administrative and judicial reforms between 1571 and 1574 by Bishop Johann II von Hoya and the newly established authorities with their wealthy officials contributed greatly to the economic prosperity of Münster. The prosperity was reflected in the image of the city. In addition to the minting of gold and silver coins, numerous poor houses, monasteries and stately public and private buildings were donated. To protect prosperity, the already well-developed city fortifications were further strengthened, which should prove to be a significant advantage when the Thirty Years War broke out in Europe in 1618 . The city's enormously increased self-confidence is demonstrated by a legal battle brought by Mayor Bernhard II von Droste zu Hülshoff in 1616 at the Imperial Court of Justice against the Prince-Bishop and sovereign. At least he managed to get the emperor to postpone his intervention until at least 1620 - with the help of a large citizens' meeting and the dispatch of a city delegation to the Reichshofrat in Prague.

The St. Peter Church of the Jesuits

While the worldly development was clearly going in one direction, this was not evident for the religious for a long time. Under the impression of the still fresh memories of the Anabaptist Empire, neither the bishops nor the state estates wanted to provoke a renewed conflict between Catholics and Protestants. After the Council of Trent , reforms began in Münster from 1566 under the influence of the cathedral dean Gottfried von Raesfeld , and from 1571 church visitations took place with the participation of the episcopal official Everwin von Droste zu Hülshoff . But only with the election of Cologne's Archbishop Ernst von Bayern as Bishop of Munster in 1585 did the Catholic faith regain the upper hand. Against the will of the city council, the new bishop established a branch of the Jesuit order in 1588 and was even able to take over the Paulinum , the traditional cathedral school. The main task of the Order in the 16th century was primarily the systematic teaching of the faith or catechesis in the parishes and preaching in order to prepare and advance the so-called “ Counter Reformation ” of the Catholic Church with the beliefs renewed after the Council of Trent. In addition to instruction in the church, she also took place in schools and universities, such as in Münster in the St. Petri Church founded by the Jesuits and the Jesuit college . In particular, the takeover of the Paulinum was very beneficial for the supporters of the Counter-Reformation in this respect, because with the 1150 students it counted in 1592, who made up a good tenth of the total population, Münster should become one again within just one generation be a purely Catholic city. The monasteries of the Capuchins, Poor Clares and Observants founded between 1612 and 1624 also had a supporting effect. The last remaining Protestants were finally expelled from the city under Prince-Bishop Ferdinand of Bavaria and by order of the city council in 1628.

Peace of Westphalia

Bird's eye view of Münster in 1636
Gerard ter Borch : The Peace of Munster , the Spanish and Dutch ambassadors conjure up the Spanish-Dutch peace treaty in Munster town hall

Münster played an important role in the Thirty Years War . Although the city was besieged twice by the Hessians in 1633 and 1634, the further expansion of the city fortifications towards the end of the previous century spared Münster from being conquered, looted and destroyed by enemy troops. Otherwise, Münster and the Münsterland remained an insignificant sideline until the early years, especially after the Protestant general Duke Christian von Braunschweig was crushed by the imperial army of Count von Tilly on August 6, 1623 near Stadtlohn .

These are probably also the reasons why the Peace of Westphalia was concluded here , which was negotiated in Münster and Osnabrück and ended the longest period of war in Europe. The ambassadors of the Protestant warring parties met in Osnabrück, as it was within Sweden's sphere of influence . The Catholic ambassadors negotiated against this in Munster. The proposal to use Münster as a congress city for the negotiations came from the Swedes in 1641. Emperor Ferdinand III agreed to the city's neutrality . on December 25, 1641 in the Hamburg preliminary contract. After the city and its citizens had been officially asked about this and had agreed to the proposal, Reichshofrat Johann Krane released Münster from its obligations towards the Reich and sovereigns on May 27, 1643. It thus became a neutral city for the time of the congress.

The negotiations took place alternately in the quarters of the ambassadors involved. On January 30, 1648, the Spanish-Dutch peace treaty was signed in the quarter of the Dutch, today's House of the Netherlands . On May 15, 1648, this contract was invoked in a solemn ceremony. The Spanish ambassador, Count Peñaranda , requested the council chamber on the ground floor of the town hall , which was later called the Peace Hall . The Peace of Munster ended the Eighty Years War of the Dutch for their independence from the Spanish and can be seen as the birth of the Netherlands .

The peace negotiations in Münster and Osnabrück between the emperor, the imperial estates, the Swedes and the French dragged on until autumn. On October 24, 1648, the peace treaties were finally signed in Münster and on February 18, 1649 the ratifications were exchanged. This finally ended the Thirty Years War and concluded the Peace of Westphalia.

The historic interior of the Friedenssaal can still be admired today, as it was relocated before the town hall and Prinzipalmarkt were almost completely destroyed during the Second World War . Only the fireplace no longer corresponds to the original.

Modern times from 1648 to 1815

City against prince-bishop

At the time of the Peace of Westphalia, Münster had reached the height of its urban independence and the city was very keen to maintain and further develop this independence: On September 11, 1647, the city of Münster sent an official letter to Emperor Ferdinand III. with the request to give her further rights. These should include the right to coin and the right of occupation . By granting these actual sovereign rights, Münster would in fact have been elevated to the status of a Free Imperial City . A conflict with the prince-bishop's sovereign was inevitable. Since 1650 this was Christoph Bernhard von Galen , also known as the cannon bishop.

The first confrontation between the city and the prince-bishop took place in 1654. The attempt by Galens to arrest his opponent Bernhard von Mallinckrodt in the 1650 bishopric election failed when the city council refused to support him. The subsequent attempt to take Münster in a military coup also failed and led to the Treaty of Schöneflieth on February 25, 1655 , named after Schöneflieth Castle on the southern bank of the Ems in Greven , where the treaty was concluded. This treaty was essentially a compromise between the prince-bishop and the city of Münster and allowed von Galen to station 450 infantry soldiers and 100 horsemen within the city. However, these had to be sworn in on the city, so that in the end there was no danger from them.

The siege of Münster in 1657 - etching by Caspar Merian

Due to continuing tensions between the city and Prince-Bishop Christoph Bernhard von Galen, Münster was looking for allies. Stadtsyndicus Nicholas Drachter traveled to this end negotiations in the Netherlands . On his return on August 9, 1657, von Galen had him arrested. The city then denied the bishop access and demanded the immediate release of Drachter. In response, the prince-bishop besieged the city for the first time on August 20, 1657, relying primarily on artillery shelling. His call to surrender on September 6th was rejected. At the rumor that a Dutch army was rushing to the aid of the city of Munster, von Galen broke off the siege. The end of the siege by the Ghost Treaty of October 21, 1657 represented a de facto defeat for him.

Victory of the prince-bishop and building of the citadel

Münster: Drawing of the Galens Citadel
The victorious Prince-Bishop Christoph Bernhard von Galen

The winter of 1659/60 brought a turning point, when the Emperor rejected Münster's request for the occupation law and at the same time prohibited the search for allies abroad. Prince-Bishop von Galen took advantage of this development and began the second siege of Münster on July 20, 1660. With no support in sight for the city, it soon suffered from financial and food shortages. Melting down table silver, taking out loans from citizens and minting emergency money did not improve the situation either. The situation came to a head when von Galen had the Aa dammed below the city at Christmas 1660 and floods occurred within the city. Due to the hopeless situation and lack of prospect of outside support, the city council handed over the city to the prince-bishop on March 26, 1661. The council had to sign a declaration that in fact meant the end of urban autonomy: the city undertook not to establish any contact with foreign powers and to break off contacts with the Netherlands. In addition to participating in the tax revenue, Münster also had to pay the prince-bishop the sum of 45,000 Reichstalers .

Another consequence of the conflict was the demolition of the western city wall and the addition of a citadel in this area by the bishop, who thus asserted his claim to power over the city. He now took up his inner-city residence in the Fraterhaus zum Springborn . As an open provocation of the citizens, he also set up an episcopal guard in the town hall and surrounded the forecourt of the building with a picket fence. The citizens lost almost all self-government rights, as well as the free election of councils abolished and the council positions were assigned by the prince-bishop. Even the guilds had Galen disempowered. It was not until the time of Prince-Bishop Ferdinand von Fürstenberg in the years 1678 to 1683 that Münster was given back some of its self-administration rights.

Seven Years War and the reforms of Fürstenberg

Freiherr von Fürstenberg - the enlightened reformer
The prince-bishop's palace and today's seat of the university in Münster
The promenade marks the boundaries of the old town

During the Seven Years' War , Münster was repeatedly a theater of war as a supporter of Empress Maria Theresa , Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia . The city was besieged and conquered several times by the allied warring parties, the Electorate of Braunschweig-Lüneburg / Kingdom of Great Britain and Prussia, and France, which was allied with the Empress . It suffered the greatest damage during the siege by the Hanoverians in 1759, when the "Martini quarter" was completely destroyed by heavy bombardment on September 3rd. Under the commandant of the Electorate of Hanover, Christian von Zastrow , the powder tower of the citadel exploded .

In view of the severe destruction during the war, Franz Freiherr von Fürstenberg , Minister for the Duchy of Münster under Prince-Bishop Maximilian Friedrich von Königsegg-Rothenfels , ordered the demolition of the fortifications after the end of the war in 1764. Münster should therefore be an open city and thus avoid further destruction and devastation. At the request of the Münster population, the prince-bishop approved the construction of a prince-bishop's residential palace on the site of the demolished citadel in 1767, the construction of which continued until 1787. It was built by Johann Conrad Schlaun . After his death in 1773, Wilhelm Ferdinand Lipper completed the work. It was also clever who converted the city's former fortifications into the promenade after they were demolished in 1770 . Also in the responsibility of the prince-bishop, the decision was made in 1773 to create a state university, which began teaching when it was founded on April 16, 1780 and from which the Westphalian Wilhelms University later developed. Franz Freiherr von Fürstenberg, the vicar general and permanent representative of the Archbishop of Cologne and Bishop of Munster, Maximilian Friedrich von Königsegg-Rothenfels, played a decisive role in this. He was also significantly involved in the development of the tax system as well as the legal and health systems. As the most important representative of the Catholic Enlightenment in the prince-bishopric, he and the clergyman Bernhard Heinrich Overberg initiated school reforms that were widely recognized and thus became the center of the Munster circle .

The Komödienhaus , Münster's first theater , also came from Wilhelm Ferdinand Lipper . It was opened in 1775 on the Roggenmarkt , financed by the citizens of Münster. A well-known artist was Albert Lortzing , who was to perform here in the 1830s and after whom the later new theater was to be named. After the theater was demolished in 1890 and the interior furnishings of the palace were destroyed in World War II, only the two so-called “ little gatehouses at the Neutor ” in the early classicist style at the northern end of the palace square are left in Münster .

At the end of the 18th century, the French Revolution also affected the Principality of Münster. Several thousand French emigrants sought refuge here, many of them Catholic clergy. In the city of Münster alone there were more than a thousand refugees in 1794. Thanks to the Franco-Prussian Treaty of Basel on April 5, 1795 , in which northern Germany was declared neutral, the wars of revolution did not initially have any direct impact on Münster.

Münster under the rule of Prussia

Münster's last prince-bishop: Maximilian Franz of Austria

In a treaty dated May 23, 1802, Prussia and France agreed on how Prussia should be compensated for the areas on the left bank of the Rhine that were ceded in the French Revolutionary Wars . For this purpose, Prussia in Westphalia was awarded the eastern half of the Upper Monastery of Münster, including the capital of Münster , in addition to the Principality of Paderborn and the Abbeys of Essen , Werden and Herford . The Perpetual Reichstag and the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation had to agree to this treaty. However, Prussia did not wait for this approval. One year after the death of the last Prince-Bishop of Münster, Maximilian Franz von Österreich , on August 3, 1802, the 32nd birthday of the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher with his hussar regiment and three battalions of fusiliers in Munster. Only then was this occupation legitimized by the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss on February 25, 1803. The Münster Hochstift was dissolved and the eastern part, and with it the city of Münster, came to Prussia as the Hereditary Principality of Münster . Freiherr vom Stein was responsible for secularization and began to set up an administration in the city based on the Prussian model.

In 1806 the attracted French troops of Napoleon Bonaparte into Munster. On November 14, 1808, the city was initially assigned to the Ems department of the Grand Duchy of Berg . On April 27, 1811, Berg ceded it to France . In doing so, it became the capital of the Lippe department that was newly formed at that time . Münster became the seat of a Mairie , which administered the city and the neighboring communities.

In 1813, Prussian and Russian troops drove the French out of Munster as part of the Wars of Liberation . After the Congress of Vienna in 1814/1815, Münster was finally assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia. The Mairie became the "Mayor's Office of Münster". Münster became the seat of the district of Münster , but the city itself remained so-called "Immediatstadt" and thus did not belong to the district.

Modern times 1815 to 1914

President of Vincke in the new province of Westphalia

Province of Westphalia 1905
Ludwig Freiherr von Vincke (1815–1844) - Westphalia's most important high president

In the course of the restructuring of the Prussian administration after the Congress of Vienna , Westphalia was re-established and incorporated into the monarchy as a new province. Since April 1, 1816, Münster was the provincial capital of this province of Westphalia , at the same time the administrative seat of the administrative district of Münster , and it became the seat of the General Command of the VII Army Corps .

As early as 1804, Ludwig Freiherr von Vincke had been appointed President of the War and Domain Chamber in Münster and Hamm , since their previous President Freiherr vom Stein was appointed minister to Berlin . Vincke succeeded Steins and held this office until 1806. After Prussia's defeat by Napoleon I , he fled to England , where he got to know the local administrative system of "self-government". On his return in 1807 he joined the reformer group around Freiherr vom Stein. Up until Stein's dismissal in November 1808, with Vincke's participation, decisive reforms were the abolition of serfdom and hereditary subservience , new trade regulations and local self-government in the cities. After Stein's resignation, Vincke became President of the Kurmärk Chamber of Commerce in Potsdam in 1809 , but withdrew to his private property in 1810. It was not until 1813, after the French were defeated in the Battle of Leipzig , that he became governor of the civil government between the Weser and the Rhine as part of the formation of the central administrative departments .

The reorganization of Europe was decided at the Congress of Vienna , which led to the establishment of the new Prussian province of Westphalia. The head president of the province now stood above the government president of the three associated administrative districts. Vincke held this office for almost three decades. Several times he even turned down ministerial posts in Berlin. Vincke managed to unite the more than twenty different individual states between the “Weser and Rhine” to form a state structure of Westphalia . He promoted industrialization , promoted the expansion of infrastructure, for example by making the Lippe navigable, and campaigned for a strong peasantry.

Provincial capital Münster

Former district court, today district court

The borders of Westphalia established in 1815 have survived to this day, apart from minor deviations. At that time, due to industrialization on the Ruhr, Münster was the center of one of the most important Prussian provinces. At the time, they did not yet recognize the opportunities that this presented. The changes that became commonplace with the Prussian takeover were painful: administrative officials monitored compliance with new laws, judges spoke stricter laws and the citizens felt significantly higher taxes. The younger generation had to join the military. It took the Catholics of Münster decades before they realized that the social status of the army could also promote their careers.

With the definitive stationing of the VII Army Corps in 1820, Münster immediately assumed an important position among the Prussian garrison towns. In peacetime the garrison consisted of 2,000 officers and men. After the army reform of 1860 there were over 3,000, in 1871 the military made up almost 12 percent of the population. The first barracks were built in the city center in 1821 and 1831, and it was only after 1875 that the construction of the new barracks on the outskirts of the city (train barracks, artillery barracks and cavalry barracks) began.

Clemens August Droste zu Vischering as Archbishop of Cologne

In addition to new administrative authorities, one of the most important courts in Westphalia was also established, the Higher Regional Court . It had its seat in the Lansberg Curia since 1839. In 1849 it was converted into a court of appeal . In 1880 the regional court moved into the new building on today's Schlossplatz, which was originally intended for the appeal court.

There was a step backwards in the higher education sector, because the “Alma Mater”, which was baptized in 1773, was downgraded to a higher education institution - called an academic institution since 1832 - for Catholic theologians and grammar school teachers after the law and medical faculty had closed. From then on, Münster was largely excluded from general higher education. It was not until 1902 that Münster regained university status with the establishment of the law faculty. In 1914 the Evangelical Theological Faculty was founded. With the active support of the leader of Prussian university policy, Friedrich Althoff , the now rich province was the last in Prussia to receive a university, which in 1907 was named Westphalian Wilhelms University .

It was difficult to integrate the predominantly Catholic province into the predominantly Protestant Prussia, which was particularly evident in 1837 when the Archbishop of Cologne, Clemens August Baron Droste zu Vischering , who had previously been Auxiliary Bishop in Münster (1827-1835), was arrested. Together with his brother Caspar Max (bishop in Münster from 1826–1846), he led the resistance against Prussia. It was about the question of mixed marriages , in which the bishop followed the Pope, while the Prussian state wanted to enforce state law. The internment of the bishop at Minden Fortress triggered a storm of indignation in Münster and in the Catholic areas of Westphalia and the Rhineland. The slowly growing trust of the Catholics in the Prussian state was lost again. In the Kulturkampf of the 1870s, people remembered this affair again, the so-called " Cologne event ".

Railways and railroad nodes

Münster's central train station in 1890

On May 25, 1848, the age of the railroad began in Münster with the opening of the Münster – Hamm railway by the “Münster-Hammer Eisenbahngesellschaft” with a connection to the Cöln-Mindener Eisenbahn . Eight years later (1856) the Münster – Rheine railway was put into operation with a connection to the Hannoversche Westbahn , and in 1872 the line from Wanne-Eickel via Münster to Hamburg was operated by the “Cöln-Mindener Eisenbahngesellschaft”.

The central station was opened on October 1, 1890 . Until then, the two railway companies each had their own train station. The station building was to last until World War II , when it was completely destroyed by Allied bombing. After the nationalization of the nominally private railway companies in the Prussian State Railways , from 1881 all railways in Münster were under state ownership. Parts of the rural communities of Lamberti and St. Mauritz had already been incorporated into the municipality in 1875, and planning authority for the area around the station was now in the hands of the city of Münster. In 1885 the financial means for the construction of a central station were made available. The central station opened on October 1, 1890.

The central station in Münster developed more and more into a hub station, the rail network was expanded in 1903 to Neubeckum and in 1908 via Coesfeld to Empel-Rees. However, the station did not achieve the importance aimed at by the city, mainly because the main line Cologne – Ruhr area – Hanover – Berlin did not pass through Münster.


Johann Bernhard Brinkmann

When the so-called Kulturkampf began at the end of 1871 , nowhere did the conflict in Prussia leave such deep marks as in Münster, the so-called “Rome of the North”. It was particularly fierce in Munster because it was a struggle between preserving the Catholic tradition and adapting to the modern age represented by the Protestant Prussian state. He met a city in which 90 percent of the population professed Catholicism, and a society in which the Church still exerted a considerable influence. And the church felt threatened in its independence and freedom of choice.

The following measures were taken in Prussia:

  • July 1871: Bismarck dissolves the Catholic department in the Prussian Ministry of Culture.
  • March 1872: The religious school supervision in Prussia is replaced by a state ( school supervision law ).
  • May Law 1873: The state controls the training and recruitment of clergy, elected community councils administer the church's property.
  • January 1874: Before the law only the marriage of the registry office is valid ( civil marriage ), not the church one. Whoever wanted to marry in church was only allowed to do so after the civil ceremony.
  • April 1875: The “ Bread Basket Act ” withdraws government grants from the church.
  • June 1875: The “ Monastery Law ” dissolves the monastery cooperatives in Prussia, with the exception of those that limited themselves to nursing.

This resulted in riot-like conditions among the Münster population and in 1875 the arrest of Bishop Johannes Bernhard Brinkmann . He was later able to flee to the Netherlands. In 1884 he returned to the city from exile there, greeted triumphantly by the population.

Incorporation in 1875

The Tuckesburg, the former home of Münster's first zoo director Hermann Landois

The first incorporation of rural communities into the city of Münster took place on January 1, 1875; Parts of the surrounding communities Lamberti , St. Mauritz and Überwasser came to Münster. The urban area grew from 1.92 km² to 10.84 km², the population increased by 8963 inhabitants.

Another important event in the same year was the opening of the first zoological garden in Münster . Until it was closed in 1973 and moved to Lake Aasee in 1974, it was located in the so-called "Kingdom of Heaven" near the former "Neuwerk" in the southwest of the city. The first chairman of the zoo association and zoo director was Hermann Landois , whose house, the " Tuckesburg ", can still be admired on the site of the former zoo. The Aasee was created according to Landois' plans in the first half of the 20th century.

Remains of the facade of the Lortzing Theater

The age of industrialization also caused a sharp increase in the population of the city in Münster. However, for a long time the economic life was shaped by handicrafts and retail. Some of the smaller factories were negligible. The proportion of workers in Münster was quite small, only the construction of the Dortmund-Ems-Canal brought about a change to larger companies with a correspondingly larger workforce. In 1885 the population was 44,060, including 36,751 Catholics, 6784 Protestants and 513 Jews.

In 1887 what had previously been an Immediatstadt became an independent city . However, Münster remained the seat of the Münster district, the layout of which was changed several times in the following decades. The increase in population also led to bottlenecks in the previous three inner-city cemeteries "Kirchhof vor dem Neuthore", "Kirchhof vor dem Hörsterthore" and "Kirchhof vor dem Aegidiithore". After several years of planning, the central cemetery was opened in 1887 - at that time still under the name "Central-Kirchhof".

In order to be able to continue offering theater performances to the city's residents, the 115-year-old, dilapidated comedy house on Roggenmarkt was replaced in 1885 by the extensive renovation of the “Rombergschen Hof” on Neubrückstrasse . The old building was demolished in 1890. The new house was named Lortzing Theater , named after the famous artist Albert Lortzing . The opening took place on November 30, 1895. Due to the complete destruction in World War II and the decision not to rebuild true to the original, only parts of the ruin that were integrated into the new building between 1952 and 1956 are left. This new building became the first new theater building in Germany after the end of the Second World War.

Growing city

City view from 1897 on an old postcard

In 1899 Münster received a port on the new Dortmund-Ems Canal . Due to the relative proximity between the train station and the port and the resulting good transport connections, industrial companies settled in this area. A novelty in 1899 was the city's first “sewage treatment plant”. From this point on, the wastewater was no longer trickled into the Aa, but in the area of ​​the sewage fields . But inner-city traffic also experienced a revolutionary development: with the establishment of Stadtwerke Münster in 1901, the first three tram lines were also opened, which replaced the horse-drawn carriages. Initially, they drove every six minutes at a top speed of 15 km / h on a network of routes totaling eight kilometers. The electricity required to operate the tram was generated by the city's first power station, which opened in the same year.

Port district in the 21st century

In 1900 the Schillergymnasium was inaugurated. It was the first state Protestant grammar school for boys in Münster. Shortly afterwards, in 1902, Kaiser Wilhelm II founded a university again for the city of Münster. In 1907 it was renamed Westphalian Wilhelms University in his honor when he visited Münster on August 22nd. In 1908 women were allowed to study there for the first time.

In 1903, Münster enlarged its urban area by incorporating the remaining parts of the until then still independent communities Lamberti and Überwasser as well as other parts of St. Mauritz. The urban area increased to 65.9 km². In 1915 the population of Münster grew to over 100,000. This quadrupled the population since 1870 and Münster became a major city . Even after the incorporation in 1903, the Münster volunteer fire brigade , which had been used to fight fires, no longer seemed sufficient. The increase in the population and the enlargement of the urban area required permanent readiness for action, so that on May 1, 1905 the Münster fire department was founded as a full-time fire department.

20th century: First World War and Weimar Republic

War and November Revolution

The Prinzipalmarkt at the beginning of the 20th century

The city ​​of Münster was only involved in the events of the First World War through its fellow citizens serving in the war. However, the first years of the war also testified to the euphoric enthusiasm that prevailed in large parts of the German Empire. So it is not surprising that numerous fundraising campaigns to finance the war were successful. For example, on the occasion of U-Boat Day on June 3, 1917, over 22,000 Reichsmarks were donated, although food and money were already in short supply after almost three years of war. The more than 90,000 prisoners of war who had to be cared for in addition to the slightly more than 100,000 inhabitants of the city, who were interned in three camps around Münster in 1918, contributed to the worsening of the care situation.

After the end of the First World War, there was a revolution in Münster on the night of November 8th to 9th, 1918 . After the local general command had previously found out about the rules of conduct in Berlin, it entered into negotiations on November 9, 1918 with representatives of the soldiers, the SPD and the Christian trade unions. As a result, a temporary "Executive Committee" was formed to control the military command and civil authorities. Towards the afternoon, the chairman of the SPD local group Emmerich Düren, who was a member of the committee, announced at the new location at the time that the republic had been proclaimed in Berlin on the same day . On November 13, 1918, a soldiers' council was set up, the "Workers and Soldiers Council District Münster (Westf.)". This was only ousted by General von Watter on February 6, 1919 , when, after the opening of the National Assembly, the Munster soldiers 'council refused to recognize the changed provisions on the position of soldiers' councils in the army. It was also General von Watter and his staff who in the following year coordinated the troops of the Reichswehr and Freikorps from Munster that defeated the Red Ruhr Army in the Ruhr area .

Developments in the Weimar Republic

The Aaseeviertel from above 2014
“Grüner Grund” garden settlement - example of a
garden city settlement project

The world war had only postponed many sociopolitical problems that had been recognized before 1914. After the collapse, the cities suffered from the force of social decline. There was neither enough work nor accommodation for the returning soldiers, an explosive social situation. Lord Mayor Franz Dieckmann wanted to solve some of the problems by developing building land and new housing developments. With the help of housing associations, the largest of these projects was carried out between 1924 and 1931 in the “Habichtshöhe” and “Grüner Grund” areas. 3,000 residents found a new home in this “garden suburb of Geist”. This project, which was inspired by the English garden city idea, had a showcase character across the region.

The only remnant of the Loddenheide barracks - today in the "Peace Park Loddenheide"

Civil aviation began in Münster in 1920 when the first airport was opened on the Loddenheide . This, too, was a job creation measure in the time of need after the war. This had significantly advanced aviation and made it popular. The first regular flight connection led to Bremen. The airport was approached by aircraft from Lloyd Luftverkehr and Junkers-Luft-Verkehrs-AG , later also by the newly founded Deutsche Luft Hanse AG. Despite the subsidies from the Reich Ministry of Post and the city's regular investments in the airport, the success was rather modest. After repeated interruptions in flight operations and changes to the flight plan, Münster's first airport was closed again in 1930 after only 10 years of operation and flight operations ceased. After that, it would take until 1972 before Münster, with Münster / Osnabrück Airport, came into (partial) ownership of an airport again after the airfield in Handorf was closed and demolished shortly after its opening due to the outbreak of World War II.

In 1924, the predecessor of Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), Westdeutsche Funkstunde AG (WEFAG) was founded in Münster . It began broadcasting radio programs with the title Westdeutsche Funkstunde . Two years later, however, the broadcasting corporation's headquarters were relocated from Münster to Cologne .

In 1926 the university hospital was completed. In the same year, the Münsterland hall was also completed in the immediate vicinity of the port and the main train station . In 1928, construction work began on the Aasee as part of a job creation program. The regulation of the Aa also served to protect the old town from flooding. The former zoo director Hermann Landois had made the plans for this as early as 1868.

Period of National Socialism and World War II

National Socialist upheavals and persecution of the Jews

Slow rise, strong center party

At the beginning of the rise of the National Socialists in Germany, the Catholic cathedral was largely skeptical of them. Accordingly, the local branch of the NSDAP was not particularly large. In 1931 the slow rise of the National Socialists began with a large number of events, including 16 major events. Benefiting from speakers from outside, they experienced a steady influx. In particular, the speeches by Hermann Göring and August Wilhelm von Prussia on August 25, 1931 caused a turning point. The NSDAP was able to improve its reputation among the population, moving away from “brown Marxists” to becoming a “decent” party. 

Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, right next to Hitler, in Nuremberg in 1926

After the numerous events of the local NSDAP group, the propaganda was intensified in 1932. Almost the entire party leadership paid a visit to Münster. Among them were Joseph Goebbels , Robert Ley , Gregor Strasser and Wilhelm Frick, as well as the leader of the National Socialist movement, Adolf Hitler . For Hitler it was the second and at the same time last visit to Munster after he had visited the former Free Corps Leader Franz Pfeffer von Salomon in 1926 after his release from prison in order to entrust him with the management of the SA. During an election campaign for the election of the Reich President on April 8, 1932, he spoke to around 10,000 people. About 7000 interested people followed his speech inside the Halle Münsterland, another 3000 listened from the neighboring hall Kiffe. The year before, the city council had refused the National Socialists to hold events in the hall. Due to their increasing influence on politics and the police, a rejection in 1932 could no longer be enforced. The success of this sustained propaganda was evident in the spring of 1933: In the 1933 Reichstag election , the NSDAP increased its share of the vote from 16,246 (24.3%) to 26,490 (36.1%), but was still behind the Center Party with 41.6%. . A few days later, in the local elections on March 12, 1933, this ratio had already been reversed: the NSDAP was now the strongest party with 40.2%, ahead of the center with 39.7%. For comparison: In the election on March 5, the NSDAP came to a total of 43.9% in the German Reich.

Gau capital with many facilities

Alfred Meyer , Gauleiter and Chief President

In the following period of National Socialism , Münster was the administrative seat of the NSDAP district "Westphalia-North". Since Hitler came to power in 1933, the Gaue were no longer just organizational units of the party, but increasingly also became state administrative districts. Gauleiter Meyer was appointed Upper President of Westphalia. The district capital of Münster became the seat of SA Brigade 66, SA Standard 13, SS Section XVII, SS Foot Standard 19, HJ Area Leadership 9, BDM Upper Leadership 9 and other party authorities. The Wehrmacht offices were also expanded.

The number of inhabitants increased from 123,000 in 1933 to 145,000 in 1944. Although a total of 5818 apartments were built between 1933 and 1940, the housing shortage was not resolved. 30% of the new buildings were subsidized with public funds; before 1933 it was 60%.

The problem of unemployment was initially masked by many celebrations and later addressed by job creation measures. Between 1933 and 1937 the city of Münster spent around 9.7 million Reichsmarks for this purpose and in 1937 achieved practically full employment with only 616 unemployed.

Role of the regulatory police

Heinrich B. Lankenau, 2nd from left

Münster became the administrative seat of the commander of the Ordnungspolizei (BdO) in military district VI, the most populous and largest police area in the former German Reich. This comprised what is now North Rhine-Westphalia, the Osnabrück area and, from 1940, eastern Belgium. The Ordnungspolizei was formed by decree of June 26, 1936. The uniformed protection police were merged with the order police. Instead of the 16 state police forces, a Reich police force was formed.

From April 1940 Heinrich B. Lankenau was in command of the Ordnungspolizei. He resided in the " Villa ten Hompel " with up to 40 employees and commanded around 200,000 men. The war expanded the tasks of the regulatory police. The supervisory staff for the labor education camps, later also for the forced labor and prisoner of war camps, were to be provided from here. Guards and transport escorts were put together for the deportation trains to the concentration and extermination camps in the east. From Münster the formation of at least 22 police battalions was monitored, which were deployed in the organization of the murder of the Jewish population of Eastern Europe. Thousands of police officers were sent from here to the occupied territories of Europe. The police became the executive organs of an inhumane extermination policy.

In October 1944, the headquarters of the Ordnungspolizei for Military District VI was relocated from Münster to Düsseldorf-Kaiserswerth .

Destruction of the Jewish community

Old Synagogue Munster before destruction
Memorial plaque for the victims of the Holocaust on the site of the former “Gertrudenhof” restaurant on Warendorfer Strasse

The Jewish community in Munster suffered from business boycotts, social exclusion, professional bans, expulsion from school and university, discrimination and public humiliation. Until 1938, however, there had been no major emigration from circles of the Jewish community. During the Reichspogromnacht on November 10, 1938, the interior of the synagogue was partially destroyed and then set on fire. The approaching fire brigade was not allowed to extinguish, but only to protect the neighboring buildings from the fire. In addition to the destruction of the synagogue, 20 apartments and the last ten Jewish shops were devastated. In addition, 52 men were sent to the police and judicial prison.

Not only the synagogue and the houses became targets, but soon also the Jews themselves. Specifically, the Holocaust began in Münster and the Münsterland at the beginning of December 1941. A total of 403 Jewish citizens, 105 of them directly from Münster, became the ones on Warendorfer Strasse Local "Gertrudenhof" rounded up and brought to the freight yard on the night of December 13, 1941. Around 10 a.m., a freight train left Münster and brought people to the Riga ghetto in locked freight wagons . In the months that followed, three more deportations took place: on January 27, 1942, also to Riga, on March 31, to the Warsaw ghetto and on July 31, to the Theresienstadt concentration camp . Of the original 708 members of the Jewish community in 1933, 299 people were deported to concentration camps, of which only 24 survived. A total of 280 Jewish citizens left Münster and emigrated abroad, seven died by suicide and four survived National Socialism in Münster underground. After deducting the 77 people who died of natural causes during this period, there are 42 people whose fate remains unclear.

The city's history during the Nazi era also included the employment of forced laborers in and around Münster .

Bishop Count von Galen

Bishop and Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen
Galen's sculpture on Cathedral Square

Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen gave his famous three sermons in July and August of 1941. The first and second were directed against the expulsion of the religious and the excavation of the monasteries of the Hiltrup missionaries , 161 of whom were soldiers in the field. The third and most important was directed against the National Socialists ' “euthanasia” program , the so-called Action T4 , and on July 28, 1941, he filed a criminal complaint against it. Apparently Hitler did not dare to approach Galen, they did not want to provoke a church war. The revenge of the National Socialists was directed primarily against the simple priests who offered resistance. This fight against certain developments in the “ Third Reich ” earned him the title Der Löwe von Münster .

But Galen did not oppose the National Socialist regime clearly. In a pastoral letter dated September 14, 1941 , he described the attack on the Soviet Union as the fight against the "plague of Bolshevism ". He described it as "a release from serious worries and a relief from heavy pressure" that the "Führer and Reich Chancellor on June 22, 1941 declared the so-called ' Russian Pact ' concluded with the Bolshevik rulers in 1939 to have expired ..." he Hitler's term " Jewish-Bolshevik rulership" literally. Even his stance after the collapse of the German Empire at the end of the war in 1918 is considered by some to be national-conservative and right of center, as embodied by the Center Party. One sees in von Galen a typical representative of his time who, like large parts of the elites of the empire, rejected the Weimar Republic . His political thinking was probably very “authoritarian” because - as a deeply scriptural Christian - he had made the apostle Paul's admonition his own: “Everyone should obey the bearers of state power. For there is no state authority that does not come from God; each one is appointed by God ”( Rom 13.1  EU ). But it is precisely in von Galen's realization that a regime that violates fundamental human rights has forfeited the legitimacy of its divine institution, today not a few see his outstanding achievement. The term resistance fighter is rejected on the grounds that resistance is not offered by those who criticize excesses, but only by those who want to break and overcome the ruling power.

After the end of the war von Galen was on February 18, 1946 by Pope Pius XII. appointed cardinal. On March 22, 1946, he died in Munster of the consequences of a ruptured appendix. On October 9, 2005, he was beatified in Rome by the Portuguese Cardinal José Saraiva Martins .

Bomb warfare and the destruction of Münster

see: Air raids on Münster

View from the Lambertikirche on the destroyed Prinzipalmarkt in 1945

During the Second World War , Münster's city center was almost 91% destroyed by Allied bombing raids, including numerous important historical buildings such as St. Paulus Cathedral , the castle and almost all of the development on the Prinzipalmarkt . The degree of destruction in the entire urban area was around 63%.

The first air raid on May 16, 1940 affected an industrial warehouse. Another 23 attacks followed by December. Munster was one of the first German cities, where nighttime bombing were here from 6 to 10 July 1941. After a night out attack on June 12, 1943 followed by the first major attack in daylight on October 10, 1943 by 15:03 to 4:30 p.m. Large parts of the city center were destroyed, 473 civilians and almost 200 soldiers died. Since this devastating attack was carried out on a sunny Sunday, there were also many foreigners among the dead who wanted to go to a cinema or a theater. By the end of 1943, 49 air raids had been carried out on Münster. After further periodic attacks, preparations were made for the unconditional surrender of Germany from autumn 1944. The morale of the civilian population should be broken. Between September 1944 and March 1945, 50 air raids were carried out on Münster. In the years 1944 and 1945 the number of air raids flown on Münster is said to amount to 53.

The last and at the same time most devastating air raid devastated the old town, which had already been badly affected: in just under fifteen minutes, between 10:06 a.m. and 10:22 a.m., around 1,800 high-explosive bombs and 150,000 incendiary bombs were dropped from 112 heavy bombers. More than 700 people died in this attack. Quote from one of the bomber pilots involved: "We tore open the shafts, like on the parade ground, 441 tons of bombs rattled down in 16 minutes - you can erase 'Münster' on the map ...". In this attack, 32 US aircraft and 22 German machines were shot down. In the course of the war, the Allied forces dropped a total of 642,000 stick incendiary bombs , around 32,000 high- explosive bombs and 8,000 rubber-benzene incendiary bombs over the city. At the end of the war, only 17 families lived within the promenade ring .

Up to this point in time there had been a total of 1128 air alarms and 102 air attacks in Münster. The total number of bombs dropped was about 32,000 explosive bombs, 642,000 stick bombs and 8100 phosphorus bombs . In the numerous attacks, more than 1,600 people died from direct bomb impact. The low number of victims compared to the intensity can be explained by the fact that large parts of the population had already been evacuated from the city during the period of intensive bombing towards the end of the war. Of 33,737 apartments in the urban area, only 1050 remained undamaged, more than 60% were severely or completely destroyed and thus unusable. The infrastructure collapsed almost completely: Considerable parts of the water pipes were destroyed, as well as 85% of the electricity network. The gas supply had completely failed. Roads were no longer passable and public transport was completely stopped. 24 schools and a large part of the hospitals were also destroyed, so that of the original 7,000 hospital beds, only about 400 were available. In total, around 2.5 million tons of rubble and rubble were incurred in Münster, which had to be removed.

End of the war and a new beginning

German prisoners in the British Army, April 2, 1945

American and British troops were already deep in the Münsterland at the end of March 1945. The final phase of the war had long since begun. The tanks of the 17th US Airborne Division advanced from Mecklenbeck via Roxel to Nienberge. On April 1st, Nienberge and Hiltrup also came into Allied hands. On the evening of Easter Monday, April 2, 1945, Munster was taken by the American and British armored forces without a fight. The British-American associations, which occupied Münster from several sides, found the old town to be deserted. They had to laboriously cut a path through the rubble. The rubble piled meters high. The city was not only like a rubble desert, it was also almost completely depopulated. After the capture of Münster there was chaos and uncertainty. American paratroopers searched houses and apartments for German soldiers. Many houses went up in flames. Looting, including by the Germans, attacks and acts of revenge by former forced laborers terrified the remaining population. Only after seven days, on April 9th, could a police group be set up again, so that gradually calm returned.

In a bunker on the Hohenzollernring, American officers found the National Socialist Lord Mayor Albert Hillebrand, who was found on duty with his administrative staff. The remaining leadership of the party and the armed forces had already fled Münster. After the Mayor's arrest, Major HS Jackson from England was appointed city commander. Its primary task was the establishment of a new city administration.

The British Army in Munster

On April 17, 1945 all of Westphalia was occupied and became part of the British zone of occupation. The British occupation forces received instructions to form military government detachments, which were essentially based on the structure of the German and Prussian administrative authorities. The city of Münster came under the command of the 317th Military Government Detachment, which was subordinate to Major Jackson and housed in the offices of the Oberfinanzbäsidium.

A general advisory board of twelve to fourteen men should advise the mayor and act as the link to the population. The office of managing mayor was transferred to the former mayor of the city council, Fritz-Carl Peus , who on April 15, 1945 took over the management of the administrative business in an honorary capacity. In mid-June, Karl Zuhorn was appointed full-time senior civil servant of the city by the military government.

Fighting hunger, nakedness and cold, ensuring that the population was supplied with food, clothing and housing were among the most important and vital tasks in the immediate post-war period. According to statistics from May 10, 1945, only about 3.1% of the apartments in Münster were undamaged. Electricity, water and gas were no longer available since the last days of the war because of the severe damage to the municipal power station and the VEW (United Electricity) pipeline.

The supply of food and fuel in particular was still an almost unsolvable problem until the winter of 1945. The food and economy office, which was founded on April 8, had difficulties supplying the population with urgently needed goods. The poor food supply, and indeed the food crisis immediately after the end of the war, increased the risk of epidemics and the susceptibility to diseases in general. After the harvest in autumn 1945 the situation eased a little, but in the spring of 1946 it turned into a serious and protracted crisis, a period of famine that lasted until July 1948.

Problems of the post-war period and reconstruction up to 1965

The destroyed historic town hall shortly before the gable collapsed in 1945

The famine and the appallingly poor health of the population eclipsed all other problems in the city, but the lack of housing could not be remedied immediately. People streamed back into the city center, from which they had been evacuated during the time of the bombing. Despite drastic influx controls, Münster had almost 76,000 inhabitants again on December 31, 1945, which meant a tripling of the numbers recorded immediately after the end of the war. In addition to the evacuees, many refugees and displaced persons came to Münster to find a new home there. In the first years after the end of the war every conceivable dwelling was used - in barracks, cellars, barracks settlements. Only gradually did the situation improve.

Because of constant air raids, many schools in Münster had been closed since July 1, 1943. Then a number of pupils were evacuated to so-called children's country deportation camps in southern Germany, where regular lessons could take place. At the end of the war there were hardly any suitable premises, as 24 schools were completely bombed and four others were badly damaged. The reopening of the schools also depended on the permission of the military government, for which each individual school first had to apply for re-admission. Only after Easter 1946 did all the elementary schools in Münster and the surrounding area start teaching again.

Important stages of recovery from the rubble

With this and similar other locomotives, the rubble was removed from Münster.

In February 1946 there was a flood disaster in the city of Münster, especially in lower-lying areas near the Aa. The reasons for this were days of rain and the pile of debris from the Second World War, which prevented the rainwater from flowing away. In many places it was only possible to get through with boats.

The targeted and organized clearing of the rubble according to a set plan did not begin until May 1946. By November 1946, a total of 13,000 people took part, received the wages of a civil engineering worker and a warm meal for it. Such a clearing operation also took place in the following year 1947, in September 1947, according to the city, 185,000 cubic meters had been cleared. By December 1949, the millionth cubic meter had been cleared, but it was not even half the total. Since 1946, 37 small locomotives with almost 670 rubble trucks have been in use with eight large excavators. After the temporary storage at Hindenburgplatz and the sorting out of usable stones, the remainder was deposited.

On August 23, 1946, Ordinance No. 46, which united the northern Rhine Province with the Province of Westphalia, was published in the Official Gazette of the British Military Government. This is how the state of North Rhine-Westphalia came into being . Düsseldorf , the seat of the British civil commissioner for the Rhineland and Westphalia, was designated the capital of the new state . Münster lost its status as the provincial capital, but remained the administrative seat of the administrative district of Münster and the district of Münster, which is now known as the district . The almost one and a half centuries of belonging to Prussia came to an end, because the Free State of Prussia , which had existed since 1918, was finally smashed and new countries were put in its place.

The front wall of the Friedenssaal

By October 24, 1948 - the 300th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia - the Friedenssaal in the destroyed town hall could already be restored almost true to the original. Prime Minister Karl Arnold was among the guests. For Münster this was the first success in a series of important reconstruction efforts in the post-war years. The next stages should be marked by the cathedral and the town hall.

In the summer of 1949, the implementation plans for the reconstruction of the inner city were drawn up on the basis of the guidelines drawn up by the former city planning officer Heinrich Bartmann . These were then implemented in the following 1950s, with the historical image, including the facades on Prinzipalmarkt and the layout and width of the street, largely restored. This is thanks in particular to the Münster population, who spoke out intensely in favor of a reconstruction true to the original and against a modern rebuilding.

The historic town hall , also in its historic appearance, was completed on October 30, 1958. In order to finance the reconstruction, a “town hall lottery” was organized, among other things, in order to be able to pay the construction costs for the town hall. In November 1949, the association of merchants presented reconstruction plans for the historic town hall and also for the financing of the project, which was approved by the public. Half of the construction costs were financed by the proposed lottery, as many people and organizations donated for it. When the finished town hall was handed over to the city at the end of October 1958, urban patriotism had emerged, which was also evident in the reconstruction of the cathedral, which also took about 10 years. In mid-October 1956, the cathedral in Münster was inaugurated.

From 1959 a festive dinner, the Kramer meal, which ties in with the medieval guild meal of the merchants of Münster, could be held in the ballroom of the town hall. The exchange and contact between business people and guests from the Münster and national economic, administrative, cultural and scientific life is the purpose of the feast organized by the Association of the Münster Merchants. This association was founded in 1835 based on the concept of Johann Hermann Hüffer in response to the dissolution of the guilds and guilds at the beginning of the 19th century. Since its inception, the association has been committed to the further development and attractiveness of the city of Münster under the motto "Ehr ist Dwang gnog" (honor is compulsion enough).

The 1950s also marked a change in the city's transport policy. After the first early as October 1, 1949 O bus -line was opened, these buses replaced shortly after the tram. After more than 50 years, during which it had to be temporarily shut down in 1922 due to high inflation and the severe destruction in World War II , the last tram passed through Münster on November 25, 1954. The time of the trolleybuses was only to last until May 25, 1968, when they were replaced by omnibuses .

Proud of the reconstruction work

The newly designed simple westwork of the cathedral was very controversial
The City Theater 2005

In the mid-1960s, it was no longer immediately obvious that the war had destroyed a great deal. During the period of reconstruction, modern urban planning had no chance, because for most of the people of Münster it was a matter of course to rebuild their houses in the old forms. There were already some modern public buildings, but there weren't many that set the tone: the Federal Railway Directorate, the Chamber of Agriculture , the Pedagogical University and especially the city ​​theater . This first new German theater building was praised as a great architectural achievement.

At that time there were also protests against unpleasant plans and architectural achievements. The simple westwork of the cathedral was rejected and the demolition and reconstruction of the building of the government of the Münster district on Domplatz was very controversial. However, the controversial exterior of the building was later made more appealing. In the maelstrom of protests in the 1960s, plans for building on Domplatz got lost. At the beginning of May 1965, the city council rejected all plans.

Federal Chancellor Ludwig Erhard was in Münster on August 31, 1965 during his federal election campaign and gave a speech on Domplatz. That year he had declared the post-war period to be over and received great approval from the people of Münster when he referred to the great efforts of the German people after 1945. Another event on September 9, 1965 made it clear that the first major phase of the post-war period was over for Münster: the motorway to Münster on the Kamen - Bremen route, the so-called "Hansalinie", was opened. In the autumn of 1968 the entire route was finished. In the mid-1960s, Münster was one of the last major German cities to be connected to the German motorway network. This was a symbolic step, but it also had major consequences for the further development of the city.

Incorporation and further development to a modern metropolis until the turn of 1989/90

New housing estates and incorporations

Memorial plaque for the incorporation of Amelsbüren

The city finally said goodbye to its former status as provincial capital at the end of the 1960s and developed into a modern city; In 1966 the population already exceeded the 200,000 mark. The housing shortage that has accompanied Münster since 1945 forced the construction of new housing estates: The Coerde district was created and 6000 apartments for 15,000 residents were built in the children's home. In Berg Fidel, too, 1,230 apartments were built, for which the foundation stone was laid at the end of 1969. Major plans by the state government to build a major airport near Munster came to nothing, and the location of the particle accelerator did not go to Westphalia, but to Switzerland.

But the territorial reform - the most important concept for the future - was implemented. In the course of the municipal reform of 1975, the Münster district was dissolved on January 1st of this year under the Münster / Hamm Act . At the same time, parts of the former district were incorporated into the city of Münster despite resistance. These were the communities of Sankt Mauritz, Handorf , Hiltrup , Amelsbüren , Albachten , Nienberge , Roxel , Angelmodde and Wolbeck . As a result, the population rose by 57,431 overnight. The area of ​​the urban area increased by 228.4 km² to 302.79 km², which corresponds to a quadrupled area of ​​the previous area. After that, building activity began in the newly designated suburbs, because young families in particular were able to settle there. A positive consequence of this territorial reform, which made Münster the second largest municipality in North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, was the possibility of a diverse range of business and industry settlements.

University and clinic expansion

Section of the university from above, 2014

The university, which was quickly rebuilt after 1945, reached its limits in the mid-1960s. It slowly developed into the city's largest employer. In 1951 it had 1,600 employees, in 1981 it was almost 7,000. In 1974, the Münster university location - including the college of education (then integrated into the university in 1980) and the technical college founded in 1971 - had 30,000 students; in 1981 the number of students at the university alone was around 40,000 . The university and the city were not prepared for this onslaught, there was a lack of student accommodation. It wasn't until 1959 that the first large dormitories were built on Steinfurter Strasse. The 1970s saw progress with student accommodation. In 1974, for example, several hundred apartments in Boeselagerstraße could be moved into. There were other accommodations on the Horstmarer Landweg and in Gievenbeck.

University Hospital from above, 2014
Art Academy on the Leonardo Campus

In 1971, after eight years of planning (sometimes interrupted), the large hospital was tackled; it was to cost 560 million marks. In 1982/83 the towering complex was put into operation; it developed into the most important clinic in the greater region. In the final bill it cost 1.13 billion marks, although not even all medical facilities could be accommodated. Other disciplines, such as general and visceral surgery, trauma surgery, the eye clinic, the ear, nose and throat clinic and the dermatology clinic, and in particular research laboratories, are located in separate buildings on the campus surrounding the central clinic. In 1979 the dental clinic, which is one of the largest in Germany, received a new building. The University Hospital Münster (UKM) is a hospital of maximum care and has 1,457 beds in which a total of 64,196 inpatients and 462,786 outpatients were treated in the 2016th It consists of over 40 individual clinics and polyclinics that work closely with the Medical Faculty of the Westphalian Wilhelms University of Münster . It has more than 10,000 employees, including professors, other doctors and scientists, nurses as well as medical-technical employees, gardeners and computer scientists. The UKM campus is located in the Sentrup district .

The Leonardo Campus is a former barracks area on Steinfurter Straße in Münster , which was converted into a university area in a conversion process that lasted from 1999 to 2009 . While maintaining the listed building stock of the former Reiterkaserne (before 1945 it was called Von Eine-Kavallerie-Kaserne ) and adding new buildings, space was created for the expansion of the Westphalian Wilhelms University (WWU), the University of Applied Sciences and the Münster Art Academy . This conversion is just one example of a series of similar conversions from previously military to civil use.

Transport policy

In 1981 the connection to the Autobahn 43 was opened, which replaced the heavily congested section of the federal highway 51 between Münster and Bochum . In addition to road traffic, air traffic was also expanded. Together with the cities of Osnabrück and Greven and the districts of Münster and Tecklenburg , Münster / Osnabrück Airport was opened on May 27, 1972 . In 1986, what was previously a regional airport was upgraded to an international airport.

Shopping on the Prinzipalmarkt in 2016

But private transport was also affected by transport policy. With the beginning of the economic upswing, there was a sharp increase in traffic in the city center, especially on the main shopping streets Prinzipalmarkt , Ludgeristraße and Salzstraße . First of all, the latter two were traffic-calmed . In 1959 discussions arose about converting the Prinzipalmarkt into a traffic-calmed zone. However, it was not until 1974 that traffic was calmed down here as well. Five years earlier, in 1969, the already traffic-calmed Ludgeristraße was converted into a pedestrian zone , followed by Salzstraße in 1977. The Prinzipalmarkt, however, is still a traffic-calmed zone that motorized vehicles may only be used in certain exceptional cases.

Sign of modernity

Paul Wulf sculpture in front of the “Iduna high-rise” - most popular sculpture from 2007

On April 29, 1972, the first gay demonstration in the Federal Republic of Germany took place in Münster . For the next few years, Münster remained the most important center of the West German gay and lesbian movement alongside West Berlin . In 1979 and 1988 the lesbian spring meeting took place in Münster, and at that time it was still the lesbian Pentecost meeting.

From July 3 to November 13, 1977, the art event Sculpture Projects took place in Münster for the first time , at which international artists can present their in situ sculptures to the interested public in public space. Since then, the exhibition has taken place every ten years. Many of the works of art were bought up by the city of Münster following the respective sculpture projects and today enrich the cityscape. The exhibition is sponsored by the City of Münster and the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe , the organization is the responsibility of the LWL Museum for Art and Culture . There is a huge crowd: the last sculpture project to date came in 2017 again with many thousands of visitors Template: future / in 5 years.

Catholic Church

The St. Mauritz Church is the oldest partially preserved church in Münster

In January 1980, Bishop Tenhumberg was followed by the young auxiliary bishop Reinhard Lettmann , who held office until 2008. The popular shepherd showed a keen eye for the changes in church and society. Confronted with the facts of dwindling church affiliation, high numbers of people leaving the church and demographic change, he introduced structural reforms. Despite violent protests, there were community mergers. This hit the districts particularly hard, which were only founded after the war, at the time of Bishop Keller , through the division of large parishes . Nevertheless, the church in Münster, in which 65 percent of the Catholics were still counted in 1989, continued to have a strong institutional representation; 5 large hospitals, 19 old people's homes, 48 ​​kindergartens, three high schools, a special needs school, a comprehensive school, a further education college, a vocational college and a technical college were owned by the church. This makes the Catholic Church one of the largest employers in Münster. After thinking about the foundation of the diocese 1200 years ago in 2005, the church of Münster commemorated the consecration of the cathedral 750 years ago in 2014.

In May 1987, John Paul II was the first Pope to visit Münster. He spoke on the Schlossplatz in front of the Prince- Bishop 's Palace and on the Cathedral Square and prayed at the grave of Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen . The Pope stayed one night in the seminary , where the Regens cleared his apartment for John Paul. A bronze plaque in front of the grave of Galens in Münster's cathedral commemorates the visit of the Pope. The next Pope Benedict XVI. was connected to Münster, he had taught dogmatics here as a young professor Joseph Ratzinger from 1963–1966 before he accepted a call to Tübingen.

Münster in the Berlin republic after reunification

In the 1990s, the city, which in 1993 commemorated and celebrated the 1200th anniversary of its founding, was seized by a spirit of optimism. The change reached many areas, for example familiar institutions such as the Oberpostdirektion or the Westdeutsche Landesbank also disappeared. The Bundeswehr and the British Army on the Rhine made themselves scarce in the city. The building up generation, shaped by an emotional relationship with their city, died, and the younger generation thought differently about many things and decided differently than their forefathers would have done.

A new era

On June 18, 1990, preparatory meetings for the so-called 2 + 4 discussions took place in the town hall. During these talks, which paved the way to reunification , the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany , Hans-Dietrich Genscher , met his counterpart from the USSR , Eduard Shevardnadze , among others in Munster . Genscher chose a meeting point that was supposed to convey forward-looking symbolism moving from history . His choice fell on Münster, since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 granted the German princes and imperial estates the right to make pacts with foreign states themselves. A picture that went around the world shows Genscher and Shevardnadze drinking from the city's golden rooster, the city's symbolic cup of peace.

The Villa ten Hompel on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring

Since the turnaround and reunification of the two German states (1989/90), it has also been possible to convert former military installations, barracks and residential buildings that were used by the British Army on the Rhine and abandoned after 1990. 19 conversion projects with very different purposes were successfully implemented by 2017. This conversion of military installations continues and will lead to new residential areas.

In the election for mayor in 1994, Marion Tüns ( SPD ) prevailed against the male competition. Almost exactly 1200 years after Münster was founded, it was the first time that a woman was at the helm of the city. However, their term of office only lasted one legislative period and ended in 1999.

Villa ten Hompel was reopened on December 13, 1999 . After the Ordnungspolizei (Order Police) and from 1953 to 1968 the "Department for Reparation for Politically, Racially and Religiously Persecuted" were housed in this historic building during the Nazi era between 1940 and 1945, it has been a memorial to National Socialism in Germany since that date, which enables an examination of this period through various exhibitions and events as well as independent research in the library's holdings with historical primary and academic secondary literature.

The first decades of the 21st century

Principal market in November 2005
The diocesan library next to the Ludgerihaus

Probably the most popular event in Münster's history took place on May 12, 2002: the first stage of the Giro d'Italia cycle race , which ended in Münster, drew up to 200,000 people into the city center. Three and a half laps were driven through the historic city center, a total of 18 kilometers, including cobblestones .

On November 25, 2005, there was a "historic" onset of winter in Münster and the western Münsterland , the so-called Münsterland snow chaos . Up to 32 cm of snow fell in Münster during the day. This amount was the highest that has been measured since the city's meteorological weather records began in 1888 and exceeded the previous maximum of 30 cm from 1925. In contrast to many surrounding communities, the city of Münster itself was only briefly and in parts of power outages affected. However, due to the snow and ice masses, most of the traffic collapsed. Rail traffic had to be stopped, and numerous travelers were stuck in Münster and had to spend the night in hotels or in an air raid shelter under the main train station . There were also disabilities in local public transport. The regional bus routes were largely affected by this, with the city bus routes running until 10 p.m. In the course of the following day, the situation in the urban area normalized again and there were only isolated disabilities.

A good year later, on the evening of January 18, 2007 and the following night, the hurricane low Kyrill caused chaotic conditions in Münster. In the outskirts, there were repeated blackouts due to damaged power lines. Several main roads such as Schlossplatz or Weseler Straße were blocked by falling trees and had to be closed to traffic. This also affected the city bus routes operated by the Stadtwerke, which had to stop operating by midnight at the latest. Rail traffic also had to be stopped in the late afternoon because the overhead lines on all lines to Münster were damaged. As in 2005, the fire brigade opened the air raid shelter in the main station for trapped travelers and put both fire engines of the professional fire brigade and all 20 trains of the volunteer fire brigade on alert. Together with the technical relief organization , it registered 940 emergency calls, the police received 323 emergency calls. In total, more than 1000 trees within the urban area fell victim to the hurricane, which caused damage amounting to millions. The area around the castle was particularly affected , where around 40 trees on the castle square and around 50 trees in the castle garden buckled or were uprooted by direct action of the wind.

On May 25, 2009, the city received the title “ Place of Diversity ” awarded by the federal government .

On March 21, 2012, against the background of the controversial role of Paul von Hindenburg as “ Adolf Hitler's stirrup holder” , the council of the city of Münster decided with 53 votes against 23 to rename Hindenburgplatz in front of the Prince Bishop's Palace to Schlossplatz . Half a year later, a referendum with the aim of reversing this decision failed . As early as 2007 - also in a referendum - the city's plans to build a city ​​music hall on Schlossplatz had failed .

Protest march of the workforce against the threatened sale of the Provincial

At the end of 2012, plans were struck through the Financial Times Deutschland that the savings banks, led by their President Rolf Gerlach and LWL , wanted to sell their shares in the second largest public insurer in Germany, Provinzial NordWest , to Allianz . Workers and trade unions fought against the threat of privatization, which caused massive job cuts at the Münster location, with campaigns throughout the Münsterland. The solidarity of broad sections of the population with “their” provincial officials led local and state politicians to speak out against a takeover by the alliance. Under this pressure, the owners finally gave in.

Construction of the LWL Museum for Art and Culture

At the end of July 2014, there was a severe weather situation in Münster and the surrounding area with the most violent thunderstorms in recent years. Especially on July 28th and 29th, several strong thunderstorms passed one after the other over the same area. The amount of rain that fell in Münster was an event of the century . A station of the State Environment Agency reported an amount of 292 l / m² within seven hours; otherwise there is an average of around 69 l / m² throughout July. Countless streets and cellars were flooded, one person died in his flooded cellar. The city of Münster expects damage of 15 to 20 million euros to urban buildings and infrastructure alone.

A few weeks later, on September 20, 2014, the new building for the LWL Museum for Art and Culture between Domplatz and Aegidiimarkt was reopened after several years of construction. On April 7, 2018, the city of Münster went amok, killing two passers-by and the gunman.

History of municipal self-government

The new center north

At the top of the city, there has been evidence of a municipal council since it was granted city rights in the 12th century . It consisted of twelve collegiate aldermen and the councilors. Heads were "Schöffenmeister", later "Scheppenmester" or "borgemester", until the 16th century exclusively from hereditary families . Since the 14th century there have been regular "borgemester" and "raeth" or "borgemester" and "scheppen". From the 15th century the council was elected on the first Monday of Lent , and from 1542 on the Tuesday after January 17th. The number of members of the council was 24 members from 1654, 20 members from 1670 and 14 members from 1682. In the course of history the council election was overturned several times, especially during the time of the Anabaptist rule .

After the abolition of the Münster bishopric in 1802, the council election was initially retained under Prussian rule, but from 1805 it was replaced by an appointed, permanent magistrate's college. The city manager, two mayors and a chamberlain then headed the city.

Under Napoleonic rule, the French municipal constitution was introduced from 1809 with a mayor and three aldermen at the head. After the Congress of Vienna , Münster came under the rule of Prussia again in 1815 and the head of the city was again called mayor or lord mayor (finally from 1836 with the introduction of the Prussian town order). The Lord Mayor was the chairman of the magistrate, which also included councilors and city councilors.

During the time of National Socialism , the Lord Mayor was appointed by the NSDAP . This was Albert Anton Hillebrand from 1933 until the capture of the city by American and British troops in 1945. After World War II , the military government of the British Occupation Zone deposed him and Major H. S. Jackson took office until a new city council was established. Under his control, Münster became the 317th Military Government Detachment, a military government that was essentially to be oriented towards the structure of the German or Prussian administration. First Lord Mayor after the Second World War was Fritz Carl Peus on April 15, 1945, but only temporarily, until Karl Zuhorn was appointed acting Lord Mayor by the military government in mid-June . An advisory board of twelve to 14 men should be at his side in an advisory capacity.

In 1946 the local constitution was introduced based on the British model. Then there was a “city council” elected by the people, whose members are known as “city councilors”. The council initially elected the mayor from among its members as chairman and representative of the city, who was active on a voluntary basis. Furthermore, from 1946 the council also elected a full-time senior city director as head of the city administration. 1997 the dual leadership in the city administration was given up. Since then there has only been the full-time mayor. He is chairman of the council, head of the city administration and representative of the city. He was elected directly by the people for the first time in 1999.


  • Bernd Haunfelder : Münster. Illustrated city history . Aschendorff, Münster 2015, 212 pp., ISBN 978-3-402-13145-9 .
  • Michael Römling: Münster - history of a city . Soest 2006. ISBN 978-3-9810710-1-6 .
  • City Museum Münster, Association Münster-Museum e. V. (Hrsg.): History of the city of Münster. Munster 2006.
  • Franz-Josef Jakobi (ed.): History of the city of Münster. 3. Edition. Aschendorff, Münster 1994, 3 volumes, ISBN 3-402-05370-5 .
  • Ulrich Bardelmeier and Andreas Schulte Hemming (eds.): Myth Munster. Black holes, white spots . Unrast, Münster 1993. ISBN 3-928300-15-6 .

Web links

Commons : History of the City of Münster  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Münster (Westphalia)  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Tacitus: Germania, 33
  2. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Droysens-21.jpg .
  3. Franz-Josef Jacobi (Ed.): History of the City of Münster , 3rd edition, p. 240; Wilderich von Droste zu Hülshoff : 900 years Droste zu Hülshoff , Horben 2018, p. 83
  4. ^ Manfred Görtemaker: Germany in the 19th century. Lines of development. Opladen 1983, p. 279.
  5. ^ Bernd Haunfelder: Münster. Illustrated city history . Aschendorff, Münster 2015, ISBN 978-3-402-13145-9 . P. 94
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  7. a b Hitler in Münster ( Memento from October 8, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) - Article about the rise of the NSDAP in Münster
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  9. Memorial plaque in memory of the Holocaust in Münster at the location of the former Gertrudenhof on Warendorfer Strasse
  10. Balance of the war. In: Internet portal "Kriegschronik". Münster City Archives, accessed on September 25, 2019 .
  11. ^ Bernd Haunfelder: Münster. Illustrated city history. Aschendorff, Münster 2015, pp. 129/130.
  12. Peter Löffler (Ed.): Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen - files, letters and sermons 1933-1946. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich, 2nd edition 1996, ISBN 3-506-79840-5 , pp. 901, 902.
  13. Gottfried Hasenkamp: The Cardinal - Deeds and Days of the Bishop of Munster Clemens August Graf von Galen. Aschendorff, Münster, 2nd edition 1985, ISBN 3-402-05126-5 , pp. 16-17.
  14. ^ Rudolf Morsey: Clemens August Cardinal von Galen - Episcopal activity in the time of Hitler's rule. State Center for Political Education, Düsseldorf 1987, p. 9.
  15. ^ Marie-Corentine Sandstede-Auzelle, Gerd Sandstede: Clemens August Graf von Galen. Bishop of Munster in the Third Reich. Aschendorff, Münster 1986, ISBN 3-402-03267-8 , pp. 2-3.
  16. ^ City history 1900 to 1945. In: muenster.de. Münster Marketing, accessed on September 25, 2019 .
  17. a b c d e Westfälische Nachrichten : Still duds in the Aatal: Allied bombers targeted the flak position on the outskirts of Mecklenbeck during World War II , Münster / surroundings, January 3, 2013
  18. bombs. Recent alarms. In: Internet portal "Kriegschronik". Münster City Archives, accessed on September 25, 2019 .
  19. ^ Helmut Müller: five to zero - the occupation of the Münsterland 1945 , Münster 1972, page 115
  20. Stadtmuseum Münster, History of the City of Münster , Münster 2006, page 270
  21. ^ Marco Krings: Rubble locomotive in Münster. July 12, 2014, accessed September 25, 2019 .
  22. War balance sheet ( War Chronicle, Münster in the Second World War (Münster City Archives))
  23. ↑ End of the war and a new beginning in Münster Kriegschronik, Münster during World War II (Münster City Archives)
  24. ^ Resistance "to the last breath": The incorporation of 1975. Retrieved on November 17, 2009 .
  25. ^ Referendum in Münster - Schlossplatz remains Schlossplatz. In: Spiegel-Online. September 16, 2012, accessed September 25, 2019 .
  26. Severe weather in Germany at the end of July 2014 - extreme rain in Münster. In: unwetterzentrale.de. August 2014, accessed September 25, 2019 .
  27. City of Münster expects damage costs of 15 to 20 million euros. Press release. In: muenster.de. Press and Information Office of the City of Münster, August 7, 2014, accessed on September 25, 2019 .
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on February 25, 2006 in this version .