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coat of arms Germany map
Coat of arms of the municipality of Rhauderfehn
Map of Germany, position of the municipality Rhauderfehn highlighted

Coordinates: 53 ° 9 '  N , 7 ° 33'  E

Basic data
State : Lower Saxony
County : Empty
Height : 1 m above sea level NHN
Area : 102.93 km 2
Residents: 18,212 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density : 177 inhabitants per km 2
Postal code : 26817
Primaries : 04952, 04967 , 04955Template: Infobox municipality in Germany / maintenance / area code contains text
License plate : LER
Community key : 03 4 57 018
Community structure: 10 districts
Address of the
municipal administration:
1. Südwieke 2a
26817 Rhauderfehn
Website : www.rhauderfehn.de
Mayor : Geert Müller
Location of the municipality of Rhauderfehn in the district of Leer
Borkum Lütje Horn (gemeindefrei) Bunde Weener Westoverledingen Rhauderfehn Leer (Ostfriesland) Ostrhauderfehn Detern Jemgum Moormerland Nortmoor Brinkum Neukamperfehn Holtland Firrel Schwerinsdorf Filsum Uplengen Hesel Landkreis Leer Landkreis Leer (Borkum) Niedersachsen Landkreis Emsland Königreich der Niederlande Emden Landkreis Aurich Landkreis Wittmund Landkreis Friesland Landkreis Ammerland Landkreis Cloppenburgmap
About this picture

Rhauderfehn is a municipality in the East Frisian district of Leer in Lower Saxony . The seat of the municipal administration is in Westrhauderfehn . With 18,212 inhabitants, it is the fourth largest municipality in the district of Leer. These are spread over around 103 square kilometers. The politically independent municipality of Ostrhauderfehn , also in the district of Leer, does not belong to Rhauderfehn .

The name of the community comes from the fen settlement of the same name, founded in 1769 , which in turn is named after the old Geestdorf Rhaude in the northwest of the community area. Next to Rhaude, Backemoor and Collinghorst are the oldest districts. Large parts of the municipality were reclaimed by moor colonists in the 18th and 19th centuries. The district of Klostermoor, on the other hand, was only fully developed as part of the Emsland Plan from 1951. This makes Rhauderfehn the only East Frisian municipality that was involved in the Emsland Plan.

Economically, Rhauderfehn is characterized by agriculture, tourism and a few industrial companies, including a manufacturer of zippers ( Opti ). The municipality is clearly a commuter community.

Rhauderfehn has three medieval churches. Other historical buildings include windmills and a large number of bascule bridges over the Fehn canals.


Position and extent

Rhauderfehn is located in the south of the district of Leer. The district Klostermoor is the southernmost village in East Friesland; its boundary forms the southernmost point of this region. The neighboring region of Emsland extends south of the municipality . Rhauderfehn, together with its eastern and western neighboring communities, Ostrhauderfehn and Westoverledingen, forms the Overledingerland , one of the four historical regions in the area of ​​today's district of Leer. The other three are the Moormerland , the Lengenerland and the Rheiderland .

The municipal area is significantly larger in the north-south direction than in the east-west direction. The largest extension in north-south direction is around 20.5 km, in contrast to only 7.0 km in east-west direction.

The center of the main town Westrhauderfehn is about 13 km southeast of the center of the district town of Leer.

The regional spatial planning program of the district of Leer assigns the function of a basic center for the municipality to the main town of Westrhauderfehn and the immediately neighboring town of Rhaudermoor .

Geology, hydrology and soils

The geological picture is determined by the Pleistocene and Holocene . Large parts of the municipality are raised bog areas (now mostly pitted ) . Niedermoor is only to be found southeast of the Backemoor district, which itself is on the Geest , as are the other localities of Rhaude, Holte, Schatteburg and Collinghorst in the north of the municipal area. The district of Langholt is also located on the Geest: It is located on a narrow strip of Geest, which is connected to the aforementioned Geest villages to the north as well as to the Geest in Emsland to the south. This narrow strip of geest separates the raised bog in the Westrhauderfehn area from the one in Ostrhauderfehn. The soils of the East Frisian Geest consist of deck sands and boulder clay . There are extensive wall hedge landscapes around the Geest villages mentioned .

Layers of peat in the bog

The raised bog areas are rain bogs , more precisely plateau rain bogs . Their creation began around 11,000 years ago. In the "Jammertal", part of the Esterweger Dose nature reserve, there is still a high moor to be found. According to the municipal council, existing raised bog areas in the Klostermoor district should be preserved as such and not be used for peat extraction.

In the far north of the municipality is the Leda river marsh . In the northeast, the municipal boundary extends to the river, otherwise the border runs only a few dozen meters south of the river bank, which is dammed in this section. The Leda is a tidal river, which is still noticeable on the Rhauderfehntjer section: Even in the Barge / Roggenberg area (municipality of Detern ) a few kilometers further east (i.e. inland) the tidal range is 80 cm. The northern part of the municipal area is drained via the Schatteburger Sieltief and the Holter Sieltief, for which the Leda-Jümme Association , a combined dike and water association , is responsible.

Neighboring communities

Rhauderfehn has seven neighboring communities. In the northwest, the community borders on a very short section of the district town of Leer. In the north, Rhauderfehn is bounded by the municipality of Detern ( joint municipality of Jümme ), with the Leda partly forming the border. East of Rhauderfehn is the "sister community" Ostrhauderfehn (all in the district of Leer). In the south, the community is bounded by the two communities of Bockhorst and Surwold , which belong to the combined community of Nordhümmling, and the city of Papenburg adjoins it in the southwest. These three municipalities are part of the Emsland district . Westoverledingen is located west of Rhauderfehn in the district of Leer.

Community structure

Windmill Rhaude ( Gallery Dutch )

The community consists of ten districts. These are Backemoor ( Low German : Baakmoor) , Holte (Low German: Holte) , Burlage (Low German: Burlaag) , Collinghorst (Low German: Cöllenhöst) , Klostermoor (Low German: Kloostermoor) , Rhaude (Low German: Rhaud) , Rhaudermoor (Low German: Rhaudermoor) , Schatteburg (Low German: Schattbörg) , Westrhauderfehn (Low German: Westerfehn) and Langholt (Low German: Langholt) . The last-mentioned district has the peculiarity that only part of the village is located in the municipality of Rhauderfehn. The village was divided into the municipalities of Rhauderfehn and Ostrhauderfehn during the Lower Saxony municipal reform in 1973. However, this has not done any harm to the feeling of togetherness. For example, the church-bound Rhauderfehntjer Langholter are looked after by the pastor in the Ostrhauderfehntjer district.

In addition to the ten official districts, there are other named residential areas. The village of Rajen belongs to the main town of Westrhauderfehn. The villages of Glansdorf and Neu-Glansdorf are part of Collinghorst. They are named after the Stickhauser bailiff Rudolf von Glan , one of the five founders of the Rhauderfehn-Compagnie, which initiated the colonization of the Fehn.

The focus of the settlement is in the east of the municipality with the main town Westrhauderfehn (7160 inhabitants) and Rhaudermoor (2940 inhabitants). Both places have now grown together without any major vacant lots and are home to around 10,000 of the community's 17,000 residents. In addition, the central infrastructure and the economic focus with two commercial areas, shopping facilities etc. are located there. With 170 inhabitants per km², the municipality is more densely populated in a comparison of inner-East Frisia (148 inhabitants / km²) and is quite exactly in line with the Lower Saxony average (168 inhabitants / km²) . Compared to the federal republican average (230 Ew / km²) the community is less populated.

Land use

The community is 102.92 km² or 10,292 hectares. Almost 80 percent of the municipal area is used for agriculture. In addition to water areas, forest areas also play a role in the south of the municipality, whereas the north of the municipality is very poorly forested.

Total area : 10,292 ha
Agriculturally used areas: 8050.7 ha
Buildings and open spaces: 1168.4 ha
Plant areas: 138.6 ha
Traffic areas: 413.7 ha
Forest areas: 191.8 ha
Water areas: 264.4 ha
Sports areas: 38.1 ha
Other areas: 26.1 ha


The municipality is located in the temperate climate zone, influenced by the North Sea . In summer the daytime temperatures are lower, in winter often higher than in the further inland. The climate is characterized by the Central European west wind zone.

After the climate classification of Köppen , the community is in the classification Cfb . (Climate zone C : warm-temperate climate, climate type f : humid-temperate climate, sub-type b : warm summer ). Within the temperate zone, it is assigned to the climate district of Lower Saxony flatland North Sea coast , which has a maritime character and is characterized by relatively cool and rainy summers, relatively mild winters with little snow, prevailing westerly and south-westerly winds and high annual rainfall.

Weather data is collected for the neighboring Leer, which has similar climatic conditions: The average annual temperature there is 9 ° C with maximum values ​​in July and August around 20 ° C and average minimum values ​​around −2 ° C in December and in January. There are most rainy days with 14 in November and December, the least in March and May, where there are nine days of precipitation. The number of average hours of sunshine per day varies between one (December / January) and six hours (May / June). The mean frost-free time is given as 170 to 187 days. The mean amount of precipitation is 738 mm / year, the mean annual sunshine duration is 1550 to 1600 hours.

The extensive raised bog complexes in the municipality, which have an influence on the weather, must be taken into account in terms of microclimate. Because of the subsurface conditions in a rain bog , the temperature differences between day and night are extreme. During the day in summer, temperatures on the ground can be very high, so that spontaneous combustion can cause moor fires. In addition, bog areas are much more fog-intensive than the surrounding area. Due to the centuries of peat mining and the associated drainage, this effect is no longer as pronounced as in the original natural landscape. However, the number of frost days in the raised bog area is significantly higher than in the surrounding area, with early and late frosts occurring more often.

Climate table for Leer
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 4th 5 8th 12 17th 20th 21st 21st 18th 14th 8th 5 O 12.8
Min. Temperature (° C) −2 −1 1 3 6th 9 11 11 9 6th 2 0 O 4.6
Precipitation ( mm ) 59.2 40.1 51.4 46.0 61.5 77.4 74.8 67.2 65.6 62.5 69.1 63.2 Σ 738
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 1 2 3 5 6th 6th 6th 6th 4th 3 2 1 O 3.8
Rainy days ( d ) 13 9 12 10 11 11 11 11 11 11 14th 14th Σ 138
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Protected areas

An upland moor south-east of Burlage called “Jammertal” is part of a large nature reserve called “ Esterweger Dose ”, which is largely located in the communities of Ostrhauderfehn, Saterland and Nördhümmling. The nature reserve, which has existed since 2005, has a total area of ​​4729 hectares or 47.29 km². It is part of an area of ​​around 11,000 hectares that was once the largest contiguous raised bog area in Central Europe. The Langholter Meer and Rhauder Meer have been designated a landscape protection area since 2009. It covers 206 ha square meters and lies on the ground of Rhauderfehn and Ostrhauderfehn. Three oaks near Backemoor have been designated as natural monuments with a size of less than one hectare since 2005, as are two linden trees in the main town of Westrhauderfehn.


middle Ages

The oldest district is probably the village of Backemoor in the north of Rhauderfehn. The church there dates from around 1250. Backemoor was probably the meeting place for councilors from all over Overledingerland during the time of the Frisian freedom .

The gate stone of the former Johanniterkommende is now in the Fehn- und Schiffahrtsmuseum Rhauderfehn.

In the 13th century, Johanniter from Burgsteinfurt founded the Kommende Langholt as a Doppelkommende in the previously completely undeveloped area. The upcoming one was built on the Langholter Tief river, which was surrounded by extensive raised bogs in both the west and east. On September 8, 1319, the Kommende Langholt was first mentioned in a document in a comparison between the Johanniter Hospital Burgsteinfurt and the Frisian Commanderies.

The Kommende also included a Vorwerk in Burlage , which was initially founded as an independent Kommende Burlage (also called in 1319), but was later added to Langholt. The commander's further possessions included around 6,000 hectares of land in today's Klostermoor district.

In the Middle Ages, Holte was an economic center of the southern Overledingerland with its cattle and junk markets . On the Bietzebarg (Bietzeberg) in Holter Hammrich , the Volnesborch is mentioned for the year 1409. However, there is no report of a chief at this castle in this context. Like the entire Overledingerland, the populated north of today's municipality came under the influence of the Neermoorer and later Leeraner chief Focko Ukena in the course of the East Frisian chief feuds , before he was subject to the Freedom League of the Seven East Friesland under the leadership of the chief family Cirksena from Greetsiel . The Cirksenas asserted their claim to power in the following decades and were enfeoffed with the county of East Friesland in 1464 .

Under the Cirksena (1464–1744)

After merchants from Emden had already established the first feudal settlements in East Friesland during the Thirty Years' War, including Großefehn (1633) as the first, the high moor south of Rhaude also came into view. In 1649, the citizens of Emden Harm van den Berge and Röttger Franzisci acquired a concession from the sovereign to set up a fen colony in the area of ​​the Rhauder Schanze. However, the project stalled and was finally abandoned by the merchants. The preparatory work in the form of a drainage channel was not used later when the fen colony was established.

After the Reformation , all of the monasteries and those who came in East Friesland were gradually dissolved, and the Langholt from the Count's House was also expropriated. In 1528 Langholt also came into the possession of Count Enno II. This procedure later led to several lawsuits before the Reich Chamber of Commerce . On September 3, 1574, the Reich Chamber Court reached a settlement between the East Frisian counts and the Johannitern. The then ruling Countess of East Friesland, Anna , had to return Langholt "with all the works, validities, pensions and other accessories". These were then awarded to hereditary tenants by the Order, represented by the Johanniter Commandery in Burgsteinfurt .

Fehn foundation under Prussian rule

Reclamation edict of 1765

After the last Count of East Friesland, Carl Edzard , died childless at an early age, East Friesland fell to Prussia in 1744 due to a prospect that had existed since the end of the 17th century . The office structure from Cirksena'scher time was taken over, today's municipality area belonged to the office Stickhausen , which comprised roughly the eastern third of today's district of Leer.

Backemoor and Holte were at that time the most important locations for craftsmen and traders in today's municipal area and - by a considerable margin - the second and third largest trading place after Detern , the place near the official seat. In Backemoor in 1756 the Prussian officials registered five tailors, four carpenters, three carpenters, two bakers, merchants, bricklayers, wheelmakers, blacksmiths and shoemakers as well as one cooper and linen weaver, a total of 26 merchants and craftsmen. In Holte in the same year there were five linen weavers, four carpenters, three tailors and bakers, two merchants, bricklayers and blacksmiths as well as a shoemaker, a total of 22 merchants and craftsmen. For comparison: In Detern there were 53. In contrast, the Geestdörfer Collinghorst-Rhaude and Schatteburg played only a subordinate role with eight, nine and two merchants and craftsmen.

The main town and namesake of the community, Westrhauderfehn, was "founded" in 1769 by some business people as a feudal settlement . These were the merchant Hinrich Thomas Stuart from Leer, the accountant Johann Heinrich Heydecke from Leer, Oberamtmann Rudolph Heinrich Carl von Glan from Stickhausen, the tax collector Alrich Weyers Ibelings from Breinermoor and the farmer Wille Janssen from Holte. For their Rhauder-Fehn-Compagnie they had taken over an area of ​​1500 Diemat from the Prussian state as "senior leaseholders " and then leased these areas to the new settlers as "lower leaseholders ". At that time the peat was dug up and the barren land was cultivated at the same time and the peat was sold as fuel in the East Frisian cities, but also to Hamburg and Altona . The pitted areas could then be used for agriculture.

"For the sake of the fencing to be laid, the Stuart et Consort of those marshes in Oberledingerland 1000 Diemath and Empty Office 500 Diemath are leased perpetually in such a way that they dig on the same peat, sell such for their own good, and that Cultivating excavated land, occupying it with houses and leasing it to others. On this 1500 Diemath Stuart et Comp. Build Buchweitzen as they please and allow others to do so, for which they impose an annual recognition of 20 Reichsthalers in Friedrichsdor on eternal days, whether it will be booked or not, to the Royal Treasury. "

- Das Rhauder Fehn Ost und West : Provisions from the award document.

As a result of the peat colonization promoted by Friedrich , the population of the Stickhausen Office grew very significantly during this period, from around 5,100 to around 9,300 people. In 1806 the office was the third largest in East Frisia in terms of population, behind the offices of Aurich and Leer.

During the time of the Napoleonic occupation , the further development of the feudal settlement came to a standstill because of the continental blockade , and the population development stagnated. Only in the further course of the 19th century did trade and shipping flourish and more and more residents of the Fehnsiedlung lived from shipping, as it became clear that the cultivated settler positions were too small for full-time agriculture . Most of the male residents of the village went to sea as captains and shipowners on their own wooden sailing ships .

Under changing rulers

After the double battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806, the municipality and all of East Frisia came to the Kingdom of Holland . In 1807 the Kommende Langholt was drafted by order of Ludwig Napoleon , the King of Holland , to whom East Friesland was subordinate at that time, and thus became a state domain .

In 1810 East Friesland came under the French Empire . After the Wars of Liberation, East Frisia became Prussian again for a short time. However, the states participating in the Congress of Vienna had agreed to swap territories, which also affected East Frisia: the Kingdom of Hanover came into being and remained so until it was dissolved after the war of German unification .

While the construction of stone roads between the cities began in East Friesland in the 1840s, the Rhauderfehntjer area only received its first fixed road connection in 1862/1863, namely between the town centers of West and Ostrhauderfehn. This becomes understandable, however, if you consider that the canals were the most important traffic connections of the Fehnsiedlung in the past. Peat and goods of all kinds were transported with Mutten or Tjalken over the main Fehn Canal to or from Rhauderfehn. The relatively short road connection across the Fehntjer Sea to Ostrhauderfehn was expanded into a paved road in the following years .

From the Empire to National Socialism

In 1910, the Leeran district committee decided to build a small railway from Westrhauderfehn to Ihrhove , where there was a connection to the standard gauge Emsland line . On November 3, 1912, the small railway was put into operation, in which the Prussian state, the province of Hanover and the district of Leer were involved.

The NSDAP only gained a foothold in the district of Leer late - in contrast to the East Frisian neighboring districts of Wittmund and Weener (still independent until 1932) and to parts of the district of Aurich. During the Weimar Republic, the social democrats were strongly represented in the fen colony of Westrhauderfehn, “certainly a consequence of the special professional and social structures that existed in the fen communities. An extraordinarily large number of seamen, shipyard workers and small colonist families lived there. ”In the Reichstag elections in September 1930, however, the NSDAP also made strong gains in the district of Leer, which also affected today's municipal area. As in the Wittmund and Aurich areas, it was above all the Geest villages in which the National Socialists achieved outstanding results. In Collinghorst they achieved 43.6 percent, in Backemoor 47.8 percent and in Rhaude even 62 percent of the votes cast. National Socialists from today's municipal area also played a role at the local level. In the district elections in March 1933, the National Socialists won 15 seats (out of 29). Of these 15 representatives, three came from today's municipality: a doctor from Westrhauderfehn and a farmer each from Rhaude and Backemoor. With this composition, they reflected the professional composition of the NS district council members as a whole: of the 15 MPs, ten were farmers. The Social Democrats lost their strong position even in the Westrhauderfehn district and, with 10.2 percent, lagged far behind the NSDAP (41.5 percent). The KPD came to 6.4 percent. In individual localities, the National Socialists achieved results of more than 60, 70 or 80 percent, but nowhere a result like in the Schatteburg district, where 64 out of 64 voters voted for the NSDAP.

After the establishment of the Emsland camps , especially Börgermoor and Esterwegen, in the summer of 1933, the SS death and death associations deployed there also attacked the population in southern East Friesland, and not even the Nazis were spared attacks. In addition to attacks in the nearby towns of Papenburg, Leer and Weener, villages in today's municipality were also affected. In 1935 there was a clash between SS guards and local NSDAP members as well as other participants in a rally in Burlage.

“The later complaint from Burlage to the camp management led to a telling reaction: A group of SS men arrived from Esterwegen with cars and trucks , who attacked the participants in the rally and several men, including a teacher - himself a National Socialist - from Westrhauderfehn badly mistreated, took away and handed over to the Gestapo , who held the teacher for weeks and even took him to Berlin to the notorious Columbia house of the SS. "

- Herbert Reyer : The threatening everyday life under National Socialism. SA and SS terror in East Frisia in the years 1933–1945 , p. 94

post war period

After the war, displaced persons from the eastern regions of the German Reich were taken in in the municipality of Rhauderfehn, which meant that the population climbed over 10,000 for the first time. The distribution across the individual districts was quite different: while the proportion of refugees in Klostermoor, which was not yet fully developed, was around ten percent, in Backemoor and Rhaude it was almost a quarter. Some fen canals were also filled in again over time, e.g. B. 1949 the Rhauderwieke.

In the immediate post-war period, the district of Leer was the most heavily populated of the three East Frisian districts with refugees from the East, because - in contrast to the districts of Aurich and Wittmund - it was not used as an internment area for prisoners of war German soldiers. However, the district of Leer subsequently accepted most of the people in Lower Saxony who were already unemployed or unemployed in the eastern regions. The proportion of people over 65 was also higher than the average in Lower Saxony. In contrast, the district of Leer recorded the lowest proportion of male refugees from the East between the ages of 20 and 45 of all districts in Lower Saxony.

Mammoth plow at the presentation (1948)

The history of bog colonization in the community came to an end with the inclusion of the district Klostermoor in the Emsland plan (1951). Rhauderfehn is the only municipality in the district of Leer that participated in this plan. After the mechanical cultivation of the raised bog with the help of gigantic plows , numerous full-time farm positions were created. A housing estate with a school and kindergarten was added from the 1960s. The number of inhabitants grew correspondingly quickly: while only 520 people lived in Klostermoor before the war, the number had more than doubled to 1,162 by 1970. Burlage's peat dog was discovered in 1953 during potting work in the Klostermoor .

Passenger traffic on the Kleinbahn to Ihrhove was discontinued in 1961, and freight traffic twelve years later.

The unemployment rate in the entire district of Leer was extraordinarily high in the early 1950s and was sometimes over 20 percent. For this reason, not only did many of the people who had recently immigrated from the eastern regions migrate, but also locals. The high structural unemployment can in part be explained by the mechanization of agriculture, which made the use of farm workers superfluous. In 1961 a larger industrial company was finally settled in Rhauderfehn: The zipper manufacturer Opti was no longer able to meet its manpower requirements in the Duderstadt and Essen factories and built a branch in Rhauderfehn, which at times employed up to 1000 people and thus became the largest industrial company in Rhauderfehn.

As part of the Lower Saxony administrative reform, the municipalities of Backemoor, Burlage, Collinghorst, Holte, Klostermoor, Rhaude, Rhaudermoor, Schatteburg and Westrhauderfehn merged to form the new municipality of Rhauderfehn on January 1, 1973. Parts of the area of ​​the dissolved municipality of Langholt with then about 400 inhabitants were added.

As part of the fen program launched by the Lower Saxony state government , a new lock and a basin for historic flat-bottomed ships were built in the 1980s. The construction of a bascule bridge and seven footbridges and drawbridges, which were built according to old models, were also financed. In this way the fen character was preserved or restored without neglecting the requirements of modern road traffic. In addition, the navigability of the Fehnkanal has been improved.

Population development

A systematic recording of the population by the authorities took place in East Friesland since the beginning of the Prussian period (1744). However, official figures for individual villages are seldom transmitted from that time, so local history research is often based on church sources.

The population of today's municipality of Rhauderfehn has grown steadily since the early 19th century, even during the wave of emigration to the USA in the 19th century, which covered large parts of East Frisia. Between 1821 and 1925 the population almost exactly tripled. After the Second World War, the number of inhabitants exceeded the 10,000 mark for the first time, due to the admission of displaced persons from the eastern regions of the German Empire. Due to a lack of job opportunities, the number decreased a little in the 1950s and then rose again. When the large community was formed in the course of Lower Saxony's municipal reform in 1973, Rhauderfehn had around 13,000 inhabitants. After 1990 the number of inhabitants grew by more than 3,000, mainly due to immigration from the new federal states and ethnic German repatriates, but also due to people who looked for retirement homes in the community and other new citizens. In 2006 the highest level was reached with 17,305 inhabitants, since then the number of inhabitants has been just under 17,300.

year Residents
1821 2918
1848 5507
1871 6751
1885 7077
1905 7491
year Residents
1925 8867
1933 9756
1939 9789
1946 11,744
1950 12,236
year Residents
1956 11,433
1961 11,515
1970 13.303
1975 13,169
1980 13,420
year Residents
1985 14,138
1990 14,366
1995 15,246
2000 16,440
2005 17,281
year Residents
2010 17,293
2015 17,815

Of the almost 17,300 inhabitants of the municipality (as of 2010), 51 percent were female and 49 percent male. 49 percent of the Rhauderfehntjer were married, 38 percent single, seven percent widowed and six percent divorced. The proportion of foreigners was three percent, which is still below the average for the district of Leer, which in turn has a below-average proportion of foreigners in Germany-wide comparison. The inhabitants lived in 6611 households.

16 percent of the Rhauderfehntjer (2880 people) are younger than 16 years, 17.3 percent (3083) between 16 and 30 years old. The group of 31 to 65 year olds makes up 47.8 percent of the population (8499). 15.2 percent of the Fehntjer (2714) belong to the age cohort of 66 to 80 year olds. Four percent (713) are very old people over 80 years of age (as of Jan. 2011).

Development of the place name

The basic part of the name Rhauderfehn goes back to the old Geestdorf Rhaude. Rhaude may have been mentioned for the first time as Renuuidu in the Werden arable land . Many of the oldest East Frisian place names are recorded in the land register. However, proof of whether Renuuidu matches Rhaude is still pending . The place name arose from the old Frisian Rath-widu or Roth-widu , which is translated as clearing forest and refers to the extensive forests on the Geest in the Middle Ages.

The ending -fehn indicates that Rhauderfehn is a moor settlement . In Low German documents from the 15th century, the word Fehn (or Veen , as in Dutch ) initially only means “settlement in the moor”. It was only after the creation of Großefehn (1633) that the word got another, more concrete meaning in East Friesland as terminus technicus for a moor settlement that was laid out along a specially excavated canal, a Fehn Canal. Nevertheless, there were also bog settlements in the following years that were not laid out along a Fehn Canal and still have the name ending -fehn. In general, a fen in today's science is understood to mean a bog colony along a canal. For a more precise distinction, however, the literature sometimes also differentiates between “real” (with a canal) and “false” horn (without a canal). In the present case it is a "real" Fehnsiedlung.

The name Rhauder Wester-Fehn for the western part of the Rhauderfehn and accordingly the name Rhauder Oster-Fehn were recorded in writing in 1824 by the East Frisian historian Fridrich Arends in the description of the earth for the Principality of East Frisia and the Harlingerland . In 1871 Westrhauderfehn is used in today's spelling. In the local Low German, Westerfehn for Westrhauderfehn is used to simplify matters.


In contrast to the rest of East Friesland, the CDU in the district of Leer was organized very early after the Second World War and achieved the best results within the region there. In the federal election in 1949, she achieved a majority in all towns except Rhaudermoor and Backemoor, where the SPD prevailed. In the 1953 federal elections, however, the municipal area was firmly in the hands of the CDU, which, with the exception of Backemoor, achieved an absolute majority everywhere, and in Backemoor the relative majority. In the 1969 Bundestag election, the Christian Democrats finally won an absolute majority in all parts of the town. It was not until the "Willy Brandt election" in 1972 , which brought the SPD a record result in East Friesland and penetrated some of the previous CDU bastions, that the dominance of the CDU ended in the southern districts of Klostermoor and Burlage as well as in the old Geest villages of Schatteburg, Although Holte and Rhaude retained an absolute majority, they had to give way to the Social Democrats in the populous districts of Westrhauderfehn and Rhaudermoor, as well as in Collinghorst and Backemoor. The five CDU strongholds mentioned remained such in the following period.

Municipal council

The council of the municipality of Rhauderfehn consists of 32 councilors. This is the specified number for a municipality with a population between 15,001 and 20,000. The municipal council is elected for a five-year term by local elections. The current term of office began on November 1, 2016 and ends on October 31, 2021.

The full-time mayor Geert Müller (independent) is also entitled to vote in the municipal council.

The most recent municipal council election took place on September 11, 2016. Since then, five parties, a community of voters and two individual applicants have been represented on the municipal council. The following results were obtained:

Political party percent Seats Changes
SPD 42.7 14th +2
CDU 25.6 8th -1
Citizens for Rhauderfehn (BfR) - - –6
Alliance 90 / The Greens 6.8 2 + 1
The left - - -1
FDP 3.5 1 + 1
The Frisians 4.1 1 0
HELLO 12.0 4th +4
Nehuis 2.0 1 +1
Benedix 1.7 1 +1
Malchow 1.5 0 0

The turnout in the 2016 local elections was 52.4%, below the Lower Saxony average of 55.5%.


Since the election on September 11, 2011, the mayor of the municipality of Rhauderfehn has been Geert Müller, who was a non-party candidate. He prevailed with 54.7 percent of the vote against his competitors Hermann Koenen (SPD, 24.3 percent) and Gerd Krone (CDU, 20.9 percent).

Representatives in the Land and Bundestag

Rhauderfehn belongs to the constituency of Leer . 15 parties ran for the state elections in Lower Saxony in 2017 . Six of these parties had put up direct candidates. The directly elected MP is Ulf Thiele ( CDU ). Meta Janssen-Kucz ( Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen ) also entered the Lower Saxony state parliament via the state list .

Rhauderfehn belongs to the Bundestag constituency Unterems (constituency 25), which consists of the district of Leer and the northern part of the district of Emsland. The constituency was redesigned for the 1980 federal election and has remained unchanged since then. So far, only representatives of the CDU have prevailed as direct candidates in this constituency. The constituency is represented in the Bundestag by the directly elected CDU MP Gitta Connemann from Leer. No party candidate from the constituency entered the Bundestag via the parties' list.

coat of arms

After its establishment, the municipality of Rhauderfehn took over the coat of arms of the former municipality of Westrhauderfehn: a golden anchor in blue with a knob on top and winged on both sides; two golden snakes wind around the stick. This combination of an anchor and a rod of Mercury stands for seafaring and trade. The coat of arms was designed in 1954 based on the former coat of arms of the Rhauder-Fehn-Compagnie. The municipality finally adopted the coat of arms in 1955.


The municipality of Rhauderfehn has entered into a partnership with the town of Alsleben (Saale) in the Salzland district (Saxony-Anhalt), which has around 2600 inhabitants . The partnership charter was signed on August 25, 1990. Rhauderfehntjer clubs can receive subsidies for trips to the twin city under certain conditions. The city of Alsleben also grants its residents corresponding subsidies. Several groups have already made use of this funding.


Ev.-luth. Hope Church and Fehn Canal in Westrhauderfehn

East Frisia is traditionally strongly influenced by Protestants. While there are still numerous Reformed parishes in the west of Overledingerland (i.e. the parish of Westoverledingen ) , Rhauderfehn is already almost completely Lutheran . 53 percent of the population belong to the Lutheran Church, four percent to the Reformed Church. Due to the settlement of Catholic settlers from neighboring Hümmling in Emsland and the influx of displaced persons from eastern Germany after the Second World War, Catholics make up 22 percent of the total population, a figure that is hardly reached elsewhere in East Frisia. The remaining 20 percent of the population are non-denominational or belong to other religious communities.

Rhauderfehn is the official seat of the superintendent and church district cantor of the Evangelical Lutheran church district of Rhauderfehn. The Rhauderfehn parish includes the Evangelical Lutheran parishes of Amdorf / Neuburg, Backemoor / Breinermoor, Collinghorst, Detern, Filsum, Flachsmeer, Hollen, Langholt, Ostrhauderfehn / Holterfehn, Ockenhausen, Potshausen, Remels, Rhaude, Steenfelde, and Westerkröllen, Völlen the area of ​​the Overledingerland as well as the (velvet) communities Hesel , Jümme and Uplengen . The following can be found in the municipality of Rhauderfehn: the hope parish Westrhauderfehn as the largest, the Trinity parish of Collinghorst, the St. Laurentius and St. Vincenz parish of Backemoor and the parish of Rhaude. The church of the Trinitatisgemeinde Langholt is in the Ostrhauderfehntjer part of Langholt. The Johanniskapelle Alt-Burlage is looked after from Langholt. The Catholic parish is the St. Bonifatius parish Westrhauderfehn . There is also a New Apostolic church in Rhauderfehn .

Culture and sights

Hahnentange windmill ( gallery Dutch ),
Burlage windmill ( Erdholländer )


In Westrhauderfehn there is a Fehn and Maritime Museum , which covers both the history of the fen settlement and the later developed shipping of the Fehntjer. In 2010 it had 5209 visitors. Sometimes there are also special exhibitions.

Churches and organs

Several historical brick churches can be found in Rhauderfehn, the three oldest of them date from the 13th / 14th centuries. Century. St. Laurentius and St. Vincenz in Backemoor was built in the first half of the 13th century and served as a meeting place for judges from all over Overledingerland . In the 15th century, the western bell tower was added to the hall church with the retracted apse , which is designed as a defensive tower , as indicated by the strong walls, the loopholes and the built-in chimney. Pre-Reformation paintings can be seen in the apse arch. The winged altar dates from 1701/02. The rococo organ by Johann Friedrich Wenthin from 1782, which has largely been preserved and has an original gamba register, is of national importance.

The Romano-Gothic Trinity Church in Collinghorst was built around 1250 and was extended 100 years later, adding a tower and choir. Here, too, loopholes, the chimney system and a retractable hatch in the tower suggest that it served as a defensive tower. A narrow corridor connected the tower and church and could be closed by means of a hatch that can still be seen today above the entrance portal. The font made of Bentheim sandstone dates from the 13th century. In 1695 the altar was retable and in 1816 the pulpit. In 1838, Johann Gottfried Rohlfs built the small organ as his last work, which has eight registers and already shows the hallmarks of early romanticism.

The Rhauder Church from the first half of the 14th century is a hall church with a semicircular east apse and a free-standing bell tower. During the Thirty Years War the church was brought to collapse so that it could not serve as a refuge for the troops of Mansfeld . During the subsequent reconstruction between 1652 and 1654, the windows were redesigned. Wall paintings depicting the Twelve Apostles have survived from the 15th century . The winged altar was designed in the second half of the 17th century. The rococo pulpit dates from 1795. Behind the historic prospectus by Johann Friedrich Constabel from 1756, a new work by the Hillebrand brothers was installed in the 1980s .

The neoclassical Hope Church in Westrhauderfehn from 1848 is a typical moor church for the newly developed Fehnsiedlung . It has the tallest church tower in East Frisia (53.5 meters), which was added in 1885/86. The entire wooden interior such as the altar, pulpit and stalls come from the year the church was built; the baptismal font was donated in 1886. In 1852 Gerd Sieben Janssen created the organ, which underwent several modifications so that only a few remnants of Janssen's work remained.

The Catholic Church of St. Bonifatius in Westrhauderfehn was built in two sections (1852/53 and 1906) as a hall church with transept and west tower. The sculptures of a Pietà (around 1480), Saint Anthony (first half of the 18th century) and the Holy Family (around 1760) are said to come from the abolished Franciscan monastery in Aschendorf .


In Rhauderfehn there are about 30 sports clubs, which cover a wide range of activities from football to water sports to shooting sports.

Together with the sister community of Ostrhauderfehn, the community of Rhauderfehn operated an outdoor pool on the Langholter Meer. The dilapidated bathroom has since been closed.

Regular events

In the miller's house next to the Hahnentanger mill, the gallery of the art circle Rhauderfehn, art exhibitions are regularly shown. Concerts are given in the Fehntjer Forum as part of the “Weltklassik am Piano” concert series. One of the concerts of the annual Musical Summer in East Friesland usually takes place in one of the municipality's historic churches .


Rhauderfehn is an out- commuter community. 4,364 residents are employed subject to social security contributions. In the municipality itself there are 2383 jobs subject to social security contributions. 1323 inbound commuters compared to 3304 outbound commuters. An unemployment rate for the municipality itself is not calculated. In the Leer division of the Employment Agency, which includes the district of Leer excluding Borkum, the unemployment rate in December 2015 was 6.3 percent. It was 0.4 percentage points above the Lower Saxony average. At that time there were almost 600 unemployed in the community. Although agriculture plays a predominant role in land use, the share of employees in this economic sector does not exceed one percent. With 33 percent, the manufacturing industry was ahead of the retail, hospitality and transport sectors, which took 23%. Other services account for the remaining 42 percent. However, the self-employed farmers are not included in this statistic of employees, so that the proportion of those employed in agriculture is slightly higher. There are three industrial areas in the municipality: Rhauderfehn-Mitte (12.5 ha), Rhaudermoor (13 ha) and Burlage (2 ha).

Established businesses

A zipper manufacturer Opti has been located in Rhauderfehn since 1962 and is now part of the British Coats Group . At that time it was settled in the Fehngemeinde because there was a labor shortage in the factories in Essen and Duderstadt , while in East Friesland there was a surplus of labor. At times 1000 people were employed in the plant, today around 350. Opti is still the largest industrial company in the municipality and one of the few textile companies in East Frisia. In the food industry, there is a manufacturer of Italian ice cream. The Bruno Eis company was founded by Bruno Luchetta, who opened an ice cream parlor in Rhauderfehn in the 1980s and later switched to the production of ice cream.

The energy company Gaz de France extracts natural gas from a depth of 4000 meters near Backemoor . Property owners in the community also benefit from the funding. In the district of Klostermoor there is a wind farm built in 1999 by a closed fund owned by N.prior energy from Leer . The designation of another wind farm near Backemoor is still controversial.

Part of the Automotive Testing Papenburg vehicle test track is located in Klostermoor . The waterworks for the Oberledingerland are located in Collinghorst.


Tourism has gained in importance over the past few decades. In 2010 there were 32,000 overnight stays in the community, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to the previous year. In addition to the moorland, the municipality also uses the abundance of water and relies on the corresponding tourism segment. A paddle and pedal station opened in April 2010, where tourists can choose to borrow boats or bicycles and return them to stations in other communities , also serves this purpose .

In the municipality there are hotels and pensions, but also holiday homes and holiday apartments. Individual farms also offer farm holidays . There is also a motorhome parking space.

Rhauderfehn is located on the German Fehnroute tourist themed route . The moor adventure route that connects the neighboring communities of the Esterweger Dose nature reserve is also signposted .


Dairy farm in Burlage

Due to the rather barren bog soils in large parts, dairy farming is usually given preference over arable farming . However, arable farming is also practiced. There is sometimes competition for land between dairy farming and arable farmers, especially those who want to use plants to generate energy from biogas . Biogas plants have meanwhile increased agricultural land prices in the Leer district. In addition to farmers in the district, in particular those in the neighboring regions of Emsland and Oldenburger Münsterland have specialized in the production of biogas and increasingly require land in the Leer district for cultivation.

Individual farmers have concentrated on ecologically oriented cultivation .

Near Holte, the state of Lower Saxony has bought an area of ​​230 hectares that will in future serve as a relief polder when the Leda is high in winter water levels.


The daily General-Anzeiger , the local newspaper for Overledingerland and the neighboring Oldenburg, is published in Rhauderfehn . It used to be published by Verlag Siebe Ostendorp , today it appears in the Ostfriesland newspaper group . The editorial office for the General-Anzeiger is still based at the publishing location in Rhauderfehn.

Furthermore, Rhauderfehn is in the circulation area of ​​various ad-financed weekly newspapers such as Wecker and Sonntagsreport . The magazine Fehntjer Zeitgeist has been published quarterly since May 2015 and deals with history and stories from the region.


The municipality of Rhauderfehn is responsible for eight elementary schools , which are spread across the municipality. The entire range of secondary schools can also be found in town: a secondary school and a secondary school and, since 2004, a grammar school, the only one in the district of Leer outside the district town. Before that, the high school students from Rhauderfehn went to school in Leer or Papenburg. The offer is completed by a special school with a focus on "learning". The Volkshochschule Leer also operates a branch in Rhauderfehn.


Traffic axes in East Friesland: Rhauderfehn (southeast of Leer) is crossed by the federal highway 438. It is the most important transport link.

Rhauderfehn is not accessed by the railroad and neither is it crossed or affected by a motorway. The most important means of transport is the federal highway 438 , which runs through the municipality in an approximate north-west-south-east direction. The B 438 begins at Folmhusen in the western neighboring municipality of Westoverledingen, where it branches off from Bundesstraße 70 (Leer-Papenburg). You through Rhauderfehn and the eastern neighboring community Ostrhauderfehn before in the field of community Saterland into the federal highway 72 opens. The traffic roundabout in the center of Westrhauderfehn is the busiest section of a federal road in Overledingerland with 26,000 vehicles per day. However, only 15 percent of this is due to through traffic, the rest is source and destination traffic.

The closest motorway junctions depend on the source location within the municipality and the destination. The Papenburg junction is closest for journeys on the Autobahn 31 south in the direction of the Ruhr area. For journeys in the direction of Emden on the same motorway, the junction in Leer (Leer-West, Leer-Nord or Leer-Ost) is ideal. In both cases, however, the cities mentioned must be passed through. Alternatively, the route leads via the B 438 and the B 72 to the Filsum junction on the federal motorway 28 . This junction is also the closest for journeys in the direction of Oldenburg . As an alternative to driving south on the A 31, there is the use of federal road 401 ( coastal canal route ), which passes the municipality a few kilometers south and ends at the Dörpen junction .

Rhauderfehn does not have a train station. The nearest railway stations with intercity terminal are on the railway line to Rheine-Norddeich Mole of Leer (Ostfriesland) station and Papenburg (Ems) . From 1912 to 1979 there was a Kleinbahn Ihrhove – Westrhauderfehn . The operation was stopped due to unprofitability.

The fen canals are no longer important for commercial shipping today. They are only used for leisure traffic. The same applies to the Leda, which touches the northern municipality area, which is only a federal waterway for the last two kilometers before it flows into the Ems and is of importance for the port of Leer.

The closest airfield is the one in Leer . The closest international airport with scheduled services is in Bremen .


Born in the municipality of Rhauderfehn


  • Günther Dreyer, Martin Stromann: Rhauderfehn between moor and sea . Soltau-Kurier-Norden, Norden 2001, ISBN 3-928327-51-8 .
  • Bruno Ewen: Rhauderfehn in the old days . Ostendorp, Rhauderfehn 1982, ISBN 3-921516-36-6 .
  • Thomas Schumacher, Martin Stromann: Rhauderfehn: between moor and sea; Portrait of an East Frisian community . Soltau-Kurier-Norden, Norden 2007, ISBN 978-3-939870-42-5 .
  • Kuno von Glan: Das Rhauderfehn: 1765 to 1957; Excerpts from his story . Bad Oeynhausen 1958.

Web links

Commons : Rhauderfehn  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  8. Lower Saxony Mill Road: Windmill Rhaude-Holte
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  10. Updated world climate map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification , viewed on December 28, 2011.
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  16. The information can be found on an interactive map at www.meine-umweltkarte-niedersachsen.de ( Memento of the original from January 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. be considered. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.meine-umweltkarte-niedersachsen.de
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