Town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Minden logo since 2016

Minden (German: [ˈmɪndn] (audio speaker iconlisten)) is a town of about 81,000 inhabitants in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The town extends along both sides of the River Weser. It is the capital of the district (Kreis) of Minden-Lübbecke, which is part of the region of Detmold. Minden is the historic political centre of the cultural region of Minden Land. It is widely known as the intersection of the Mittelland Canal and the River Weser. The town is over 1,200 years old and retains some buildings in the Weser Renaissance style, in addition to its architecturally symbolic 1,000-year-old cathedral.

Geography

Location

Topography of the Minden area
Mittelland Canal crossing the Weser
The quarters of Minden

Minden is a town in the northeastern part of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It lies on the River Weser, north of the Porta Westfalica gap between the ridges of the Weser Hills and Wiehen Hills. The Weser leaves the Weser Uplands and flows into the North German Plain. The town centre lies 5 kilometres (3 miles) to the north, on a plateau on the western side of the river. The small Bastau stream flows into the Weser from the west near the town centre. The edge of the plateau marks the transition from the Middle Weser Valley to the Lübbecke Loessland. This marked change in terrain divides the upper town from the lower town, and marks the boundary between two ecological zones.

In the frame of Natural regions of Germany the western part of Minden belongs to a sequence of geomorphological units (from south to north): the Wiehen Hills, the Lübbecke Loessland, therein the Bastau depression, and the Dümmer Geest Lowland. The eastern part lies in the Middle Weser Valley depression.

Crossing the Weser valley was once favoured by a ford with a small hill in the middle; there the Weser meander touches the western edge of the valley, the eastern floodplain is usually meadowland, but inundated in times of flood, so that the central bridgehead (Brückenkopf) becomes a river island. Today a system of two bridges crosses the valley.

The Mittelland Canal connecting the river systems of Ems, Weser and Elbe traverses the town from east to west, while the Weser flows from south to north. These waterways cross in the northern area of the town at the Minden Aqueduct (Wasserstraßenkreuz Minden).

The Weser leaves the Minden area at its lowest part in the quarter of Leteln, at 40 metres (131 feet), while the highest part is the top of Häverstädter Berg with 272 metres (892 feet), at the edge of the Wiehen Hills in the quarter of Haddenhausen. The altitude of the town is given officially as 42.2 metres (138.5 feet), based on the elevation of the town hall.

The town covers an area of 101.12 square kilometres (39.04 sq mi). It extends 13.1 km (8.1 miles) from north to south and 14.1 km (9 mi) from east to west.

Minden is 40 kilometres (25 miles) NE of Bielefeld, 60 km (37 miles) W of Hanover, 80 km (50 mi) S of Bremen and 60 km (37 mi) E of Osnabrück.

Neighbouring settlements

The neighbouring towns and communities of Minden are (clockwise from north)

Town subdivision

Minden consists of 19 quarters:

  • Bärenkämpen
  • Bölhorst
  • Dankersen
  • Dützen
  • Haddenhausen
  • Häverstädt
  • Hahlen
  • Innenstadt (town centre)
  • Königstor
  • Kutenhausen
  • Leteln-Aminghausen
  • Meißen
  • Minderheide
  • Nordstadt
  • Päpinghausen
  • Rechtes Weserufer
  • Rodenbeck
  • Stemmer
  • Todtenhausen

Geology, mineral deposits and their use

Historical minecart as memorial to the ore mining in Häverstädt

The Wiehen Hills escarpment extends more than 100 kilometers from west of Osnabrück to the Porta Westfalica gap and is continued in the Weser Hills range. The escarpment forming horizons incline gently flattening to the north; they are of jurassic age, overlayed by cretaceous sediments that form the hill of Bölhorst, and tertiary layers further to the north. The underground basis is of palaeozoic material from Devonian to Permian. A new described genus of dinosaur, the Wiehenvenator, was found in the Wiehen Hills near Haddenhausen, popularly referred to as the "Monster of Minden".[3]

The Porta sandstone (Portasandstein) of the Wiehen Hills has been used as building Material for centuries and is yet to be seen at a lot of public and private buildings in Minden and the whole Region. Another valuable material is iron ore, that has been mined until to the first half of the 20th century. Mining relicts are remaining; e.g. the Potts Park, an amusement park in Dützen, is located at the place of a former ore mine.

The Bölhorst hill two kilometers north of the Wiehen Hills is formed by horizons of lower cretaceous age and, in geological sense, is the western extension of the eastward Bückeberg in the Schaumburg district. In both elevations the hard coal containing Berriasian layers reach near to the surface. By reason of the correspondence of the Bückeberg Formation to the Wealden Group, the type of coal found here was named "Wealdenkohle" in German language. Mining in the Minden Coalfield started in the 17th century during the Swedish occupation and ended in late 19th century.[4] Another coal mine in the eastern quarter of Meißen worked from 1878 to 1958.[5]

A source of 10-percentage brine with origin in the deep Zechstein series was pumped in the Bölhorst mine and once used for balneotherapy.

The last relief forming age was the pleistocene. During the Saalian glaciation the whole region was ice-covered, now verified by lots of glacial erratic rocks from Scandinavia placed for decoration in the town area. The Bastau depression, a late-Saalian Weser bed, became a marshy peat-covered area; the peat is completely exhausted for its use as firing material. In the time of Weichselian glaciation the glacier did not reach this region. In the periglacial climate of that time fine material (silt) was blown and accumulated north of the Wiehen Hills as well as north of the Bastau depression in either small west–east stripes of loess.

In the Weser depression Weichselian gravel deposits are found and used in gravel pits.

Land use

The forestal use of the considerably inclined Wiehen Hills shows a striking contrast to the nearly woodless loess stripes of the northern foothills as well as north of the Bastau depression. The loess developed to most fertile soils (luvisols) and is used as arable land since prehistoric times. Both of the stripes are also important running lines of traffic, today the federal road 65 form Minden to Lübbecke and the road from Minden to Espelkamp. The villages thus connected have developed to settlements of considerable size.

In clear contrast, the Bastau depression is free of settlement and forests and is only in agricultural use. Only one north to south directed road passes through this area in the southwest of the town area. The gleysols of this area as well as in the Weser valley depression are in agricultural use after drainage.

Compared to other towns of the same type in North Rhine-Westphalia the percentage of woodland is remarkably small.

Land use (2019)[6]
Settlement and traffic Agriculture Woodland Other areas
Minden 40.7% 49.0% 6.1% 4.1%
Towns of same type
in North Rhine-Westphalia
31.9% 42.7% 22.4% 3.0%

Climate

Minden has no meteorological station, therefore the data of the next station Bad Salzuflen in distance of 25 km (16 mi) are given.[7]

Climate data for Bad Salzuflen (Distance 25 km), (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 3
(37)
5
(41)
8
(46)
13
(55)
18
(64)
21
(70)
22
(72)
22
(72)
19
(66)
14
(57)
8
(46)
5
(41)
13
(56)
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.5
(34.7)
1.9
(35.4)
4.7
(40.5)
8.3
(46.9)
12.8
(55.0)
15.8
(60.4)
17.2
(63.0)
17.0
(62.6)
13.9
(57.0)
10.2
(50.4)
5.4
(41.7)
2.5
(36.5)
9.3
(48.7)
Average low °C (°F) −1
(30)
−1
(30)
1
(34)
4
(39)
8
(46)
11
(52)
13
(55)
13
(55)
10
(50)
7
(45)
3
(37)
-0
(32)
6
(42)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 68
(2.7)
52
(2.0)
62
(2.4)
58
(2.3)
72
(2.8)
83
(3.3)
73
(2.9)
68
(2.7)
64
(2.5)
53
(2.1)
66
(2.6)
78
(3.1)
797
(31.4)
Average precipitation days 17 15 12 15 13 13 15 15 13 14 16 15 173
Average relative humidity (%) 83 80 77 72 71 73 74 75 80 82 83 84 78
Source: [8]

The meteorological data of the whole East-Westphalian region comply with zone Cfb of the Köppen climate classification, named as Temperate Oceanic climate. This rough classification gives no suitable and detailed description of the regional situation.[9] The furthest northern part of East-Westphalia is considerably dry, though located in a small distance to the sea. This situation is caused by the main direction of the cyclones from roughly west to east with its prevailing south-westerly rain-bringing weather fronts. So the Minden region lies in the leeward rain shadow of the Teutoburg Forest and the Wiehen Hills. A cloudy weather south of the Wiehen Hills is often connected with clear sky in the north of the hills.[10]

History

Ancient history

Minden 1641 (Chalcography by Matthäus Merian)

Evidence of settlements in various parts of the town suggests that the site of Minden has been settled since the 3rd century A.D. The Minden area shows continuing settlement activity from the 1st to the 4th century, when it belonged to the Weser-Rhine Germanic development sphere.

During the Roman campaigns in Germania (12 BC – AD 16) this part of Westphalia came in the focus of military activities. It has been a matter of discussion, whether the Minden region could have been the location of a military camp where commander Publius Quinctilius Varus started from marching to the disastrous Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.[11] Likewise the localization of the Battle of Idistaviso and the Battle of the Angrivarian Wall as well, both took place in 16 AD, to the eastern part of Minden or its neighbour town Porta Westfalica is doubtful.[12] Definite archaeological proofs for these locations have yet been missing. In 2008, relicts of a temporary military camp have been found in Barkhausen, about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) south from the centre of Minden.[13]

Middle Ages

"Old Mint", 13th century, one of Westphalia's oldest profane buildings
Weingarten (vineyard location) from lower to upper town centre

The name "Minda" is firstly mentioned in a Royal Frankish Annals record referring to an army assembly held by Charlemagne in 798.[14] The location of the so-named settlement is supposed at the left river side, where today's Fischerstadt exists.[15] Directly neighbouring was the suspected site of a permanent frankish army camp and a royal estate, located favourably, where ways from the south were bundled by the Porta Westfalica gap, connected with a west-east way parallel to the Wiehen and Weser hills, and at a ford through the Weser. The region had already been converted to christianity, when about 800 a bishopric was founded in Minden, one of the seven diocese foundations established under the rule of Charlemagne. The first cathedral was built nearby to the older village.[16] After the dissolution of the Duchy of Saxony in 1180 the bishop became sovereign of the Prince-Bishopric of Minden as a constitutional territory of the Holy Roman Empire, and remained in this status until 1648. During the Investiture Controversy two bishops were nominated at the same time in 1080 both by the papal supporters and those of King Henry IV.

The Cathedral close on the lower Weser terrace was soon surrounded to the north and west by a settlement of artisans and merchants, who lived in a parish of their own. The development of the upper town began with the activities of ecclesiastical convents. A convent of Benedictine nuns removed from the Wiehen Hills to the northwestern edge of the town c. 1000 AD. In 1029 the Canonical Convent of St Martin appears, and a 1042 founded Benedictine monastery removed in 1434 from the Weser shore to a new upper site, where the monastery of St Mauritius was founded.[17] The Dominicane convent St Paul was established in 1236.

German medieval sovereigns governed their realms with an itinerant court, travelling from town to town. Louis the German hold an imperial assembly in Minden in 852. The Emperors of the Ottonian and Salian dynasty visited Minden several times.[18] When Henry IV came to visit in 1062 a dispute between members of his entourage and citizens caused a fire that destroyed the cathedral and parts of the town.[19] The visit of Charles IV in October 1377 was the last one until the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806.[20]

In 1168 Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, married his second wife Matilda, daughter of Henry II of England, in Minden Cathedral; with this marriage Henry maintained the continuance of the House of Welf.[21]

The rights to hold a market, to mint coins, and to collect customs duties were granted in 977 by Emperor Otto II. Until the beginning of the 13th century, the bishop appointed the leader and administrator of the town, with the title of Wichgraf. The citizens of Minden and their Council obtained independence from the bishop's rule around 1230 and received a town charter in 1301. The increased self-confidence of the citizens of Minden was demonstrated by the construction of the town hall, probably adjoining the separately governed cathedral precinct.[22] As a result, Bishop Gottfried von Waldeck moved his official residence from Minden to Petershagen in 1307. During his visitation journey to Germany as papal legate, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa stayed in Minden for one week in August 1451, where he tried to remedy deficits in pastoral care and clerical administration by various decrees.[23]

The economic development of Minden was influenced by its location on a navigable river and by its success in grain trading since the Middle Ages. Minden got the right to store goods and could force passing ships to unload their cargo; furtheron the town was member of the Hanseatic League. The year of construction of the first Weser bridge is not known. A previous wooden pedestrian bridge was replaced in the late 13th century by another one fit for wagon transport. In the early 16th century Minden got a stone arch bridge.[24]

Modern Era since Reformation

St John's church, now event location Bürgerzentrum

The Lutheranian Reformation was introduced in 1529 during a vacancy after the death of Bishop Francis of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. A 36-man unit constituted itself as town regiment. Reformator Nicholas Krage announced Minden's new church order based on Martin Luther's principles from the pulpit of St Martin's Church (Martinikirche) on 13 February 1530. The Dominicane convent was dissolved in 1529, and its buildings were afterward used as location of the 1530 founded Gymnasium, the oldest Protestant one in Westphalia.

Even after the reformation Minden was a stronghold of witch-hunt in Germany. There were 128 prosecutions for witchcraft between 1603 and 1684. As in nearby regions, almost all those sentenced were women.[25][26]

Imperial troops occupied Minden from 1625 to 1634 during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Protestant Swedish troops laid siege to Minden and captured it in 1634. Queen Christina of Sweden granted Minden full sovereignty in internal and external affairs.

The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 secularized the Prince-Bishopric to the Principality of Minden which was adjointed to the Prince Electorate of Brandenburg, lateron named Brandenburg-Prussia. The Swedish troops moved back in 1650, and the principality administration was led back from Petershagen to Minden in 1668. For the time being, the "Great Elector" Frederick William confirmed all traditional rights of the town,[27] but under his successors King Frederick I and Frederick William I the town was subordinated to the strongly centralized government in the spirit of absolutism. The 400-year civil self-determination ended with two town regulations from 1711 and 1721; the representatives of the town were no longer elected for a certain period, but for lifetime, and they needed royal confirmation for inauguration.[28]

The Battle of Minden took place some miles to the north of Minden on 1 August 1759 during the Seven Years' War. The allied forces of Great Britain, Hanover, Hesse-Kassel, Brunswick-Wolfenbuettel and Schaumburg-Lippe, led by Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, defeated the French and the allied Electorate of Saxony, led by the Marquis de Contades, in a decisive battle. The region remained Prussian and the adjacent region remained in the possession of the British king being the Prince-elector of Hanover in personal union.

Because the town had been occupied twice by French troops during the war, King Frederick the Great realized that the town could no more been defended in the old manner. Thus he gave order to annulate Minden's status as a fortress in 1764.[29]

The town was capital of the Prussian Territory of Minden-Ravensberg from 1719 to 1807 and was seat of the upper administrative authority named Kriegs- und Domänenkammer (Chamber of War Affairs and State Property), that ruled Minden-Ravensberg together wird the County of Lingen and the County of Tecklenburg, being prussian territories, too. The most prominent president of the chamber was the Baron vom Stein from 1796 to 1803.

The Weser had always been an important trade route, and the legal regulations of trading were of immense significance. In 1552 Emperor Charles V conferred the privilege of its merchants' unhindered trading on the whole Weser to the town of Minden. During the Thirty Years' War Emperor Ferdinand II confirmed the staple right to Minden in 1627, what means that all passing merchants were enforced to offer their goods for sale for some days. As other Weser bording towns like Bremen or Münden owned similar rights, many conflicts arose about the partly contradictory legal positions.[30] [31]

From the Napoleonic Wars to World War I

Defensionskaserne (defension barracks, 1829) on Simeon Square, now site of the Prussia Museum; in front: startimg point of the Minden planet path
Weser with Glacisbridge, view to the Porta Westfalica with the Emperor William Monument (1896)
Workers' housing estate (1899)

In course of the War of the Fourth Coalition French troops occupied the town on 13 November 1806. In the following year Napoleon founded the Kingdom of Westphalia, governed by his brother Jerome Bonaparte as the king; Minden became part of this client state until 1810 as district capital in the Weser department. Since 1 January 1811 Napoleon put Minden to the department Ems-Supérieur of the French Empire; now the Weser formed the eastern frontier between France and Westphalia. Until 1806 the area close to the cathedral was governed by clerical rulers of the catholic church as territory of its own right in contrast to the other quarters of the Protestant town. In the French time the rights of the Cathedral chapter were abolished, the still existing convents were dissolved, and some ecclesiastical buildings like St John's church were secularized and used for military purpose. Before the French troops abandoned Minden on 3 November 1813 after the disastrous Battle of Leipzig, they blew up some arches of the Weser bridge; the defect was repaired with a wooden auxiliary construction for the following decades.[32]

Minden became again part of the Kingdom of Prussia as capital both of the District of Minden and the Regierungsbezirk Minden in the new formed Province of Westphalia. By royal order it was declared a fortress once more. The fortress regulations ordered a 600-meters area in front of the wall being free of any buildings, not even vertical gravestones were allowed.[33] The refortification had severe consequences, it hindered any extension of the town area and thus the economic development. The Infanterie-Regiment „Prinz Friedrich der Niederlande“ (2. Westfälisches) Nr. 15 was stationed in the garrison from 1820 to 1919, when it was dissolved; the naming Colonel-in-chief was Prince Frederick of the Netherlands and after his death Queen Emma of the Netherlands. Frederick's wife Princess Louise of Prussia was Colonel-in-chief of the Infanterie-Regiment „Graf Bülow von Dennewitz“ (6. Westfälisches) Nr. 55, that was partly stationed in Minden, too. Since 1999, the Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 58 encamped a new barracks area in the nordwest of the town centre. The Hanoveran Pionier-Battalion No. 10 was part of the X Corps, that was incorporated to the Prussian Army after the Austro-Prussian War 1866, and had its barracks near to Minden station.

After the Congress of Vienna of 1815 had passed general principles of free traffic on the main rivers, the six Weser-states of the German Confederation annulated all restrictions and most of the financial burdens for shipping on the river by the Weser Shipping Act (Weserschifffahrtsakte) of 1823.[34] The first steam ship was put in operation in 1836; a first harbour basin was built in 1859 on the east side of the river, connected with the railway in 1863. In the first decades, the great majority of transferred goods were imported goods, export was of low importance. Inland shipment grew enormously after the completion of the Mittelland Canal and its connection to the Weser by the shaft lock in 1915.[30]

The trunk line of the Cologne-Minden Railway Company was opened in 1847 with a solidly fortified station and connected with the Hanover–Minden railway.[35] After the defortification the railway was an important momentum for economic growth in Minden.

Minden was seat of a Chamber of commerce from 1849 to 1932, when it was merged with those of Bielefeld. The dominant industry, as well as in the whole district, was the manufacture of cigars; this industrial branch decreased after World War I and finally vanished, because they had ignored the growing market share of cigarettes.[36] A brewery produced beer from 1865 to 1978.

Because of overpopulation and a lack of industry a great poverty became apparent in the Minden Land; as a result an enormous emigration began in the 19th century, especially since 1843, when people could leave Prussia under legal conditions. Various emigration agencies had their location in Minden.[37]

The town remained a Prussian fortress until 1873, when Germany's Imperial Diet (Reichstag) passed the law to remove the fortress status of several fortified places, among them Minden. The fortress walls were razed until 1880 – the town had to pay for it –, and a new Weser bridge was constructed, permitting the town to catch up economically. However, it was never able to regain its former political and economic importance.[38]

The upper class used the new conditions for construction of a new town quarter in a half-circle to the north and west of the old centre with prestigious buildings on spacious plots, but the urgent narrowness inside the centre remained.[39] A lot of buildings in the style of historicism replaced older ones at the market place and in the main streets.[40] The lack of buildings outside the fortifications was favourable for planning a road network in the outer areas of the town. Since the 1890s a sequence of six ring roads in the west and north of the town has formed the backbone of the road network.[41]

Grandiose festivities took place, when Emperor William II and Empress Auguste Victoria visited Minden and the southern village of Barkhausen for inauguration of the Emperor William Monument on the Wittekindsberg above the Porta Westphalica gap on 18 October 1896; since then the monument is a remarkable element of the southern horizont view from Minden.[42] The first line of the Minden tramway connected the basic site of the memorial with Minden since 1893, when it was yet under construction.[43] The Minden District Railways (Mindener Kreisbahnen), founded in 1898, built up a narrow-gauge railway net with three lines until World War I.[44]

The Weimar Republic and the Nazi Regime

Fort B

The republican November Revolution of 1918 passed with only small disturbances occurred in a few barracks of the Minden Garrison on 7 and 8 November 1918. A Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council, most of them members or supporters of the Social Democartic Party, took control in the afternoon of 18 November, but co-operated both with the town council and the military and civil administration as well and was successful in calming the situation.[45]

The situation in Minden got more critical during the Kapp Putsch of March 1920, when right-wing officers tried to overthrow the legal government of the German Reich. The majority of the Minden Town Council declared their loyalty to President Friedrich Ebert and Chancellor Gustav Bauer, who for their part confirmed the authority of the Minden Workers' Council. The assassination of Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau on 24 June 1922 resulted in serious rioting in Minden. A demonstration of 15,000 people in support of the government was held at the market square on 27 June.

Although the German armed forces were considerably restricted by the regulations of the Treaty of Versailles, Minden remained a garrison town of the Reichswehr with the Pioneer Battalion No. 6 and the Artlery Regiment No. 6, both parts of the 6th Division. The soldiers got more and more in connection with right-wing groups, though officially obliged to political neutrality. The military units put foreward the construction of sporting facilities, as a stadium (Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn, now Weserstadion), a public open-air pool (now Sommerbad), and a horse racecourse. Minden was career ladder station of two later army leaders: Lt.-Col. Walther von Brauchitsch organized annual horse tournaments from 1925 to 1927, and Wilhelm Keitel succeeded him in the same function until 1929.[46]

After the war the Minden District railway opened a fourth line to the coal mine of Meißen and the ore mine of Kleinenbremen, and in 1924 began to convert the narrow gauge to standard gauge tracks.[47] The Minden tram was electrified in 1920, and three lines were added until 1930.[43]

In 1929 the Melitta firm transferred its production from Dresden to Minden. Since 1935 the Chemische Werke Minden produced chemicals for pharmaceutical use, e.g. codeine; because of potentially military interest the producing company Knoll AG in Ludwigshafen had decided for a more inner-German producing location.

From 1934 to 1940 two suburbs with single-family houses of modest size (Siedlung Kuhlenkamp and Siedlung Rodenbeck) were created in considerable distance to the previous settlements.[48] Like in other communities, the names of some streets or places were changed by political reasons during the Nazi time, but most of them were reversed in 1945.[49]

World War II

Stumbling Stones in Minden

During World War II, underground factories were built in the Weser Hills and Wiehen Hills near Minden. Slave labourers from a nearby subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp were forced to produce weapons and other war materiel. After the war the machinery was removed by American troops, the entrances were sealed.

Most of the Jewish citizens were deported, dispossessed and murdered. The Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) have been laid on Minden's pavements as a memorial to them.[50]

Minden sustained severe damage from bombardment during World War II. These attacks were minor during the early phase of the war. The raid on 26 October 1944 on the canal aqueduct damaged the wall of the Mittelland Canal, and numerous workers in a nearby air raid shelter were drowned. The last and most devastating air raid was conducted by United States Army Air Forces Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft on 28 March 1945. This almost completely destroyed great parts of the town centre, including the town hall and cathedral, and resulted in the death of over 180 people.[51] At the end of the war 13% of all buildings were destroyed or damaged.[52]

When the Allied troops were approaching, the Nazi officials were ordered to leave the town to the east or the north; even the police and the firebrigade draw back, but the Mayor Werner Holle remained. The 1st Canadian Airborne Battalion of the 3rd Parachute Brigade came from Bad Oeynhausen in the south, not through the Porta Westfalica gap but over the Wiehen Hills at the pass of Bergkirchen. On the evening of 4 April 1945 they took the town centre nearly without resistance. Almost all the bridges over the Weser and Mittelland Canal as well as the canal aqueduct had just been blown up by the German Army in a futile attempt to delay the Allied advance, according to Hitler's Nero Decree.[53][54] Before the retreat the army set fire to the Granary and the Army bakery; the spreading out of fire to the St Martin's church could be avoided only with great difficulties without the firebrigade. In the first days of occupation a lot of plunder took place in the now police-less town.[55]

Postwar time

Postwar reconstructed Cathedral with new town hall on the left side, seen from the medieval arch of the old town hall

In the early post-war time the Minden region became a central part of the British Occupation Zone. The British Military Government took its main location in Bad Oeynhausen before it moved to Berlin. The headquarter of the British Forces remained there until 1954. All the German Wehrmacht barracks in Minden were taken by the British Army,[56] 466 houses were confiscated in 1945. As immediate measure the British Army set up an auxiliary bridge ("Francis bridge"), that was in use until the restoring of the regular bridge in 1947.[52]

For reactivation of German economic power the "Wirtschaftsrat für die britische Besatzungszone" (Economic Council for the British Occupation Zone) was founded in Minden on 11 March 1946, that supervised the work of the "Zentralamt für Wirtschaft" (Central Office for Economy) at the same place. The "Zentralamt" under its head Viktor Agartz fought against the policy of industrial dismantling and tried to reorganize the economy with perspectives of planned economy.[57] After the partial conjunction of the American and British Occupation Zones in 1947 to the Bizone the Bizonal Economic Council continued the activities of the Minden "Wirtschaftsrat" in Frankfurt in the American occupation zone, where with Ludwig Erhard the course was changed to a market economy.

The town administration resumed its work on 9 April 1945 on a provisional basis. Following to the foundation of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1946 the former Free State of Lippe was adjoined to it in 1947; as a result of it Minden lost its position as a regional capital to Detmold in 1947. Different to the other Allied Powers, the Britains changed the German community regulation for their occupation zone in the way of strict separation of powers. Since 1946 the Mayor was merely an honorary position as head of town and chairman of the town council; a professional Stadtdirektor (town director) was chief of the administration.[58] In the state of North Rhine-Westphalia these regulations were in force until 1998.

Parts of the Federal Railways Central Offices (Bundesbahn-Zentralämter) were moved to Minden in 1950. In course of the West German rearmament, the Herzog-von-Braunschweig-Kaserne (Duke of Brunswick Barracks) was built for the new Minden garrison of the Federal Forces (Bundeswehr) in 1959 in the western quarter of Rodenbeck and another barracks in the quarter of Minderheide.

The town centre reconstruction adapted largely to the pre-war situation, the previous road system remained, but the destroyed houses were rebuilt in the 1950s style. Even in the undestroyed areas dilapidated buildings were replaced by new ones that deviated from the quarter's character by form and volume.[59] The renewal of the main shopping street Scharn was planned by Werner March.[60]

The serious lack of housing in the 1950s and 1960s, caused by bombing and the post-war migration of refugees, was sorted with new housing areas, especially in the west and north of the centre. Furthermore, some housing estates for British soldiers' families were developed.[61]

The Minden tramway reduced the lines and finally stopped running in 1959; a trolley bus line on the right side of the Weser run from 1953 to 1965.[43]

From the local government reorganization to present day

Market square (2008)
New Town hall (view from the cathedral)

On 1 January 1973, the previously separate surrounding communities of Aminghausen, Bölhorst, Dankersen, Dützen, Haddenhausen, Hahlen, Häverstädt, Kutenhausen, Leteln, Meißen, Päpinghausen, Stemmer, Todtenhausen as well as parts of Barkhausen, Hartum and Holzhausen II were incorporated into the town of Minden. Thereby the town area increased from 29 km to 101 km and the population number from about 54.000 to about 84.000.[62] At the same time the former districts of Minden and Lübbecke were merged to the new district (Kreis) of Minden-Lübbecke, from which Minden became the capital. A new district administration building was constructed south of the town centre on the site of an old barracks; the old administrative building is to be used as a community archive.

In the 1960s many remaining problems of the town centre got more and more urgent, as for example a high population density, a great percentage of low-income persons, houses in poor condition, business premises not up-to-date, endangered pedestrians, and severe shortage of parking lots. Therefore, an urban renewal was carried out in the 1970s, within the frame of the federal law für urban development promotion (1971) and subsidized by public money. Dilapidated buildings were renovated or replaced by new structures, but the removal of timbered houses as part of this renewal was later regretted. The height of buildings was restricted to four or five storeys. The main shopping areas were rearranged to a pedestrian zone. Public traffic was kept away from the inner part with a new central bus station nearby. Since then the individual traffic has been hindered crossing through the centre, but houses can be reached by a dead end system. Two large parking areas at the edge of the town centre, an underground car park and several multistorey car parks provide parking facilities. To keep away the regional traffic two new Weser bridges and a new bypass road in the very east were built; the old bridge was replaced in 1978.[63]

A new building was necessary for purpose of administrative responsibilities of the enlarged town. Architect Harald Deilmann planned this impressive complex directly from the old town hall to the cathedral court in the style of structuralism, but since its completion in 1977 it has been discussed quite controversially in Minden's public opinion, not only for the look of the façade, but also for blocking the scenic view of the cathedral from the arches of the old town hall.[64] In 2006 a controversial resolution by the town council proposed the demolition of the town hall extensions to make room for a new shopping mall. However, a 57% majority opposed this plan in a referendum. Today the whole town hall building complex is classified as historical monument, an extensive renovation is going on since 2019.[65]

The shoreline of the Weser was improved in 1976 by extending the promenade from the Fischerstadt (Fishermen's Town). The Glacis, a park-like open space in front of the old fortifications, which was important as a green belt, was altered and made more accessible. The old town wall fronting the Fischerstadt was restored to its former height. The opposite shore area (Kanzlers Weide) has been made accessible by a footbridge. This improves access to a large parking area and festival site.

After the British troops had left Minden in 1994, their barracks areas got valuable sites for further town development.

Demography

The Bäckerstraße as part of the central business mile

Population growth

Year Population
1740 4,687
1816 6,574
1840 9,288
1871 16,543
1900 24,315
1930 28,245
1945 31,692
1950 41,527
1961 48,902
Year Population
1970 48,860
1973 80,318
1980 77,713
1989 76,321
1990 78,145
2000 83,079
2010 82,114
2020 81,592

In the region Ostwestfalen-Lippe which is congruent to the administrative region of Detmold, Minden takes the fourth place by population after Bielefeld, Paderborn, and Gütersloh.

The earliest detailed information of population number is given from 1740. In times of prussian government, Minden as a regional capital and garrison showed a gentle population growth by officials and soldiers, and then, after the defortification, by industrial workers out of the surrounding region.

After World War II the population increased by massive immigration of expelled persons and refugees mainly from former East Germany. Since the 1960s the immigration of foreign workers from the mediterranean countries to West Germany had an effect in Minden, too; initially thought to be guest workers, many of them have settled in the town permanently.

An immigration of Germans from the Soviet Union and its succeeding countries to Germany began in the 1980s, and the district of Minden-Lübbecke was one of their preferred regions. The German reunification in 1989–1990 gave East German people the opportunity to move to the west. The last current immigration period is characterized by immigrants of Near East asylum seeking refugees.

The sudden increase of population number in 1973 results from the administrative adjointment of the surrounding villages to the Minden town area.

Religions

Christians

St Mary's church

Protestant

The Reformation was carried out in Minden between 1521 and 1529. The town contains six Protestant parishes today: St Mary's, St Martin's, St Mark's, St James' and the parishes of St Peter's and St Simeon's Churches. They all are parts of the Evangelical Church of Westphalia.

Roman Catholic

According to the regulations of the Peace of Westphalia, Minden Cathedral remained in Catholic possession. During the population growth in the 19th century the small number of Catholics rose slowly, and because of the migration of expelled persons, working migrants and refugees after World War II the percentage of Catholics increased considerably among the population of Minden.

There are four Roman Catholic parishes in Minden: the parish of the cathedral St Peter and Gorgonius, and parishes of St Mauritius, St Paul and St Ansgar, which are all bound together into a pastoral combination of the Mindener Land, being part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Paderborn.

Other Christian Communities

Further Christian communities are the New Apostolics, the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and others. Many of the Germans who have immigrated from Russia and central Asian countries belong to baptistic or mennonitic communities.

A small Quakers community existed during the 19th century, but only their cemetery has remained.[67]

Non-Christian Religions

Minden Synagogue

Jewish

A Jewish community has existed in Minden since 1270 and grew up to 400 members in the 19th century. After World War II the Jewish community was reconstituted with 40 members. The Minden synagogue which was destroyed in the November pogrom on 9 November 1938, was inaugurated at a new nearby site in 1958 and is the centre of the Jewish community.[68]

Muslims

In the last half century a considerable Muslim community has grown in Minden with three existing mosques.[69]

Politics

Mayor

The Mayor is the head of the town, the leader of town administration and chairman of the city council, where he not entitled to vote. The Mayor is elected every five years.

The current Mayor of Minden is Michael Jäcke of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) since 2015 and re-elected in 2020 with 54.3% of the votes.

City council

Hanging flag of Minden combining flag and coat of arms

The Minden city council governs the city together the Mayor. Elections to the city council are held every five years. The recent city council election took place on 13 September 2020. Apart from the nationwide parties, the members of Minden Council belong also to three local associations of independent voters.

Party Votes % +/- Seats +/-
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 10,856 36.38 Decrease 4.2 21 Decrease 3
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 8,164 27.36 Decrease 0.6 15 Decrease 2
Alliance 90/The Greens (Grüne) 4,636 15.54 Increase 5.5 9 Increase 3
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 1,037 3.74 Increase 0.4 2 ±0
The Left (Die Linke) 951 3.19 Decrease 1.3 2 Decrease 1
Alternative for Germany (AfD) 1,714 5.74 Increase 1.4 3 ±0
Mindener Initiative (MI) 1,062 3.56 Decrease 1.4 2 Decrease 1
BürgerBündnis Minden (BBM) 735 2.46 Increase 0.6 1 ±0
Wir für Minden 584 1.96 New 1 New
Total 100.0 56 Decrease 4
Electorate/voter turnout 47.14 Increase 1.5
Source: State Returning Officer

Elections to parliaments

The constituencies for state parliament and federal parliament elections Minden belonged to, have been mostly won by candidates of the Social Democratic Party.

Coat of arms, flag, motto

The coat of arms shows the doubled-headed imperial eagle (Reichsadler) of the Holy Roman Empire on the right, awarded in 1627 by emperor Ferdinand II for support of the town in the Thirty Years' War. The left side shows the crossed keys of Saint Peter, patron of Minden cathedral, as part of the Prince-Bishop's coat of arms.

The red-white flag show the colours of the Hanseatic league. The town's motto is Ius et aequitas civitatum vincula (Law and justice are the towns' ties).

Culture and sights

Building complex of the municipal museum (Museumszeile Minden)
The ship mill at left bank of the Weser

Theatre and cabaret revues

The neo-baroque municipal theater (Stadttheater Minden) from 1908 has no ensemble, but is performance location for guest ensembles and regular symphony concerts of the North West German Philharmonic Orchestra (Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie). Since 2002 a project (Der Ring in Minden) has been running to perform all the operas of Richard Wagner.

Further theatre and cultural events occur with private sponsorship and are held in such locations as the civic centre (Bürgerzentrum) and the Theater am Weingarten. There are also theatre groups without fixed performance venues.

Minden is the original location of the nationally known amateur cabaret Mindener Stichlinge. Its foundation in 1966 makes it the oldest active cabaret in Germany. The town awards the prize Kabarett-Förderpreis Mindener Stichling every two years to support literary-political cabarets; the 4,000 euro prize is sponsored by the Melitta company as well as the local savings bank (Sparkasse Minden-Lübbecke).[70]

Museums

Minden has a municipal archive and two significant museums. The Prussia Museum (Preußenmuseum Minden) is one of two museums of Prussian history in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is quartered in old barracks on Simeonsplatz (Simeon Square).[71] The building served the old Minden Fortress which influenced the town until its demolition in 1873.

The second one is the Minden Museum of History, Cultural Studies and Folklore (Mindener Museum für Geschichte, Landes- und Volkskunde), housed in a Weser Renaissance style row of patrician houses (Museumszeile).[72] The attached Coffee Museum (Kaffee-Museum) focuses on the 100-year-old coffee producer, Melitta.

Minden in seat of a mill association that takes care of over 40 historical mills in the surrounding district (wind-, water-, and horse mills), which have been restored as technical monuments; on Minden area two windmills are in Meißen and Dützen, and a reconstructed ship mill at the Weser shore.[73]

The Minden Museum Railway operates with old Prussian rolling stock on the old tracks of the Minden District Railway. It is famous for harking back to traditional Prussia.

Buildings

Haus Hill with Weser Renaissance façade
"Army bakery" (left) and "Granary" on the Martinikirchhof; in front the sculpture Keilstück
Neue Regierung (1906)

Minden Cathedral dates from the 11th century, the westwerk with its entrance façade built in Romanesque style, while the early Gothic nave and aisles date from the 13th Century. Most of the old buildings around cathedral were severely destroyed in World War's bomb attacks. The cathedral has been reconstructed by architect Werner March until 1957. The nearby town hall with its picturesque 13th century arcade is a complete postwar construction in its upper floors.

The market square is surrounded by buildings in the 19th century style of historicism. The impressive façade of house Flamme/Schmieding obtained a twice daily clock display in 2010. It features the popular origin myth of last independent Saxon leader Duke Widukind shaking hands with Charlemagne.[74][75]

The main pedestrian zone in the commercial centre of Minden extends from the market place to the north (Scharn) and then turning rectangular in the Bäckerstraße (Bakers' Street) eastward to the Weser. The original buildings were usually replaced in the late 19th century, but some show reconstructed façades in the Weser Renaissance manner. North of the Bakers' Street there are few 17th to 18th century half-timber framing buildings and the secularized St John's church, now being an event location (Bürgerzentrum (BÜZ)). The pedestrian zone continues the market place to the south as Obermarktstraße (Upper market street) and leads to the upper town centre, its skyline dominated from the three churches of (from south to north) St Simeon, St Martin and St Mary, the tower of the latter being an eye-catcher over a long distance. In the southwestern part of the town centre many 16th to 18th century residential buildings have remained intact.

The upper town is accessible on a short way from the market place by the St Martin's steps (Martinitreppe) to the St Martin's churchyard (Martinikirchhof), today a parking area surrounded by the St Martin's church, the Old Mint (Alte Münze), the oldest profane stone building of Minden and one of the oldest in Westphalia, the Schwedenschänke (Swedish tavern, reminding of the Swedish occupation during the Thirty Years War), the renewed synagogue, and the "Granary" (Proviant-Magazin, now used as Weser-Kolleg school) and adjacent "Army Bakery (Heeresbäckerei, now used as St Martin's parish centre) as military buildings of the 19th century. The last two buildings belong to the so-called Schinkel buildings (Schinkelbauten), as well as some buildings round the Simeon place south of the centre, for their style shows great resemblance to the manner of the famous Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. One of the smallest buildings in Minden is the Windloch (wind hole) near St Martin's.

Some great public buildings have been placed in the glacis area since 1880 to the very modern times: the schools Ratsgymnasium, Kurt-Tucholsky-Gesamtschule, Herder-Gymnasium, Domschule, the Centre of justice, the Regional Government's building (Neue Regierung), the old district administration building (now the local archive) – both in neo-renaissance style, and the new district administration building from 1977.

As a station near to the frontier between the Kingdoms of Prussia and Hanover, the railway station was strongly fortified from the beginning in 1847. Impressive relicts of the station fortification have still remained. The station building itself is classified as historical monument.

The picturesque Fischerstadt (fishermens' town) lies northeast of the town centre along the Weser, where remnants of the old town fortification wall are reconstructed.

The Kampa-Halle is a large gym-complex for sports and other events. A new event hall is to be planned at the site of the demolished goods station.

In the old villages now being town quarters a lot of half-timbered houses have remained.

Schloss Haddenhausen (Haddenhausen Palace) is a 17th-century Weserrenaissance style manor house, still owned by the Bussche family, on the outskirts of the town.

Monuments

The Weser spitter

The town of Minden contains several monuments harking back to Prussian history. The monument of the Great Elector, the only one for a sovereign in Minden, stands alongside the Weser bridgehead to commemorate Minden's first Prussian ruler. In the glacis area, monuments are placed for the infantry brigade stationed in Minden, for an artillery regiment, for the World War I deads of the pioneer battalion, and the deads of both World Wars. Another memorial is topped by a bust of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778–1852), the "father of gymnastics", and reminds especially at the dead gymnasts of Minden. The monument to the Battle of Minden is in the Todtenhausen quarter of the town; it commemorates the decisive victory of the forces of Great Britain and their German allies. On the Great cathedral court an obelisk-like monument, topped by the Prussian eagle, reminds at the Prussian victories in the Second Schleswig War of 1864 and the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and a sarcophagus-like memorial in the glacis, designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, at Major General Ernst Michael von Schwichow (1759–1823), fortress commander of Minden.

The Weserspucker (Weser spitter) in the pedestrian zone symbolizes the connection with the river; he is spitting in intervalls. A memerial in pyramidion-form at the Mittelland Canal reminds of Leo Sympher (1854–1922), the leading hydraulic engineer of the canal construction.

The new steel sculpture named Keilstück (Wedge piece) by artist Wilfried Hagebölling, that decorates the Martinikirchhof since 1987, has been disputed controversially in public opinion. In the early 2000s the town council decided to remove the sculpture, but caused thereby legal proceedings with the artist; finally the court of appeal confirmed the location at the original place.

Parks

The old town (now the town centre) is surrounded by the Glacis, a parklike green belt replacing the fortifications after their demolition. In the western part the glacis widens to a botanical garden. It is the site of the old cemetery and features old tree specimens and thematic gardens. The cemetery was established in 1807, when burials on the old churchyard inside the town were forbidden. In 1904 a new great cemetery was laid out in the north of the centre, and in 1957 another one in the south.[76]

Sport

Kampa Hall

About 25.000 people are members of more than a hundred sport clubs, which are organized in a municipal sport association (Stadtsportverband), covering a great variety of disciplines.[77] The most successful club, the handball club GWD Minden, has played in the Handball-Bundesliga (national handball league) with some interruptions since the league's founding in 1966. GWD now plays in the "Kampa-Halle"; its previous venue, the Weserstadion. is now used for track and field and football (soccer).

Minden has a reputation as a water sports centre aided by its location on the Weser and the Canal. Several sport clubs, e.g. "MTV 1860 Minden", "TV Jahn", "KSG Minden", are specialized on water sports or have water sport divisions as swimming, kanoe and kayak sport, and rowing. The "Bessel-Ruder-Club" is a rowing club stemming from the rowing activities of the Bessel and Herder Gymnasiums (high schools).

Many organizations participate in the organization of the major water sport festival "Blaues Band der Weser" which is held every other year.[78][79]

Mindener Freischießen

Mindener Freischießen (2010)
Hahler Kranzreiten

The Mindener Freischießen (Minden Free Shooting) is a unique public festival that takes place usually every two years. It is arranged by the military-like organized Mindener Bürgerbatallion (Minden Citizen Battalion) with the Stadtmajor (Town Major) on top. The battalion is divided into six companies, a squadron and a drummer corps, each of them headed by a captain.

In the Middle Ages the right of self-government corresponded with the duty of self-defence, and the citizen battalion was established for this purpose. Since 1682 the obligatory shooting exercises were arranged as a public festival, and as a reward the best shooter was exempted from taxation in the current year. The festival's name refers to this rule. In 1685 the Great Elector changed the rule, so that the winner got a reward of 50 Thaler. This rule has remained to present days, but today it is the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia as legal successor of the Prince-Elector who pays the honour sum in present currency. Due to the biennial rhythm two winners are determined.

The festival usually takes place in June or July from Thursday to Sunday in the town centre. The Freischießen should not be confused with a marksmen's festival.

Other Events

The Mindener Messe is a one-week travelling funfair every May and every November on the wide event-place Kanzler's Weide at the right Weser shore; it was founded in 1526 by the Prince-Bishop.

The "Hahler Kranzreiten" takes place every summer in the quarter of Hahlen. It is an equestrian competition where the contestants try to catch a gallow-hanging garland while riding on a galloping horse in several rounds; every following round the gallow is lifted to a higher position.[80]

Traditional Marksmen's festivals (Schützenfest) are arranged by marksmen's clubs (Schützenverein) in some quarters of Minden like in many other German cities.

Economy and infrastructure

Traffic

Rail and bus

Fishermen's Town; background: bridge of the Minden District Railways

Minden station is cpnnecting point of the Hanover–Minden and the Hamm-Minden lines, which are part of the main lines connecting both Cologne-Ruhr and Amsterdam with Berlin, and the secondary Weser-Aller line between Minden and Nienburg. The railway station is a stop for local and express trains such as Intercity-Express and InterCity.

Regional lines:

Minden station is terminal of line S 1 of the Hanover S-Bahn to Hanover. All passenger platforms are accessible to handicapped persons. There is bicycle parking and a ticket automat.

The Minden Districht Railways (Mindener Kreisbahnen) run two freight lines, one from Minden to Hille (Mittelland Canal port) in the west and the other one to Kleinenbremen in the east. The Minden Museum Railway (Museumseisenbahn Minden) operates restored locomotives and rolling stock on these lines, in Kleinenbremen with the end at the visitors' mine in Kleinenbremen.

The main station is connected by bus of the "Teutoburger Wald Verkehr (TWV)" with the central bus terminal (Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof, "ZOB") in the town centre, where 13 bus lines rendezvous every half hour. The local buses are coordinated with the regional buses to places such as Bad Oeynhausen, Lübbecke, Espelkamp and Petershagen.

Roads

The town is close to the Autobahn A 2 from Berlin to the Ruhr and the A 30 to Amsterdam. The federal roads 61 and 65 cross in the town, the federal road 482 touches Minden as eastern ring road and connects the town with the next A 2-junction in Porta Westfalica. The divided highway south of the town travels through a tunnel to Porta Wesfalica and on to Bad Oeynhausen. The Federal road 482 runs east of the town and connects the A 2 to the south, and goes toward Nienburg to the north. Two semicircle ring roads go around the town itself, the inner route 61 provides a town by-pass. This inner ring is almost completely four-lane. The town centre has pay car parks and an automated guide to empty spaces.

Waterways and harbours

Minden is an important junction for inland waterways. It is the crossing of the navigable Weser and the Mittelland Canal. Two locks (built 1914 and 2018) connect the River with the canal to overcome a difference in height of 13 m (43 ft).[81] The multimodal transport harbours on both Weser and Mittellankanal are experiencing increasing volume because of the good waterway connections to the seaports of Bremen, Bremerhaven, and Hamburg. A new container port is in construction to the east of the present Mittellandkanal harbour, the so-called "RegioPort OWL", at the boundary to Lower Saxony, being a seldom example of cross-border planning in the Federal Republic.

Minden is location of a section of the Waterways and Shipping Authority Mittelland Canal / Elbe Lateral Canal (Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsamt Mittelllandkanal/ Elbe-Seitenkanal) for the administration of the maintenance and regulation of the Weser and Canal waterways.[82] An information centre is located at the Minden Aqueduct (Wasserstraßenkreuz Minden), where the canal system and the function of the locks are explained.

Weser bridges

There are seven overpasses over the Weser in Minden, three road bridges, a railroad bridge, one pedestrian bridge and a double aqueduct for the canal. The main town bridge connects the town centre with the eastern suburbs and the railway station. The two relief bridges from the 1970s, the Gustav Heinemann Bridge in the north and the Theodor Heuss Bridge in the south, are four-lane and lead traffic away from town centre. A railway bridge carries the Minden District Railways' tracks over the Weser toward the main station. The Glacis bridge is a pedestrian suspension bridge that provides access to the Kanzlers Weide, a large parking area and event place east of the town centre.

The next nearby road bridges are 10 km (6 mi) south at Porta Wesfalica and 20 km (12 mi) north at Petershagen.

Bicycle

The town is touched by two long-distance cycling routes: the Weserradweg (Weser bicycle path) along the complete river from Hann. Münden to Cuxhaven,[83] and starting point and terminus of the Westphalian Mill Route, that connects 43 historic mills along a circular route. A bike freeway from Minden to Herford (Radschnellweg RS 3) is under construction.[84]

The railway station provides a bike station. The town belongs to a working cooperative of bicycle friendly communities in North Rhine-Westphalia with the aim to increase bicycle traffic to over 20 percent of the total.[85]

Hiking

Minden lies on the Wittekindsweg (Wittekind's path), part of the E11 European long distance path from The Hague to Tallinn, and on the regional pilgrims' route Sigwardsweg, named in memory of Bishop Sigward (1120–1140).[86]

A planet walk from Simeon square along the Weser shore to the north symbolizes the planetary distances in the solar system; it was established in 1996, when Pluto was yet regarded as planet, and therefore has a length of 5.9 km (3.7 mi).[87]

Economy

View to the industrial estate east of the town centre
Melitta headquarters
Harting administration building by Mario Botta
Entrance to the Centre of justice

Minden is the economic centre of the district and the bordering region of Lower Saxony. It is part of the agglomeration corridor that extends along the A 2 Autobahn from Minden through Herford, Bielefeld, Gütersloh and on to the Ruhr area. Traffic connections by railway, highway, federal routes and waterways are favourable factors for growing industry and trade with about 3,300 firms and 40,000 employees in regular conditions (2020).[88] A multitude of economic branches include the chemical, metalworking, electronic, paper, ceramic, and woodworking spheres, located on industrial areas mainly in the west and east parts of the town.

According to the three-sector model, the Minden employees work in the primary sector (agriculture, forestry) at 0.1%, in the secondary sector (industrial production) at 27.6%, and in the tertiary sector (mainly service and administration) at 72.4%; these numbers are roughly in accordance to the average of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The number of about 28,000 daily commuters exceeds the 17,000 citizens of Minden, who works outside the town's limits.[88] The disposable income per capita amounts slowly below to the average of North Rhine-Westphalia.[89]

Like in other towns, some great retail areas have deloped apart from the centre in the outer parts of the town. A very special problem of Minden results from the local government reorganization of 1973, when most of the surrounding suburbs were adjointed to the town administratively. The southern suburbs of Barkhausen and Neesen however became parts of the new founded town of Porta Westfalica, that since then has developed a large trading estate ("Porta Markt") in the most northwestern part of its quarter Barkhausen, directly to the border of Minden. The now established shopping scene is situated extremely marginally in the Porta Westfalica area, but the distance to Minden town centre is only three kilometers (c. 2mi); by the federal route 65 even parts of the western community of Hille and the eastern town of Bückeburg are in the 15-minute radius.[90]

Enterprises

Minden is location of several middle-sized companies. Melitta with headquarters in Minden is well known by consumers for its coffee products. The well known Strothmann corn brandy of rye distilled liquor is produced here by the Wilhelm Strothmann Brennereien that is now part of the Berentzen group.[91]

Siegfried PharmaChemikalien Minden (former Knoll AG and lateron part of the BASF, now subsidiary of Siegfried AG in Switzerland) produces pharmacy chemicals as ephedrine, coffein and theophylline.[92] Another notable firm is Follmann, which produces special dyes and adhesives.[93] Ornamin Kunststoffwerke is a designer and producer of innovative plastic utensils like tableware and "To Go"-vessels, located in Minden since 1955.[94]

The Harting Technologiegruppe, an electronics company originally founded Minden in 1945, built an impressive administration centre near to a former Prussian barracks area in the Glacis belt; the main locations of production were moved since 1950 to the nearby towns of Espelkamp and Rahden.[95] WAGO Kontakttechnik has its main location in the north of the town centre and produces connector products for the electric and electronic industry. Schoppe und Faeser was a producer of electronics that has been taken over by the ABB Group. Rose & Krieger, a subsidiary of Phoenix Mecano, produces technical components. Another firm of technical engineering is Minda Industrieanlagen.[96] The over 100 year old Altendorf GmbH firm produces machine tools including the word leading circular trim saws.

The German retail food corporation Edeka has a regional office and distribution centre (Edeka Minden-Hannover) situated in Minden. The office is responsible for a large area from the North Sea to the Eastern German border. A 100%-subsidiary of Edeka is the low-price supermarket chain NP-Markt with administrative seat in Minden, as well as the regional retailer WEZ (25% ownership).

The DB Systemtechnik (German railway system technology) deal with the development of rail vehicles and railway system equipment.[97]

The savings bank Sparkasse Minden-Lübbecke, a regional public bank, has its main administration in Minden.[98]

Media

The only local daily newspaper is the Mindener Tageblatt. The WDR (West German Broadcast) studio in Bielefeld provides a regional public broadcast, supporting the East Westfalia-Lippe area. It produces and transmits both radio and television programs from there. The TV transmission became digital in 2006 and has its regional antenna on the Jakobsberg near Minden. Non-public radio station Radio Westfalica is part of the Radio-NRW group and transmits a local program from Minden focused on the District Minden-Lübbecke.

Public services and establishments

The administration offices of the district of Minden-Lübbecke are located in the Kreishaus (district building) in Minden. A section of the regional administration that deals with water affairs is still located in Minden.

The 864 bed hospital Johannes-Wesling-Klinikum is one of four sites of the "Mühlenkreiskliniken" hospital-complex serving the district of Minden-Lübbecke. The new hospital building was completed in 2008 and is located in the southern town-quarter of Minden-Häverstädt.[99]

Minden is site of a Centre of justice containing one of the seven Administrative courts for North Rhine-Westphalia with competence for the whole administrative region of Detmold,[100] the Labour court (Arbeitsgericht) for controversies in employee-employer relationship in the district Minden-Lübbecke,[101] and one of the three Local courts (Amtsgericht) for criminal and civil cases in the district of Minden-Lübbecke.[102]

Minden is base of a German-British pioneer battalion (Deutsch/Britisches Pionierbrückenbataillon 130) with location in the Herzog-von-Braunschweig-Kaserne (Duke of Brunswick barracks) at the western town frontier.

Education

The town provides all types of general-educating school. At present time (2022) there are eleven elementary schools (age 6 to 10),[103] three secondary schools (age 10 to 16), and five secondary schools with upper-level education (age 10 to 19, ending with the university entrance exam (Abitur),[104] two of them as comprehensive schools and the other three of type "gymnasium", a Freie Waldorfschule (age 6 to 18) and furthermore two vocational colleges.[105] The Weser-Kolleg offered adult people a "second way of education" to get their Abitur.[106]

Minden is site of a branch of the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule Bielefeld) specializing in architecture, construction engineering, technology, engineering and mathematics, social studies, business and health. Its location is the Campus Minden, a former artillery barracks area of the Wehrmacht.[107] The Medizin Campus OWL is adjoint to the Johannes-Wesling-Klinikum as one of the study locations of the University Hospitals of the Ruhr-University of Bochum within a decentralized educational concept for students of medicine.[108]

Minden offers a Folk high school (Volkshochschule) in cooperation with the bordering communities of Hille, Petershagen, Porta Westfalica and Bad Oeynhausen,[109][110] and musical education in a municipal music school.[111]

Notable people

Notable residents

Honorary citizens

Baron Ludwig von Vincke, who was born in Minden, was awarded honorary citizenship on 23 December 1841. He was worked toward the unification of Westphalia as well as Prussian administrative reforms.

Twin towns – sister cities

Decorative manhole cover

Minden is twinned with:[112]

Minden also took on the patronage for the expelled former inhabitants of the Pomeranian town of Köslin (now Koszalin in Poland).[112]

Gallery

References

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Bibliography

  • Zwischen Dom und Rathaus (Hans Nordsiek ed.). Minden: Stadt Minden. 1977.
  • Nordsiek, Hans (1979). "Zur Topographie und städtebaulichen Entwicklung Mindens". Minden. Zeugen und Zeugnisse seiner städtebaulichen Entwicklung. Minden. pp. 13–140.
  • Minden. Zeugen und Zeugnisse seiner städtebaulichen Entwicklung (Stadt Minden ed.). Minden: J.C.C. Bruns. 1979.
  • Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler von Westfalen. Band 50. Stadt Minden (Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe ed.). Münster. 1998–2007. ISBN 978-3-88474-630-1. (5 Volumes)
  • Die etwas andere Industrialisierung : Studien zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte des Minden-Lübbecker Landes im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Werner Abelshauser ed.). Essen: Klartext-Verlag. 1999. ISBN 3-88474-796-7.

External links