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Wilhelmshaven

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Wilhelmshaven is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated at the western coast of the Jadebusen, which is a bay of the North Sea. Population: 89,000 (1999).

Contents

History

Wilhelmshaven is a relatively young city by German standards. In need of a naval base for Prussia's developing fleet, Prussian king Wilhelm I founded the town in 1869.

There was a castle at the place as early as 1383, the Sibetsburg; this castle was owned by pirates and destroyed in 1433 by the Hanseatic League. Four centuries later the kingdom of Prussia planned to establish a fleet and a harbour on the North Sea. In 1853, Prince Adalbert of Prussia arranged the Jade Treaty [Jade-Vertrag] with the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, in which Prussia and the grand duchy entered into a contract: 3.13 km² of Oldenburgian territory at the Jadebusen should be ceded to Prussia. Wilhelm I (later to become the German emperor of the same name) inaugurated the port sixteen years later and gave it his name.

Wilhelmshaven grew to become one of the most important German ports. The duchy of Oldenburg benefited as well from the port; adjacent to Wilhelmshaven the town of Rüstringen was founded on the Oldenburgian territory. Wilhelmshaven and Rüstringen were merged in 1937.

In World War II the city, which was occupied by the German navy, was bombed by Allied air attacks; two thirds of the town's buildings were destroyed.

Wilhelmshaven today

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Kaiser Wilhelm Bridge

After the war the harbour was used not only for military purposes, but for economy and tourism as well. Today, Wilhelmshaven is Germany's main naval base at the North Sea again. It is also the third largest German port (after Hamburg and Bremen) with mainly oil products being loaded and unloaded. Besides the military chemical industries and a refinery are the main employers of Wilhelmshaven which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the western part of Germany. The oil terminal and the refinery are connected with other German industrial centres by pipelines.

Economical hopes rest in three major development projects:

  • the JadeWeserPort project for a deep water container port to be constructed 2005 - 2010, capable to even berth the largest container vessels presently under construction
  • the further development of the chemical industry
  • the proposed coastal highway (Küstenautobahn) connecting north-western German industrial centres at the Elbe, Weser, and Ems rivers.

Sights

In Wilhelmshaven there is the German Navy Museum, an aquarium with native animals from the North Sea, the information centre of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park. The town's landmark is the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke ("Emperor Wilhelm Bridge"), which crosses an inlet of the Jadebusen. It was built in 1908; with a length of 159 m it was once the greatest swing bridge of Europe.

Twinned Cities

Template:Commonsde:Wilhelmshaven it:Wilhelmshaven nl:Wilhelmshaven no:Wilhelmshaven nds:Willemshaven fi:Wilhelmshaven sv:Wilhelmshaven

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