Greater Hamburg Law

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Law on Greater Hamburg and other territorial adjustments of January 26, 1937
The map shows the
  • previous city of Hamburg
  • previous city of Bergedorf (to the state of Hamburg since 1868)
  • previous, remaining Hamburg rural areas
  • added city of Altona
  • added city of Wandsbek
  • added city of Harburg-Wilhelmsburg
  • added rural communities
  • Ritzebüttel exclave (Cuxhaven) 1394–1937

    The law on Greater Hamburg and other territorial clearances (Greater Hamburg Law) was a law enacted by Hitler's Reich government on January 26, 1937 with effect from April 1, 1937, through which the previous state territory of Hamburg to economically important areas from the neighboring Prussian counties and independent cities was expanded. These included the cities of Altona and Wandsbek in the province of Schleswig-Holstein and Harburg-Wilhelmsburg in the province of Hanover , which became part of the unified municipality of Hamburg on April 1, 1938 and lost their independence together with the Hamburg city of Bergedorf . In return, Hamburg ceded the area of ​​the former Ritzebüttel estate with its islands of Scharhörn and Neuwerk as well as the areas around Cuxhaven and other smaller Hamburg exclaves to Prussia. Overall, the area of ​​Hamburg increased from 415 to 745  square kilometers , the population increased from 1.19 to 1.68 million. In the next step, the “Law on the Constitution and Administration of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg” of December 9, 1937 (HVVG) repealed the Hamburg Constitution and in the Gau Hamburg the independence of the Hanseatic city was completely subordinated to the interests of the Reich.

    Border stone between Altona and Hamburg from 1896, which is still paved today in Brigittenstrasse, now in the St. Pauli district.

    The law also regulated a number of other changes to the area, especially in northern Germany. Lübeck lost its 711 year old territorial independence and became part of the province of Schleswig-Holstein. A number of exclaves in the border area between Mecklenburg and Prussia were eliminated, including the Ratzeburg cathedral courtyard . The Free State of Oldenburg ceded its part of Lübeck as the District of Eutin to the Province of Schleswig-Holstein. The Prussian city of Wilhelmshaven came to Oldenburg. The Oldenburg region of Birkenfeld became the Birkenfeld district in the Rhine Province .

    Conclusion of the law

    In the course of industrialization at the beginning of the 20th century, there was pronounced competition between the Hanseatic city of Hamburg and the neighboring Prussian cities of Altona, Wandsbek and Harburg. The first talks between Hamburg and Prussia had already taken place since 1922, after the Hamburg Senate in 1915 and 1921 sent "Memoranda on the expansion of the Hamburg area" to the Reich government in Berlin and the Lord Mayors of Altona ( Schnackenburg ) and Wandsbek ( Rodig ) several times in favor of joining Hamburg. After the failure of the negotiations, Prussia operated on July 1, 1927 to strengthen Altona and Wandsbek through incorporations. At the same time, Harburg and Wilhelmsburg merged to form the city of Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, and the large communities of Lokstedt , Rahlstedt and Billstedt emerged .

    The Prussian-Hamburg port agreement of December 22, 1928 made cargo handling in the ports of Altona, Hamburg and Harburg-Wilhelmsburg much easier.

    After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, Carl Wilhelm Petersen was forced to resign on March 5th. The regional consolidation of economic centers in the Nazi state immediately gained a new meaning in the sense of a four-year plan , but at the expense of the autonomy of the cities involved.

    On the basis of the Reich Governor Law of April 7, 1933, Hermann Göring was appointed Prime Minister of Prussia on April 10, 1933 and Karl Kaufmann was appointed Reich Governor of Hamburg on May 16, 1933. From May 18, 1933, Carl Vincent Krogmann represented the Hamburg Senate as Governing Mayor, a function that was controlled by the Reich Governor.

    On the basis of the second Reich Governor Act of January 30, 1935, the Senate had become inoperative, and on July 29, 1936, Adolf Hitler transferred the sole leadership of the now mayorless Hamburg state government to Reich Governor Karl Kaufmann. This in turn demoted Krogmann on July 30, 1936 to the head of the municipal administration. Already in November 1936 there was a meeting between Göring, Kaufmann and Krogmann because of administrative border problems between Prussia and Hamburg. Hermann Göring, who was also the commissioner for the four-year plan, gave Kaufmann certain authority over his Prussian offices to claim Prussian territories bordering Hamburg for a future Greater Hamburg.

    On January 26, 1937, the Greater Hamburg Law was passed. This law expanded Hamburg with effect from April 1, 1937 to include the previously Prussian cities of Altona, Harburg-Wilhelmsburg and Wandsbek as well as 27 communities and two districts from the districts of Stormarn , Pinneberg , Duchy of Lauenburg , Harburg and Stade .

    After a twelve-month transition phase during which persisted the individual towns and cities, was on 1 April 1938 in Article 1 of the Greater Hamburg Act previously announced Reich Law on the Constitution and Administration of the City of Hamburg from the entire Land of Hamburg, unified community Hanseatic City Hamburg formed. At the same time, this law suspended the Hamburg constitution. Both laws were co-signed by Hermann Göring as Prussian Prime Minister.

    In order to implement the Greater Hamburg Act, eight implementing ordinances were issued between February 15, 1937 and May 24, 1939.

    In the fourth, Hamburg secured extensive rights to the port facilities in Cuxhaven ( Amerika-Hafen , Steubenhöft ) and other areas near the shore for the possible construction of a Hamburg outer port in the Elbe estuary.

    Area changes in Hamburg on April 1, 1937

    Political borders in Northern Germany at the beginning of the 20th century

    Territory gains in Hamburg

    To the state of Hamburg came in detail

    All cities and communities mentioned were merged with the city of Hamburg and the communities remaining with the state of Hamburg on April 1, 1938 to form a unified community, which was called the Hanseatic City of Hamburg .

    Assignment of territory to Hamburg

    In exchange for this, the Hamburg enclaves went to Prussia

    With this exception in the fourth implementing regulation for the Greater Hamburg Act of March 22, 1937, Hamburg secured the America port in the Cuxhaven urban area as an exclave.

    Further area changes

    Schleswig-Holstein and Oldenburg

    With the Greater Hamburg Law, the Oldenburg State of Lübeck (the former Principality of Lübeck) also lost its independence and became part of the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein as the Eutin district .

    The Prussian town of Wilhelmshaven and the Oldenburg town of Rüstringen were combined to form the Oldenburg town of Wilhelmshaven.

    The far south location Oldenburg exclave part of the country Birkenfeld (at the close ) passed to Prussia, which it under the name Birkenfeld district of the Rhine Province angliederte and the spiral Baumholder rest Circle St. united. After the Second World War , 18 municipalities in the southern district of Birkenfeld were annexed to Saarland by order No. 8 of the French military government of July 18, 1946 . Otherwise, the district fell to the newly formed state of Rhineland-Palatinate on August 30, 1946 .

    The Mecklenburg-Strelitz enclaves in Schleswig-Holstein such as the Domhof in Ratzeburg and some communities were integrated into the Duchy of Lauenburg . The previously independent communities Schulendorf, Bartelsdorf and Franzhagen were combined to form a political community Schulendorf in the Duchy of Lauenburg.

    The Lübeck exclaves in Schleswig-Holstein became part of the Eutin and Duchy of Lauenburg districts.


    Mecklenburg received the Lübeck exclaves there in exchange for its exclaves in the Duchy of Lauenburg in Schleswig-Holstein.

    Several changes to the area in the south and east of Mecklenburg were also regulated in the Greater Hamburg Act. Mecklenburg ceded its exclaves Schönberg , Rossow and Netzeband to Prussia. In return it received an enclave belonging to Prussia around Duckow , Zettemin and Rottmannshagen . The two small towns of Groß Menow and Quasliner Mühle also came to Mecklenburg. Especially in the Templin area , some lakes changed their nationality.

    Administrative division within the state of Hamburg

    Hamburg's internal structure from 1938/39

    Hamburg's internal structure has undergone numerous changes since 1937 :

    1. from April 1, 1937 to March 31, 1938: the five independent cities of Hamburg, Altona, Harburg-Wilhelmsburg, Wandsbek and Bergedorf, as well as the old Hamburg rural area and the new Hamburg district , which was formed from the 27 former Prussian communities
    2. from April 1, 1938 to March 31, 1939: Subdivision into a city and a rural district
    3. from April 1, 1939 to November 14, 1943: Division into ten administrative districts, five of which belonged exclusively to the city district, the other five belonged partly to the city and partly to the district of Hamburg. These were divided into a total of 110 districts with 178 districts. In mid-1943 the entire municipal infrastructure collapsed due to the war
    4. from November 15, 1943 to May 10, 1951: Division into six districts , which were divided into a total of 23  local offices .
    5. from May 11, 1951 to January 31, 2007: seven districts with seven core areas and 15 local authority areas

    In addition, in this context there was a change in the district boundaries, which were essentially aligned with the boundaries between the NSDAP districts; as an example, reference is made to the "area swap" between Altona old town with the loss of the eastern areas up to the Große Freiheit and on the shoulder blade , and Sankt Pauli with the loss of the areas around Pinnasberg and the St. Pauli Church .


    Hamburg operated the fishing port of Cuxhaven until 1937 and had that of the Prussian Altona right outside the door. This was reversed when it took over the Altona fishing port and Prussia took over the Cuxhaven, which, however, was limited by the remaining Hamburg port area in Cuxhaven. The fishing industry experienced a significant boom after the war. As a result, Lower Saxony initiated talks from 1948 on expanding the fishing port to include areas in Hamburg that were to be ceded. Concrete negotiations did not take place until 1955, however, as there was a complex field of developments and interests: the considerable increase in fishing and regular services to America, the federal government's existing building rights and Hamburg's outer port plans. The latter were also the background for the fourth implementing regulation. During this time there were considerable tensions between Cuxhaven and Hamburg. With the ever increasing draft of the super tankers , Hamburg's interest in an outer port also increased, for which the Cuxhaven areas seemed less and less suitable. In 1960 the ideas for the outer harbor were concretized for the approximately 5000 ha large mudflat area Scharhörn / Neuwerk. As a result, Hamburg and Lower Saxony signed a state treaty ( Cuxhaven Treaty ) to exchange port rights and the Scharhörn-Neuwerker Watt in 1961 .

    Revision efforts

    After 1945 there were serious attempts to at least partially revise the consequences of the law and to secure greater autonomy for the formerly independent cities . Such demands were particularly loud in Harburg and Altona and were extremely popular there. They also coincided with the goals of the British occupying power for greater decentralization. A committee made up of local and Hamburg party and trade union representatives was set up for Harburg in the summer of 1946 in order to clarify the relevant issues.

    After the first state elections on October 13, 1946 , this question faded into the background for the Senate, primarily under the announcement that all efforts had to be concentrated in order to rebuild and improve living conditions in the bombed city .

    In this context, reference should be made to the ambivalent attitude of the former mayors Walter Dudek from Harburg and Max Brauer from Altona, who, in their new role in the Hamburg Senate, took a position on this issue that was opposite to their previous one. Altona's later district manager August Kirch, however, still campaigned in 1950 to restore at least the historical border between Altona and Hamburg.

    In view of the minimal regional independence due to the constitutional structure of the unified municipality of Hamburg , wishes for more extensive autonomy, especially in Harburg and Altona, have met with noteworthy approval locally up to the present. Today, for example, there is still the Harburg voter community and the Altonaer Freiheit initiative , which advocate greater autonomy for the districts.

    The attempt to restore Lübeck's statehood failed in 1956 before the Federal Constitutional Court with the Lübeck judgment .

    See also


    Web links

    Commons : Greater Hamburg Act  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. a b c Law on Greater Hamburg and Other Area Adjustments, Art. 1 (RGBl. 1937 I p. 91). In: January 26, 1937. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    2. private page with a historical outline of the Greater Hamburg Law
    3. Second law for the alignment of the states with the Reich (Reichsstatthaltergesetz), § 5 (RGBl. 1933 I p. 173). In: April 7, 1933, Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    4. ^ Second Reich Governor Law, §§ 4 and 10 (RGBl. 1935 I p. 65). In: January 30, 1935. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    5. Hamburg and its poor neighbor. Die Welt , February 20, 2011, accessed May 12, 2014 .
    6. ^ Reich Law on the Constitution and Administration of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Art. 1 and 2 (RGBl. 1937 I p. 1327). In: December 9, 1937. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    7. a b First implementing ordinance for the law on Greater Hamburg and other area consolidations. In: February 15, 1937, accessed January 11, 2019 .
    8. a b Second implementing ordinance to the law on Greater Hamburg and other area consolidations. In: March 11, 1937, accessed January 11, 2019 .
    9. Third implementing ordinance to the law on Greater Hamburg and other area consolidations. In: March 13, 1937, accessed January 11, 2019 .
    10. a b Fourth implementing regulation for the law on Greater Hamburg and other area consolidations. In: March 22, 1937. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    11. ^ Fifth implementing ordinance to the law on Greater Hamburg and other area consolidations. In: June 22, 1937. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    12. Sixth implementing ordinance to the law on Greater Hamburg and other territorial adjustments. In: February 13, 1938. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    13. Seventh implementing ordinance to the law on Greater Hamburg and other territorial adjustments. In: August 4, 1939. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    14. Eighth implementing regulation for the law on Greater Hamburg and other area consolidations. In: September 2, 1939, accessed January 11, 2019 .
    15. ElbVwHHmbV - Ordinance on the administration of the Elbe and other imperial waterways by the Hanseatic City of Hamburg. In: December 21, 1938. Retrieved January 11, 2019 .
    16. The Prussian community Finkenwerder comprised the southern part of the Elbe island Finkenwerder; the northern part had belonged to Hamburg since 1445.
    17. ^ Prussian enclave within Kirchwerder, which already belongs to Hamburg.
    18. Michael Rademacher: German administrative history from the unification of the empire in 1871 to reunification in 1990. Administrative structure of the Land of Hamburg April 1, 1937 - March 31, 1938. (Online material for the dissertation, Osnabrück 2006).
    19. ^ Uwe Lohalm: Hamburg's administrative structure and public service in the Third Reich
    20. Hans Laucht: Scharhörn port project - A plan in the mirror of the time (1948–1980) , self-published, Aumühle, pp. 22–46