Friday, October 5, 2012

Hannover Here I Come

Hanover or Hannover is on the river Leine and is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany. In addition to being the capital of Lower Saxony, Hanover was the capital of the administrative area Regierungsbezirk Hannover (Hanover region) until Lower Saxony's administrative regions were disbanded at the beginning of 2005. Since 2001 it is part of the Hanover district (Region Hannover), which is a municipal body made up from the former district (Landkreis Hannover) and city of Hanover.

With a population of 522,686, as of 2010, the city is a major centre of northern Germany, known for hosting annual commercial trade fairs such as the Hanover Fair. Every year Hanover hosts the Sch├╝tzenfest Hannover, the world's largest marksmen's festival, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest Oktoberfest in the world. In 2000, Hanover hosted the world fair Expo 2000. The Hanover fairground, due to numerous extensions, especially for the Expo 2000, is the largest in the world. 

Hanover was founded in medieval times. Its original name Honovere may mean "high (river)bank", though this is debated (cf. das Hohe Ufer). Hanover was a small village of ferrymen and fishermen that became a comparatively large town in the 13th century due to its position at a natural crossroads.

Hannover During Nazi Germany and World War II

From 1937 the Lord Mayor and the state commissioners of Hanover were members of the NSDAP (Nazi party). As in most large German and European cities, a Jewish population existed in Hanover. In October 1938, 484 Hanoverian Jews of Polish origin were expelled to Poland, including the Grynszpan family. However, Poland refused to admit them. The Grynszpans and thousands of other Polish-Jewish deportees were left stranded at the border, fed only intermittently by the Polish Red Cross and Jewish welfare organizations. Their son Herschel Grynszpan was in Paris at the time. When he heard about the expulsion of his family to Poland, he drove to the German embassy and killed the German diplomat Eduard Ernst vom Rath.

The Nazis took this act as a pretext to stage a nationwide pogrom known as Kristallnacht. It was in Hanover on November 9, 1938 that the synagogue, designed in 1870 by Edwin Oppler in neo-romantic style, was burnt by the Nazis.

In September 1941, through the "Action Lauterbacher" plan, a ghettoisation of the remaining Hanoverian Jewish families began. Even before the Wannsee Conference, on December 15, 1941, the first Jews from Hanover were deported to Riga. A total of 2,400 people were deported, and very few survived. Of the approximately 4,800 Jews who had lived in Hannover in 1938, fewer than 100 were still in the city when troops of the United States Army arrived on April 10, 1945 to occupy Hanover at the end of the war. Today, a memorial at the Opera Square is a reminder of the persecution of the Jews in Hanover.

Hanover was an important road junction, railhead and production centre that was a target for strategic bombing during World War II. Forced labourers were used from the Hannover-Misburg subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. The residential areas were also targeted and more than 6,000 people were killed in the Allied bombing raids. More than 90% of the city centre was destroyed in 88 bombing raids. After the war, the Aegidienkirche was not rebuilt and its ruins were kept as a war memorial.
The Allied ground forces advanced into Germany and reached Hanover in April 1945. The US 84th Infantry Division captured the city on April 10, 1945.

Hanover was in the United Kingdom zone of occupation of Germany after the war, and became part of the new state (Land) of Lower Saxony in 1946.

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