During the French annexation (1811-1813) in the wake of the Napoleonic war against Britain, it was also known as Le Vieux-Bourg in French. The city is situated at the Rivers Hunte and Haaren, in the northwestern region between the cities of Bremen in the east and Groningen (Netherlands) in the west. It has a population of 170,000 (November 2019). Oldenburg is part of the Bremen/Oldenburg Metropolitan Region, with 2.37 million people.
Archaeological finds point to a settlement dating back to the 8th century. The first documentary evidence, in 1108, referenced Aldenburg in connection with Elimar I (also known as Egilmar I) who is now commonly seen as the first count of Oldenburg. The town gained importance due to its location at a ford of the navigable Hunte river. Oldenburg became the capital of the County of Oldenburg (later a Duchy (1774- 1810), Grand Duchy (1815-1918), and Free State (1918-1946)), a small state in the shadow of the much more powerful Hanseatic city of Bremen.
In the 17th century Oldenburg was a wealthy town in a time of war and turmoil and its population and power grew considerably. In 1667, the town was struck by a disastrous plague epidemic and, shortly after, a fire destroyed Oldenburg. The Danish kings, who were also counts of Oldenburg at the time, had little interest in the condition of the town and it lost most of its former importance. In 1773, Danish rule ended. Only then were the destroyed buildings in the city rebuilt in a neoclassicist style. ( German-speakers usually call the "neoclassicist style" of that period klassizistisch, while neoklassizistisch specifically refers to the classicist style of the early 20th century.)
After the German government announced the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II (9 November 1918) following the exhaustion and defeat of the German Empire in World War I, monarchic rule ended in Oldenburg as well with the abdication of Grand Duke Frederick Augustus II of Oldenburg(Friedrich August II von Oldenburg) on 11 November 1918. The Grand Duchy now became the Free State of Oldenburg (German: Freistaat Oldenburg), with the city remaining the capital.
In the 1928 city elections, the Nazi Party received 9.8% of the vote, enough for a seat on the Oldenburg city council. In the September 1930 Oldenburg state elections, the Nazi Party's share of the vote rose to 27.3%, and on May 29, 1932, the Nazi Party received 48.4% in the state election, enough to put the Nazi party in charge of forming a state government and, significantly, making Oldenburg the first state in the country to put the Nazis in power based on electoral turnout. By that autumn, a campaign of Aryanization began, forcing the sale of formerly Jewish-owned properties at steep discounts.
In 1945, after World War II, the State of Oldenburg became part of the British zone of occupation. The British military government of the Oldenburg region resided in the city. Several displaced-persons camps were set up in the city that had suffered only 1.4% destruction during the bombing campaigns of World War II. About 42,000 refugees migrated into Oldenburg, which raised the number of residents to over 100,000. In 1946 the Free State of Oldenburg was dissolved and the area became the 'Administrative District' of Oldenburg (Verwaltungsbezirk Oldenburg) within the newly-formed federal German state of Lower Saxony(Niedersachsen). The city was now capital of the district. In 1978 the district was dissolved and succeeded by the newly formed Weser-Ems administrative region (Regierungsbezirk Weser-Ems), again with the city as administrative capital. The state of Lower Saxony dissolved all of the Regierungsbezirke by the end of 2004 in the course of administrative reforms.
Resulting distribution of seats in the city council
Economy and infrastructure
Oldenburg Railway Station
The city centre of Oldenburg is surrounded by a ring of freeways (autobahns) consisting of A 28, A 29 and A 293. Because of this, Oldenburg is connected to the nationwide network of federal autobahns, as well as to the international E-road network (German: Europastraßen)
The small Hatten Airfield, (Flugplatz Oldenburg-HattenICAO airport code: EDWH), is located about 17 km south-west of Oldenburg. It serves to small aircraft (private planes, gliders, balloons, and helicopters). A flight training school is also located there, and small planes can be chartered. Scenic flights can be booked as well.
Oldenburg is connected to shipping through the Küstenkanal, a ship canal connecting the rivers Ems and Weser. With 1.6 million tons of goods annually, it is the most important non-coastal harbour in Lower Saxony.
Bicycles play a very important part in personal transport.
The city is surrounded by large agricultural areas, about 80% of which is grassland. There are farms near and even a few within city limits. Predominant agricultural activities of the region are the cultivation of livestock, especially dairy cows and other grazing animals, crops such as grains for food and animal feed, as well as asparagus, corn, and kale.
Sea salt production in the Oldenburg region has been used since the 15th century to supply the huge salt demand in the Baltic region. Peat extraction in the area continued for many centuries until it was replaced by coal mines.
"Hundehütten" (dog houses) typical architecture in Oldenburg
Recurring cultural events
Kultursommer (summer of culture), series of free musical and other cultural events in the city centre during summer holiday season in July.
Kramermarkt, fun fair at the Weser-Ems Halle on ten days in September/October. The tradition of this annual volksfest dates back to the 17th century, when the Kramermarkt was a market event at the end of the harvest.
Oldenburger Kinder- und Jugendbuchmesse (KIBUM), an exhibition of new German languagechildren's and youth literature, takes place over 11 days in November. A non-commercial fair organised by the city government in cooperation with the public library and the university library. In the course of the fair, a prize, the Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis, is awarded to a debuting author or illustrator.
Points of interest
Core city centre, a large pedestrianized shopping destination for the region.
Schloss Oldenburg in the city centre, until 1918 residence of the monarchic rulers of Oldenburg, today a museum. A public park, the Schlossgarten, is nearby.
Weser-Ems Halle, exhibition and congress centre with outdoor fair area, located in Oldenburg Donnerschwee.
Small EWE Arena and Large EWE Arena, two sports and event halls located near the main railway station, opened in 2005 and 2013, and seating up to 4,000 and 6,852 visitors respectively. The large arena is also home to the EWE Baskets Oldenburg basketball club.
Nathan Marcus Adler, chief Rabbi of the Oldenburg Jewish community in the 19th century
The history of the Jewish community of Oldenburg dates back to the 14th century. Towards and during the 19th century, the Jews in Oldenburg were always around 1% of the total population, and by that time had acquired their own synagogue, cemetery and school. Most of them were merchants and businessmen. On 1938 Kristallnacht, the town men were led to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, among them Leo Trepp, the community Rabbi who survived and later became an honorary citizen of Oldenburg and honored by a street named after him. Since 1981 an annual commemoration walk (Erinnerungsgang) has been held by Oldenburg citizens in memory of the deportation of the Oldenburg Jews on November 10, 1938. Those who remained after 1938 emigrated to Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Holland or Mandatory Palestine.
After World War II, a group of survivors returned to the city and maintained a small community until it was dissolved during the 1970s. Nevertheless, due to Jewish emigration from the former USSR to Germany in the 1990s, a community of about 340 people is now maintaining its own synagogue, cemetery and other facilities. The old Jewish cemetery, which is no longer active after the opening of a new one, was desecrated twice in 2011 and 2013.
The Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg was founded in 1973 based on a previous college for teacher training, the Pädagogische Hochschule Oldenburg, which had a history in Oldenburg dating back to 1793. The university was officially named after Carl von Ossietzky in 1991. As of 2014, it has almost 13,746 students, a scientific staff of 1,130, as well as 964 technical and administrative staff. A new faculty of medicine and health sciences was established in 2012 as part of the newly founded European Medical School Oldenburg-Groningen, a cooperation with the University of Groningen (Netherlands) and local hospitals.
The Jade University of Applied Sciences (Jade-Hochschule) The former Fachhochschule Oldenburg (until 1999) was founded in 1971, a merger of the previous engineering academy with the nautical college in Elsfleth. Oldenburg already had a history of construction engineering training dating back to 1882. Starting in 2000, the Fachhochschule had been part of multiple re-organisations involving several UAS (Fachhochschule) in the northwestern region. A relaunch under the name Jade-Hochschule took place in 2009 (previously: Fachhochschule Oldenburg/Ostfriesland/Wilhelmshaven). The Jade-Hochschule now comprises branches in three towns: Oldenburg, Elsfleth, and Wilhelmshaven. Based in Oldenburg are the departments of architecture, construction engineering and construction management, geodesy, as well as the institute of hearing aid technology and audiology. There are about 2,000 students in the Oldenburg branch. (The Elsfleth branch offers bachelor's degree courses in nautical science, international logistics, and harbour management. The Wilhelmshaven branch offers courses in engineering, business management, and media management.)
Privately managed institutions of higher education:
The Oldenburg branch of the Lower Saxony police academy (Polizeiakademie Niedersachsen) maintains a study facility in Oldenburg preparing candidates for a career in higher-middle-level or higher-level police service.
Oldenburgische Landschaft(in German), Oldenburg-based public body of municipalities located within the area of the former State of Oldenburg, tasked to maintain historically significant landmarks, landscapes, and art, as well as to promote local culture.