Witzenhausen

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Witzenhausen, Germany
Witzenhausen Nord railway station
Witzenhausen Nord railway station
Coat of arms of Witzenhausen, Germany
Coat of arms
Witzenhausen, Germany is located in Germany
Witzenhausen, Germany
Witzenhausen, Germany
Coordinates: 51°20′32″N 9°51′28″E / 51.34222°N 9.85778°E / 51.34222; 9.85778Coordinates: 51°20′32″N 9°51′28″E / 51.34222°N 9.85778°E / 51.34222; 9.85778
Country Germany
State Hesse
Admin. region Kassel
District Werra-Meißner-Kreis
Government
 • Mayor Angela Fischer (CDU)
Area
 • Total 126.69 km2 (48.92 sq mi)
Elevation 141 m (463 ft)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 14,749
 • Density 120/km2 (300/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 37213–37218
Dialling codes 05542
Vehicle registration ESW, WIZ
Website www.witzenhausen.de

Witzenhausen is a small town in the Werra-Meißner-Kreis in northeastern Hesse, Germany.

It was granted town rights in 1225, and until 1974, it was a district seat.

The University of Kassel maintains a satellite campus in Witzenhausen at which is offered the ecological agricultural sciences programme, which is unique in the country. This also puts Witzenhausen among Germany’s smallest university towns. Furthermore, a teaching institute (DEULA) for environment and technology, agriculture, horticulture and landscaping. The town is also nationally known for the invention of the Biotonne – a biological refuse container – in 1983, and as an important cherry-growing area; it is said to be Europe’s biggest self-contained cherry-growing area. Cherries are traditional in Witzenhausen, which has led to the yearly Kesperkirmes, or “Cherry Fair” (Kesper is a regional name for the cherry; the standard German word is Kirsche), at which a Cherry Queen (Kirschenkönigin) is chosen.

Geography[edit]

Location[edit]

Witzenhausen lies on the northeast slope of the Kaufunger Wald, which is surrounded by the Meißner-Kaufunger Wald Nature Park. The town is found at the mouth of the Gelster, where it empties into the Werra some 30 km east of Kassel, 16 km eastsoutheast of Hann. Münden, 25 km south of Göttingen and 23 km northwest of Eschwege.

Neighbouring communities[edit]

Witzenhausen borders in the north on the town of Hann. Münden, the communities of Rosdorf and Friedland (all three in Lower Saxony’s Göttingen district), in the east on the communities of Neu-Eichenberg (in the Werra-Meißner-Kreis), Bornhagen and Lindewerra (both in Thuringia’s Eichsfeld district), in the south on the towns of Bad Sooden-Allendorf and Großalmerode and the unincorporated area of Gutsbezirk Kaufunger Wald (all three in the Werra-Meißner-Kreis) and in the west on the community of Staufenberg in Lower Saxony’s Göttingen district.

Constituent communities[edit]

Witzenhausen’s 16 Stadtteile, besides the main town, also called Witzenhausen, are, on the Werra’s left bank, Blickershausen (293 inhabitants), Dohrenbach (657 inhabitants), Ellingerode (344 inhabitants), Ermschwerd (1189 inhabitants), Hubenrode (191 inhabitants), Hundelshausen (1365 inhabitants), Kleinalmerode (925 inhabitants), Roßbach (825 inhabitants), Wendershausen (831 inhabitants) and Ziegenhagen (716 inhabitants), and on the river’s right bank, Albshausen (69 inhabitants), Berlepsch-Ellerode-Hübenthal (132 inhabitants), Gertenbach (947 inhabitants), Neuseesen (97 inhabitants), Unterrieden (914 inhabitants) and Werleshausen (503 inhabitants).

History[edit]

Witzenhausen – extract from the Topographia Hassiae by Matthäus Merian 1655

In 1898, the Deutsche Kolonialschule für Landwirtschaft, Handel und Gewerbe (“German Colonial School for Agriculture, Trade and Industry”, also called the Tropenschule, or “Tropical School”) was founded to train people in agriculture for resettlement in Germany’s colonies. The successor institution forms today a satellite campus of the University of Kassel, and includes a greenhouse complex dedicated to tropical crops (the Gewächshaus für tropische Nutzpflanzen).

Main sights[edit]

Buildings[edit]

  • Historic town centre with various important timber-frame houses:
    • Grau’sches Haus
    • Rotes Haus
    • Steinernes Haus
    • Sommermann’sches Haus
    • Meinhard-Wedekind’sches Haus
    • Persch’sches Haus
  • Liebfrauenkirche (church)
  • Historic Town Hall
  • Erlöserkirche (church)
  • Diebesturm (“Thief’s Tower”), Eulenturm (“Owls’ Tower”) and parts of the old town wall
  • Former Williamite monastery, part of the Colonial School and today part of the University of Kassel
  • Gelsterhof Estate, the former Colonial School’s farm
  • Burg Ludwigstein (castle)

Museums[edit]

  • Völkerkundliches Museum (ethnology)
  • Greenhouse for domesticated tropical plants

Parks[edit]

  • Town park with swan pond (former firefighting pond)

Politics[edit]

Town council[edit]

The municipal election held on 27 March 2011 yielded the following results:

Parties and voter communities %
2011
Seats
2011
%
2006
Seats
2006
%
2001
Seats
2001
CDU Christian Democratic Union of Germany 28.5 11 34.3 13 32.7 12
SPD Social Democratic Party of Germany 40.4 15 42.1 16 44.6 17
GREENS Bündnis 90/Die Grünen 20.2 7 11.9 4 10.7 4
FDP Free Democratic Party 2.4 1 3.7 1 5.7 2
THE LEFT Die Linke 3.4 1 - - - -
FWG Freie Wählergemeinschaft 5.2 2 8.0 3 6.3 2
Total 100.0 37 100.0 37 100.0 37
Voter turnout in % 54.0 53.2 57.2

At first, the current council was ruled by a CDU-Green-FWG coalition, but this was dissolved in September 2007.

Mayors[edit]

Events[edit]

  • Witzenhäuser Woche, partly in conjunction with German Queens’ Day (Deutscher Königinnentag), every 3 years (in 2007 more than 200 guest queens, princesses and kings).
  • Kesperkirmes, the “cherry fair” in the Old Town with election of the Cherry Queen and German cherry pip spitting championship.
  • Cherry Man (Triathlon)
  • Erntedank- und Heimatfest (“Harvest and Homeland Festival “), 20–25 August 2008, this year with Jürgen Drews as the star guest on Sunday in the festival tent at Joseph Pott Platz)
  • In 2006 Witzenhausen was the starting point for the third stage of the Deutschland Tour
  • Christmas market

Economy and infrastructure[edit]

Witzenhausen suffers – like the whole Werra-Meißner-Kreis and a great part of North Hesse – from extremely high unemployment and its attendant loss of younger people to migration.

In Witzenhausen-Unterrieden, the last producer of chewing tobacco in Germany is still in business. An important employer in Witzenhausen is, with 430 employees all together, the corporation Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA). In Witzenhausen the SCA produces raw paper for corrugated cardboard for manufacturing packagings (SCA Packaging Containerboard) and hygiene products such as toilet paper (SCA Hygiene Products). Another important employer is the district and town hospital in Witzenhausen.

Media[edit]

Print[edit]

  • Witzenhäuser Allgemeine (Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine)
  • Markt Spiegel
  • Witzenhüsser
  • Extra Tipp

Wireless[edit]

  • RundFunk Meißner

Transport[edit]

Over Bundesstraßen 27 (GöttingenEschwege), 80 (Hann. MündenHeiligenstadt) and 451 (Helsa–Witzenhausen), the town is linked to the greater road network. In Hedemünden, some 10 km away, is an interchange on the Autobahn A 7 (FlensburgFüssen). Near Friedland is an interchange on the A 38 towards Halle. Moreover, Witzenhausen is on the two tourist routes: the German Timber-Frame Road (Deutsche Fachwerkstraße) and the German Fairy Tale Route (Deutsche Märchenstraße).

Witzenhausen has a railway station, Witzenhausen Nord, on the EichenbergKassel section of the Halle-Kassel Railway. It is located above the town on the north slope of the Werra valley and is served by trains to Kassel, Göttingen, Erfurt and Halle. The former Witzenhausen Süd station stood southeast of the inner town and has been closed, like the whole of the Gelster Valley Railway between Eichenberg and –Großalmerode.

The outlying centre of Gertenbach has a further stop on the Halle-Kassel railway

Education[edit]

  • Grundschule Gertenbach (primary school)
  • Gelstertalschule Hundelshausen (primary school)
  • Grundschule Witzenhausen (primary school)
  • Steintorschule (school for help with learning)
  • Johannisbergschule Witzenhausen (comprehensive school)
  • Berufliche Schulen des Werra-Meißner-Kreises (vocational schools)
  • University of Kassel
  • Medienzentrum Witzenhausen (media centre)
  • Bildstelle des Werra-Meißner-Kreises (training centre)
  • Deutsches Institut für tropische und subtropische Landwirtschaft GmbH (DITSL, “German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture”)
  • IBZW Internationales Bildungszentrum Witzenhausen GmbH (training centre)
  • DEULA Lehranstalt für angewandte Technik GmbH
  • Folk high school
  • GNE Witzenhausen

Famous people[edit]

Town partnerships[edit]

Witzenhausen is twinned with:

Since 1979, Filton, St. Vallier and Witzenhausen have had a three-way partnership.

Between Witzenhausen and Filton, and between Witzenhausen and St. Vallier, there are regular student exchanges with the local comprehensive school. The partnership between Witzenhausen and St. Vallier came about by accident. St. Vallier’s mayor’s last name at the time was Witzenhausen, and when, on a visit to Germany, he spotted this name on a road sign, he drove to the town. Out of his visit sprang the partnership, which has lasted to this day.

Furthermore, there have been school exchanges between Witzenhausen and these two places since 2002:

References[edit]

External links[edit]

This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.