Coordinates: 53°01′14″N 07°51′31″E / 53.02056°N 7.85861°E / 53.02056; 7.85861
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Flag of Friesoythe
Coat of arms of Friesoythe
Location of Friesoythe within Cloppenburg district
Cloppenburg (district)Lower SaxonyGarrelBöselFriesoytheBarßelSaterlandLöningenEssenCappelnLastrupLindernCloppenburgMolbergenEmstekOsnabrück (district)EmslandLeer (district)AmmerlandOldenburg (district)Vechta (district)
Friesoythe is located in Germany
Friesoythe is located in Lower Saxony
Coordinates: 53°01′14″N 07°51′31″E / 53.02056°N 7.85861°E / 53.02056; 7.85861
StateLower Saxony
 • Mayor (2021–26) Sven Stratmann[1] (SPD)
 • Total247.14 km2 (95.42 sq mi)
6 m (20 ft)
 • Total22,612
 • Density91/km2 (240/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0 44 91
Vehicle registrationCLP

Friesoythe, in Saterland Frisian language Ait or Äit, is a town in the district of Cloppenburg, Lower Saxony, Germany, on the river Soeste, 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Cloppenburg, and 30 kilometres (19 mi) southwest of Oldenburg.


In 1227, Count Otto von Tecklenburg made Oite Castle in Friesoythe, which had just been built, his residence. Farmers, merchants and craftsmen quickly settled near the castle. As early as the first half of the 13th century, Friesoythe had extensive trade relations, as evidenced by the coin find from Friesoythe, whose more than 300 silver coins from Cologne, Münster, Osnabrück and other cities were only in circulation until 1235. Today's city center was soon surrounded by a massive city wall and was long considered impregnable. 1308 Friesoythe was first mentioned as a town. Friesoythe is occasionally referred to as a "Hanseatic town" and is said to have enjoyed Hanseatic privileges. It is unclear whether Friesoythe actually belonged to the Hanseatic League.

Friesoythe in 1906.

Friesoythe shares a diverse culture in Lower Saxony history. Many cultural influences of German, Anglo-Saxon, Dutch, East Frisian, Danish and Swedish culture are noticeable in the town and citizens. The town has a large following of Roman Catholicism and small percentages of Calvinism and Lutheranism. It was part of the Duchy of Oldenburg and also under rule to the French Empire in the 18th century.

Second World War[edit]

Ruins of Friesoythe after the city was burned by Canadian troops in April 1945.

In April 1945, the town of Friesoythe was evacuated and then occupied by the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division, under General Christopher Vokes. Most of the town's population of 4,000 had moved out to the surrounding countryside on about April 11–12, 1945.[3]

The town was defended by some 200 paratroopers of Battalion Raabe of the 7th German Parachute Division.[4] These paratroopers repelled the first attack by the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) on April 13. The Lake Superior Regiment suffered two dead and nineteen wounded. German casualties are not known.

Vokes ordered the resumption of the attack the next day by The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Frederick E. Wigle. The attack went well, with the Argylls securing the town by 10:30 hours. However, at 08:30 a small number of German soldiers caught Wigle's tactical headquarters by surprise, killing Wigle and several other soldiers.[5] Lieutenant Alan Earp survived a bullet through the head.[6]

Vokes ordered an immediate reprisal. "A first-rate officer of mine, for whom I had a special regard and affection, and in whom I had a particular professional interest because of his talent for command, was killed. Not merely killed, it was reported to me, but sniped in the back".[7] According to Vokes, "I summoned my GSO1 . . 'Mac,' I roared at him, 'I'm going to raze that goddam town.'"[8]

Units and soldiers of the Argylls had spontaneously begun burning buildings in Friesoythe as revenge for the death of their colonel,[9] but Vokes later issued a direct order,[clarification needed] and the town was systematically set on fire with flamethrowers mounted on Wasp Carriers. The rubble was used to reinforce district roads for the division's tanks.[10] According to German estimates, 85% to 90% of the town was destroyed, making it one of the most devastated towns in Germany at the time.[11] Vokes commented that he had "No feeling of remorse over the elimination of Friesoythe."[10][self-published source?] The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) were awarded the battle honour "Friesoythe".

21st century[edit]

Friesoythe has grown from a village to a small city and shares traditional and modern style buildings of German architecture, Bauhaus, Victorian style, Renaissance and Baroque style. Large multinational companies are settled giving the city a modern appearance and lively feeling. Hospital, schooling, bus service, health service are all available in the city centre. The city has good communication and infrastructure and many American Germans, Poles and Russians integrated into its population.


Climate data for Friesoythe-Altenoythe (1991–2020 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 4.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 0.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 64.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 18.1 16.5 15.3 13.7 13.5 14.8 14.9 14.8 14.6 17.1 17.5 19.2 189.8
Average snowy days (≥ 1.0 cm) 4.3 3.5 1.6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 0.7 2.9 13.1
Average relative humidity (%) 89.4 85.7 81.5 76.7 74.7 75.5 77.6 79.8 85.3 87.0 90.4 90.5 82.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 64.7 85.2 134.7 171.0 191.2 211.9 224.2 216.2 163.1 112.5 69.0 54.5 1,698.2
Source: World Meteorological Organization[12]


Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ "Direktwahlen in Niedersachsen vom 12. September 2021" (PDF). Landesamt für Statistik Niedersachsen. 13 October 2021.
  2. ^ "LSN-Online Regionaldatenbank, Tabelle A100001G: Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes, Stand 31. Dezember 2021" (in German). Landesamt für Statistik Niedersachsen.
  3. ^ The Friesoythe Amtsgericht, or District Court, was closed on April 11th. If the District Court ceased to function on April 11, 1945, the evacuation of the bulk of the civilian population probably took place between April 11th through April 12th 1945. It was clearly a German and not a Canadian initiative. Ferdinand Cloppenburg, Die Stadt Friesoythe im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert, 173.
  4. ^ War Diary, General Staff, 4th Canadian Armoured Division, 1 April 1945-30 April 1945. Appendix 38; dated April 14th, 1945. National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, ON, RG 24, vol. no. 13794. Intelligence report signed: E. Sirluck, Capt.
  5. ^ Mark Zuehlke, On To Victory: The Canadian Liberation Of The Netherlands, p. 308
  6. ^ War Diary, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, April 14, 1945, pp. 10-11. Ottawa, ON, Canada. National Archives of Canada, RG 24, v. 15,005. The same entry for April 14th, 1945, is also reprinted in Robert L. Fraser's Black Yesterdays; the Argylls’s War, p. 431. Interview with Alan Earp.
  7. ^ All the published accounts relate that Col. Wigle was shot in the back. However, Dr. Doug Bryce, the Medical Officer of the Argylls, said that he was shot in the head. Dr. Bryce thought very highly of Wigle ("the most wonderful man I have ever met"). Interview with Dr. Bryce, May 11, 1998.
  8. ^ Chris Vokes, Vokes: My Story, 194-195. A similar account of Vokes and his role in the destruction of Friesoythe is found in Tony Foster’s Meeting of Generals, 437.
  9. ^ Robert L. Fraser, Black Yesterdays; the Argylls' War. See the section entitled "The Burning of Friesoythe?" on pp. 435–437.
  10. ^ a b Tony Foster, Meeting of Generals, iUniverse, 2000, ISBN 978-0595137503, p. 437.
  11. ^ Cloppenburg, Ferdinand (1996). "Die Stadt Friesoythe im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert". Brockhaus Enzyklopädie. Vol. 7 (20th ed.). Leipzig: Brockhaus. pp. 165, 189.
  12. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1991–2020". World Meteorological Organization Climatological Standard Normals (1991–2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Archived from the original on 12 October 2023. Retrieved 12 October 2023.


  • G. L. Cassidy, Warpath; the Story of the Algonquin Regiment, 1939–1945. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1948.
  • Ferdinand Cloppenburg, Die Stadt Friesoythe im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert. Friesoythe: Cloppenburg, 2003. Limited to 1,000 copies.
  • Tony Foster, Meeting of Generals. Toronto; New York: Methuen, c1986.
  • Robert L. Fraser, ed. Black Yesterdays; the Argylls' War. Hamilton, ON: Argyll Regimental Foundation, 1996. A work of 608 pp., numerous photographs, many illustrations, (some col.) limited to 1,000 copies. A lavish, massive, even monumental history of the Canadian Argylls during World War II and a model of its kind.
  • Friesoythe 25 Jahre danach: 1945-1970. Friesoythe: Stadt Friesoythe, 1970.
  • Landkreis Emsland. Wege aus dem Chaos; Das Emsland und Niedersachsen 1945-1949. Begleitbuch zur Ausstellung. 2. Aufl. Hrsg. vom Landkreis Emsland. Meppen: 1988.
  • C. P. Stacey, A Date with History; Memoirs of a Canadian Historian. Ottawa, ON: Deneau, c1983?
  • C. P. Stacey, Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War. Vol. III. The Victory Campaign; the Operation in North-West Europe, 1944–1945. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1960.
  • Chris Vokes, Vokes, My Story. By Major General Chris Vokes with John P. Maclean. Memorial Edition. Ottawa, ON: Gallery Books, 1985.
  • War Diary, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, April 14, 1945, pp. 10–11. Ottawa, ON, Canada. National Archives of Canada, RG 24, v. 15,005
  • War Diary, 1st Battalion, The Lake Superior Regiment (Motor), April 12, 1945, sheet 15. Ottawa, ON, Canada. National Archives of Canada, RG 24, Vol. 15,099.
  • War Diary, General Staff, 4th Canadian Armoured Division, April 14, 1945, p. 15. Ottawa, ON, Canada. National Archives of Canada, RG 24, no. 13,794.
  • August Wöhrmann, "Die Kämpfe 1945 in und um Friesoythe," IN Friesoythe 25 Jahre danach: 1945-1970 (Friesoythe: Stadt Friesoythe, 1970) 8-29. Wöhrmann was the first to make a serious examination of the issue, and this work is a ground-breaking study of great value which identifies many of the relevant sources. Unfortunately Wöhrmann, a former soldier himself, reports he was unable to make any contact with the German paratroopers who defended Friesoythe.

External links[edit]