Hannover is the largest city and capital of the German state of Lower Saxony. In the present day, the Hannover region currently has approximately 1.16 million inhabitants. The city is located at the conjunction of the River Leine and River Ihme. The city of Hannover was founded during the medieval period. It is thought that the original name of the city, “Honovere”, means high river bank. Hannover started as a small fishing village. In the 13th century, it grew into a large town and received town privileges in 1241. The river assisted in increasing trade in the town. Hannover was connected to Bremen, a member of the Hanseatic League, by the River Leine and located near the Harz mountains and North German Plain, so traffic passed through the town. Hannover became a gateway to the Rhine, Saar, and Ruhr river valleys. The main churches and a city wall in Hannover were built in the 14th century. The city began trading in silver and iron which increased its importance. Duke George of Brunswick-Lüneburg moved to Hannover in 1636. The Holy Roman Emperor elevated his rank to Prince-Elector in 1692 and in 1708 the Imperial Diet confirmed the title. Hannover was then upgraded to the Electorate of Hannover. During the Seven Years’ War, the French Army defeated the Hannoverian Army of Observation at the Battle of Hastenbeck, which led to the city’s occupation. A year later, Anglo-German forces recaptured the city.

On July 5, 1803, Napoleon imposed the Convention of Artlenburg and French soldiers occupied Hannover yet again and the Hannoverian Army was disbanded. Soldiers from Hannover travelled to Britain where the King’s German Legion was formed. The Legion would play an important role in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna was elevated to the status of Kingdom. In 1837, Ernest Augustus became the ruler of Hannover. In 1842, the first horse railway was established in Hannover. During the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, Hannover became annexed and became the capital of the Prussian province of Hannover. The citizens of Hannover were not complicit in the annexation and openly opposed the Prussian government. The connection with Prussia was beneficial for the economy in Hannover and between 1879 and 1902, Hannover’s population grew from 87,600 to 313,940. In 1893, an electric train was established in place of the horse railway. Emile Berliner of Hannover invented the record and gramophone in 1887.

As the NSDAP grew in influence, the mayor and state commissioners became members of the party in 1937. 484 Hannoverian Jews of Polish descent were expelled to Poland in October 1938. Poland refused to accept them which left them stranded at the border. On November 8, 1938, the synagogue of Hannover, which was designed in 1870, was burned down by the Nazis. The “Action Lauterbacher” plan began in September 1941 where the remaining Hannoverian Jewish families were ghettoized. By December 15, 1941, the first Jewish people from Hannover were deported to Riga. During World War II, the Nazis built seven concentration camps in Hannover. Approximately 4,800 Jewish people lived in Hannover in 1938, and when the United States Army arrived to occupy Hannover on April 10, 1945, less than 100 Jewish people remained. In the present day, there is a memorial at the Opera Square in Hannover for the Jewish people who were murdered during the war. Throughout the war, Hannover was a major target for Allied bombing due to its railroad and production center. Residential areas were also targeted during the bombing and over 6,000 civilians died. Over 90% of the city center of Hannover was destroyed. After the war, Hannover became part of the British zone of occupation and became part of the new state of Lower Saxony in 1946.

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