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Wolfsburg through the ages – a quick history

Blick auf den Mittelkanel in Wolfsburg mit Schriftzug der Autostadt (Copyright: Allianz für die Region GmbH - Stefan Sobotta)

Eventful, exciting, innovative – that’s Wolfsburg. A city that never stops. A young city with a rich history that goes back a long way.

‘Young, strong, innovative – that’s Wolfsburg’

A conversation with Wolfsburg’s Mayor, Klaus Mohrs

Mayor Klaus Mohrs
Mayor Klaus Mohrs (Photo: Stadt Wolfsburg)

Mr Mayor, you have been in office since 2012. How has the city changed since then?

Our primary focus is residential development. In 2011 and 2012, we realised that the enormous economic development occurring in the city and the region was creating a significant need for additional housing. And we’re working very hard in this area. The second is definitely the intensive focus we are placing on the issues of providing citizens with information and getting them involved. In recent years, we have also been increasingly considering how we can make the city more family-friendly.

Are there any innovations that you are especially committed to personally?

It is very important to me that private transport, public transport and, in particular, cycling play a greater role in Wolfsburg in future, in addition to travelling by car. Promoting sports is also one of my personal concerns, as is the integration of refugees.

What makes Wolfsburg special in your opinion?

First of all, Wolfsburg is a very green city which is a great place to live and spend your free time. And I like the city’s openness to new things. The fact that Wolfsburg is still a city that is quite young and has always had to change and wanted to change in the past gives us a very positive degree of openness to new developments. However, this openness doesn’t just extend to technical innovations such as digitalisation, but also the way people deal with one another. To put it simply, you can connect with people very quickly around here.

Let’s take a look into the crystal ball. What will Wolfsburg look like in 2050?

The world is changing so quickly that we can’t make any guesses about 2050. I believe cities will change very quickly and that we will see more change over the next decade than in the previous 50 years. Maybe we should talk about 2030 instead (laughs). I believe that we will have a sort of ‘educational cloud’ in which everyone has access to educational opportunities at all times, regardless of their location. I also believe that car traffic will have changed completely. We will primarily see electrically powered vehicles, some of which will be autonomous. Also, there will be more transport networks – from car sharing to buses and e-bikes. Smart homes also come to mind. You will be able to control your home, your heating, your blinds and your washing machine from anywhere. And I am firmly convinced that virtually all city hall services will be digital. If you have lost your driving licence, you can order a new one online. In addition, Wolfsburg will have established itself as a centre of sports and culture. There is only one thing that will not change: Wolfsburg will remain just as wonderfully green as it is today.

What are your feelings about demographic change?

To be honest, we won’t be experiencing much of that here. As a city, we are highly attractive to young families. Maybe we will even be one of the few cities where the birth rate is higher than the death rate. But what we have to change are the housing concepts. I am convinced that people are increasingly looking for different housing options. We need a healthy mix of single and multi-family houses and completely new housing concepts. We are already thinking about a networked neighbourhood and are experimenting with the idea. If you need a lawn mower or someone who can take care of your child the next day, you can enter these requests in an app and support each other as neighbours. In addition, we’re already using intergenerational living models – and we are planning such housing groups directly in new development areas, for example. And we’re thinking about how people can live independently at home for as long as possible, even in old age – accessibility is a big factor here.

What would you say if you had to advertise Wolfsburg in one sentence – what words would you use?

‘Wolfsburg is young, strong, innovative – and attractive thanks to its outstanding recreational and sports facilities.’

And we have to ask about the VfL of course. Congratulations on not being relegated – what would you say to the football club?

I am a big fan of the VfL, and I would say that we need to build a new team that is young and hungry, but also has some experienced players. And I’d really like to emphasise that it’s important not to rest on your laurels. In my opinion, top-flight sport also serves an important function as a role model for its fans as well as for the image of the city.

On our journey through time, we meet visionaries and technicians. We gain an insight into the work of forward-thinking planners and people who use a hands-on approach to implement great ideas. Wolfsburg has a talent for reinventing itself successfully over and over again. And it has done so for more than a thousand years.

Wolfsburg - a city, that never stops

Fallersleben and Ehmen

Fallersleben and Ehmen, which today are districts of Wolfsburg, are first mentioned in a document by Emperor Otto I.

"Wolfsburg" first mentioned in a document

‘Wolfsburg’ is mentioned as the seat of the von Bartensleben noble family in a document.

Completion Schloss Fallersleben

Duchess Klara of Braunschweig-Gifhorn oversees the completion of Fallersleben Castle.

The 'Wolfsburg'

Hans von Bartensleben, also called ‘The Rich’, orders the conversion of Wolfsburg Castle to its present form.

Birth of Hoffmann von Fallersleben

August Heinrich Hoffmann is born in what is today the district of Fallersleben. The linguist and poet later goes by the name of Hoffmann von Fallersleben. He is known to this day as the author of the Deutschlandlied (Song of Germany).

Start of automotive production

Heinrich Büssing is born in what is today the district of Nordsteimke. At the age of 60, he founds a company dedicated to the manufacture and sale of medium and heavy-duty lorries, motor buses and power units in Braunschweig. The Büssing name is known as a worldwide trademark for commercial vehicles to this day.

Mining

The municipality of Ehmen concludes a contract with a mining company that regulates the exploitation of salt deposits in the municipality and participation in municipal tasks.

‘Werk Rothenfelde’

‘Werk Rothenfelde’, a potash drilling company, begins construction of a pit for potash mining. Wintershall AG and the manor owner Count Werner von der Schulenburg-Wolfsburg had previously concluded a corresponding contract.

Car factory

The then-leader of the German Labour Front (DAF), Dr Robert Ley, is commissioned with initiating the construction of a car factory. This is where the Volkswagen designed by Ferdinand Porsche is to be built. The newly founded ‘Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des deutschen Volkswagens GmbH’ (Company for the Preparation of the German People’s Car) is responsible for choosing the location of the plant and the city. In October 1938, the company is renamed Volkswagenwerk GmbH.

The ‘Stadt des KdF-Wagens bei Fallersleben’

The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the Volkswagen plant takes place on 26 May. The ‘Stadt des KdF-Wagens bei Fallersleben’ is founded on 1 July. It is built on the site of the old village of Heßlingen, the Wolfsburg estate and the village of Rothehof/Rothenfelde. The plan is designed for 90,000 to 100,000 inhabitants. Non-profit housing association ‘Neuland GmbH’ begins operations in autumn 1938.

Construction of residential buildings begins

Construction of residential buildings begins. The Steimker Berg area is the first district to be completed. The city centre and building projects on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße, Suhlgarten, Teichgarten and Rothenfelder Straße are next. The Volkswagen plant is now part of the war economy and produces armaments such as the Kübelwagen (bucket car) and V1 missile. The workforce largely consists of foreign forced labourers, prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates.

Wolfsburg receives its final name

By the end of the Second World War, two-thirds of the Volkswagen plant had been destroyed. The residential districts have remained almost unaffected by air raids. And the city of Wolfsburg receives its final name, after the castle on the Aller River.

New general development plan

Heinrich Nordhoff takes over the management of the Volkswagen plant. That same year, a city planner from Hamburg draws up a new general development plan for Wolfsburg. The plan is based on a city with about 35,000 inhabitants.

Influx of refugees

Housing construction and the development of infrastructure and commercial establishments get off to a slow start after the war. After all, the British occupying forces had confiscated nearly all of the land in the city as former Nazi assets. Nevertheless, 227 new housing units are built. Due to the influx of refugees, the population jumps to 24,900 by the end of the year

City’s development

The city’s development continues. Residential buildings are erected on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße, the housing development on Reislinger Straße is started, and Porschestraße is built.

Wolfsburg declared an independent city

The first new school building in Wolfsburg, the Goethe School, is opened. The Volkswagen plant presents the city with an outdoor swimming pool, which is named ‘VW Bad’. And Wolfsburg is split from the district of Gifhorn and declared an independent city.

The millionth Volkswagen car

The millionth Volkswagen car is built and the first urban planner in Volkswagen’s home city starts his work. He sets out plans for a city size of about 100,000 inhabitants.

The Berliner Brücke

Berliner Brücke (Berlin Bridge) over the Mittelland Canal is inaugurated.

City hall and municipal hall

The City Hall on Porschestraße begins operations this year and the Stadthalle (municipal hall) Wolfsburg is opened.

Detmerode

Development begins in the district of Detmerode. Around 4,000 housing units are to be built here.

Westhagen

The development of the Westhagen district begins to alleviate the acute housing shortage.

The Allerpark

Building work for the Allerpark sports and recreation centre begins. After rerouting the Aller River, excavation begins for Allersee Lake.

Territorial reform

The territorial reform of Lower Saxony leads to the incorporation of 20 municipalities into the city of Wolfsburg, including the cities of Fallersleben and Vorsfelde. The young city now has an area of 203 square kilometres, and its population has increased to 130,979.

New theatre

Wolfburg’s new theatre opens. The building not only serves as a venue for various theatre performances but also a meeting place and communications centre.

Badeland in Allerpark

Thanks to the opening of Badeland in Allerpark, Wolfsburg now has a leisure attraction that can be used all year round.

‘Porschestraße-Mitte’

The ‘Porschestraße-Mitte’ pedestrian zone opens after three years of construction, and serves as a shopping and communication area in the heart of the city centre.

A39

The A39 becomes the city’s direct Autobahn connection, initially as a connection to the A2 Autobahn.

Eispalast ice arena and Planetarium

The Eispalast ice arena is added to the existing recreational and sports facilities at the Allerpark. The Planetarium opens before the end of the year as well. It stands as a symbol of cooperation between the city, the Volkswagen plant and the Jenoptik company from the GDR.

Art Museum

The southern end of Porschestraße reaches its present form with the completion of the Art Museum and the city council building, known as ‘Rathaus B’.

VfL Wolfsburg is promoted

A great day for Wolfsburg’s football fans: VfL Wolfsburg is promoted to the first division of the Bundesliga.

The Autostadt

Autostadt opens its doors.

City-Galerie

City-Galerie, an ECE shopping centre, opens on Porschestraße.

The foundation stone

The foundation stone is laid for the experimental landscape known as phaeno between the railway station and the Mittelland Canal.

Wolfsburg becomes Oberzentrum

As the city with the second strongest economy in Lower Saxony, Wolfsburg is named an Oberzentrum (regional centre) alongside Braunschweig and Salzgitter

The Volkswagen Arena

The Volkswagen Arena opens.

Ground-breaking ceremony for the MobileLifeCampus

Volkswagen and the city celebrate the ground-breaking ceremony for the MobileLifeCampus. The two initiators want to establish the new facility as a hub of knowledge and innovation for the areas of mobility, recreation and information technology.

Promotion of the EHC Wolfsburg

EHC Wolfsburg advances to DEL, the top German hockey league, for the first time.

regional horticultural exhibition

The regional horticultural exhibition opens in Wolfsburg.

The renovation of the railway station

The renovation of the railway station begins – the building is expanded to include a mobility centre and the tourist centre.

The Movimentos Festival Weeks

The Movimentos Festival Weeks comes to a close with a record: 43,500 people attended this festival for contemporary dance and culture.

The fifth International Suppliers Fair (IZB

The fifth International Suppliers Fair (IZB) opens in Allerpark, serving a showcase for suppliers to the automotive industry from around the world.

The new southern chamber of the Sülfeld lock

The new southern chamber of the Sülfeld lock is opened. The structure meets the needs of large cargo shipping operations on the Mittelland Canal.

MobileLifeCampus

The first section of the Automotive Research Centre of Lower Saxony opens on the MobileLifeCampus. Three out of a total of ten institutes are set up on the MobileLifeCampus.

EHC Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg

EHC Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg defeats the Hannover Scorpions in the final of the German Ice Hockey Cup.

VfL Wolfsburg wins the German Football Championship.

Bundesliga team VfL Wolfsburg wins the German Football Championship.

‘Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences’.

The University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel, along with the Wolfsburg location, is given the name ‘Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences’.

The ‘Neue Schule Wolfsburg’

The ‘Neue Schule Wolfsburg’ (New School Wolfsburg) is opened at an official ceremony.

Family-friendly city

Wolfsburg receives the Family Award of the Lower Saxon Ministry of Social Affairs, Women, Family and Health, making it the most family-friendly city in Lower Saxony.

Climate Protection Award

Wolfsburg receives the Climate Protection Award for the ‘Energy Efficiency and Monument Protection’ project.

Most sustainable city

The ‘Future Atlas 2010’ published by the Prognos Institute names Wolfsburg the most sustainable city in northern Germany. The city ranks in the top group nationwide among 412 municipalities.

FIFA Women’s World Cup

Wolfsburg hosts the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 in Germany.

Housing development campaign

The city council and administration initiate a housing development campaign – the city needs new housing.

Wolfsburg women’s team win the triple

The VfL Wolfsburg women’s team defeats Olympique Lyon and thus win the triple: German champions, European Cup champions and Champions League winners

2x DFB-Cup

Wolfsburg is the first German city to be home to two DFB Cup winners. In addition to the VfL women’s team, the men’s division also scored a historic victory against Borussia Dortmund.

Model city Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg aims to develop into a digital model city. The #WolfsburgDigital joint initiative between Volkswagen AG and the city of Wolfsburg forms the foundation for this project. This city’s digitalisation vision encompasses administration, society, mobility, energy and environment, health, commerce, security, data platforms and education. This requires a high-performance gigabit network. The fibre-optic expansion was given the go-ahead in April, thus paving the way for the creation of a digital infrastructure in Wolfsburg.

942

Fallersleben and Ehmen, which today are districts of Wolfsburg, are first mentioned in a document by Emperor Otto I.

1302

‘Wolfsburg’ is mentioned as the seat of the von Bartensleben noble family in a document.

1551

Duchess Klara of Braunschweig-Gifhorn oversees the completion of Fallersleben Castle.

Around 1580

Hans von Bartensleben, also called ‘The Rich’, orders the conversion of Wolfsburg Castle to its present form.

2 April 1798

August Heinrich Hoffmann is born in what is today the district of Fallersleben. The linguist and poet later goes by the name of Hoffmann von Fallersleben. He is known to this day as the author of the Deutschlandlied (Song of Germany).

29 June 1843

Heinrich Büssing is born in what is today the district of Nordsteimke. At the age of 60, he founds a company dedicated to the manufacture and sale of medium and heavy-duty lorries, motor buses and power units in Braunschweig. The Büssing name is known as a worldwide trademark for commercial vehicles to this day.

9 February 1898

The municipality of Ehmen concludes a contract with a mining company that regulates the exploitation of salt deposits in the municipality and participation in municipal tasks.

November 1911

‘Werk Rothenfelde’, a potash drilling company, begins construction of a pit for potash mining. Wintershall AG and the manor owner Count Werner von der Schulenburg-Wolfsburg had previously concluded a corresponding contract.

1937

The then-leader of the German Labour Front (DAF), Dr Robert Ley, is commissioned with initiating the construction of a car factory. This is where the Volkswagen designed by Ferdinand Porsche is to be built. The newly founded ‘Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des deutschen Volkswagens GmbH’ (Company for the Preparation of the German People’s Car) is responsible for choosing the location of the plant and the city. In October 1938, the company is renamed Volkswagenwerk GmbH.

 

1938

The ceremonial laying of the foundation stone for the Volkswagen plant takes place on 26 May. The ‘Stadt des KdF-Wagens bei Fallersleben’ is founded on 1 July. It is built on the site of the old village of Heßlingen, the Wolfsburg estate and the village of Rothehof/Rothenfelde. The plan is designed for 90,000 to 100,000 inhabitants. Non-profit housing association ‘Neuland GmbH’ begins operations in autumn 1938.

1939

Construction of residential buildings begins. The Steimker Berg area is the first district to be completed. The city centre and building projects on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße, Suhlgarten, Teichgarten and Rothenfelder Straße are next. The Volkswagen plant is now part of the war economy and produces armaments such as the Kübelwagen (bucket car) and V1 missile. The workforce largely consists of foreign forced labourers, prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates.

25 May 1945

By the end of the Second World War, two-thirds of the Volkswagen plant had been destroyed. The residential districts have remained almost unaffected by air raids. And the city of Wolfsburg receives its final name, after the castle on the Aller River.

1 January 1948

Heinrich Nordhoff takes over the management of the Volkswagen plant. That same year, a city planner from Hamburg draws up a new general development plan for Wolfsburg. The plan is based on a city with about 35,000 inhabitants.

1949

Housing construction and the development of infrastructure and commercial establishments get off to a slow start after the war. After all, the British occupying forces had confiscated nearly all of the land in the city as former Nazi assets. Nevertheless, 227 new housing units are built. Due to the influx of refugees, the population jumps to 24,900 by the end of the year

1950

The city’s development continues. Residential buildings are erected on Friedrich-Ebert-Straße, the housing development on Reislinger Straße is started, and Porschestraße is built.

1951

The first new school building in Wolfsburg, the Goethe School, is opened. The Volkswagen plant presents the city with an outdoor swimming pool, which is named ‘VW Bad’. And Wolfsburg is split from the district of Gifhorn and declared an independent city.

1955

The millionth Volkswagen car is built and the first urban planner in Volkswagen’s home city starts his work. He sets out plans for a city size of about 100,000 inhabitants.

1957

Berliner Brücke (Berlin Bridge) over the Mittelland Canal is inaugurated.

1958

The City Hall on Porschestraße begins operations this year and the Stadthalle (municipal hall) Wolfsburg is opened.

1962

Development begins in the district of Detmerode. Around 4,000 housing units are to be built here.

1966

The development of the Westhagen district begins to alleviate the acute housing shortage.

1969

Building work for the Allerpark sports and recreation centre begins. After rerouting the Aller River, excavation begins for Allersee Lake.

1 July 1972

The territorial reform of Lower Saxony leads to the incorporation of 20 municipalities into the city of Wolfsburg, including the cities of Fallersleben and Vorsfelde. The young city now has an area of ​​203 square kilometres, and its population has increased to 130,979.

5 October 1973

Wolfburg’s new theatre opens. The building not only serves as a venue for various theatre performances but also a meeting place and communications centre.

1977

Thanks to the opening of BadeLand in Allerpark, Wolfsburg now has a leisure attraction that can be used all year round.

7 June 1980

The ‘Porschestraße-Mitte’ pedestrian zone opens after three years of construction, and serves as a shopping and communication area in the heart of the city centre.

1982

The A39 becomes the city’s direct Autobahn connection, initially as a connection to the A2 Autobahn.

1983

The Eispalast ice arena is added to the existing recreational and sports facilities at the Allerpark. The Planetarium opens before the end of the year as well. It stands as a symbol of cooperation between the city, the Volkswagen plant and the Jenoptik company from the GDR.

1994

The southern end of Porschestraße reaches its present form with the completion of the Art Museum and the city council building, known as ‘Rathaus B’.

11 June 1997

A great day for Wolfsburg’s football fans: VfL Wolfsburg is promoted to the first division of the Bundesliga.

1 June 2000

Autostadt opens its doors.

6 September 2001

City-Galerie, an ECE shopping centre, opens on Porschestraße.

23 March 2002

The foundation stone is laid for the experimental landscape known as phaeno between the railway station and the Mittelland Canal.

23 October 2002

As the city with the second strongest economy in Lower Saxony, Wolfsburg is named an Oberzentrum (regional centre) alongside Braunschweig and Salzgitter.

13 December 2002

The Volkswagen Arena opens.

19 November 2003

Volkswagen and the city celebrate the ground-breaking ceremony for the MobileLifeCampus. The two initiators want to establish the new facility as a hub of knowledge and innovation for the areas of mobility, recreation and information technology.

16 April 2004

EHC Wolfsburg advances to DEL, the top German hockey league, for the first time.

23 April 2004

The regional horticultural exhibition opens in Wolfsburg.

11 October 2004

The renovation of the railway station begins – the building is expanded to include a mobility centre and the tourist centre.

25 May 2008

The Movimentos Festival Weeks comes to a close with a record: 43,500 people attended this festival for contemporary dance and culture.

29 October 2008

The fifth International Suppliers Fair (IZB) opens in Allerpark, serving a showcase for suppliers to the automotive industry from around the world.

22 November 2008

The new southern chamber of the Sülfeld lock is opened. The structure meets the needs of large cargo shipping operations on the Mittelland Canal.

30 January 2009

With the gap being closed between Cremlingen and the Wolfsburg-Königslutter Autobahn junction, the A39 now connects Wolfsburg directly with the south of Braunschweig and Salzgitter.

13 February 2009

The first section of the Automotive Research Centre of Lower Saxony opens on the MobileLifeCampus. Three out of a total of ten institutes are set up on the MobileLifeCampus.

24 February 2009

EHC Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg defeats the Hannover Scorpions in the final of the German Ice Hockey Cup.

23 May 2009

Bundesliga team VfL Wolfsburg wins the German Football Championship.

1 September 2009

The University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel, along with the Wolfsburg location, is given the name ‘Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences’.

26 September 2009

The ‘Neue Schule Wolfsburg’ (New School Wolfsburg) is opened at an official ceremony.

10 November 2009

Wolfsburg receives the Family Award of the Lower Saxon Ministry of Social Affairs, Women, Family and Health, making it the most family-friendly city in Lower Saxony.

29 October 2010

Wolfsburg receives the Climate Protection Award for the ‘Energy Efficiency and Monument Protection’ project.

15 November 2010

The ‘Future Atlas 2010’ published by the Prognos Institute names Wolfsburg the most sustainable city in northern Germany. The city ranks in the top group nationwide among 412 municipalities.

July 2011

Wolfsburg hosts the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 in Germany.

2 May 2012

The city council and administration initiate a housing development campaign – the city needs new housing.

29 November 2012

The Prognos Family Atlas 2012 names Wolfsburg one of the top regions for families.

25 May 2013

The VfL Wolfsburg women’s team defeats Olympique Lyon and thus win the triple: German champions, European Cup champions and Champions League winners.

25 November 2014

Wolfsburg is the first major city in Germany to be named a ‘child-friendly municipality’.

30 May 2015

Wolfsburg is the first German city to be home to two DFB Cup winners. In addition to the VfL women’s team, the men’s division also scored a historic victory against Borussia Dortmund.

2017

Wolfsburg aims to develop into a digital model city. The #WolfsburgDigital joint initiative between Volkswagen AG and the city of Wolfsburg forms the foundation for this project. This city’s digitalisation vision encompasses administration, society, mobility, energy and environment, health, commerce, security, data platforms and education. This requires a high-performance gigabit network. The fibre-optic expansion was given the go-ahead in April, thus paving the way for the creation of a digital infrastructure in Wolfsburg.

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