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Gelsenkirchen-Buer looking south towards downtown Gelsenkirchen, 1955.
The same view as above 50 years later
In the city-forest of Buer (Buerscher Stadtwald).
A former mining settlement.
Contrasts in the inner-city.
Sciencepark in Ückendorf (Wissenschaftspark).
Gelsenkirchen ( ) is a city in North Rhine-Westphaliamarker, Germanymarker. It is located in the northern part of the Ruhr area. Its population in 2006 was c. 267,000.

Gelsenkirchen was first documented in 1150, but it remained a tiny village until the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution led to the growth of the entire area. In 1840, when the mining of coal began, 6000 inhabitants lived in Gelsenkirchen; in 1900 the population had increased to 138,000.

In the early 20th century Gelsenkirchen was the most important coal mining town in Europe. It was called the "city of a thousand fires", for the flames of mine gasses being flared during the nights. In 1928 Gelsenkirchen was merged with the adjoining cities of Buermarker and Horst. The city bore the name Gelsenkirchen-Buer, until it was renamed Gelsenkirchen in 1930. During the Nazi era Gelsenkirchen remained a centre of coal production and oil refining, and for this reason it was bombed by Allied air raids in World War II. During the war, it was the site of a women's subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration campmarker. Today in Gelsenkirchen there are no collieries any more and Gelsenkirchen is searching for a new image, having been hit for decades with one of the highest unemployment rates of Germany. Today Germany's largest solar power plant is located in the city. In Gelsenkirchen-Scholven there is a coal fired power station with the tallest chimneys in Germany (302 m). Gelsenkirchen is home of the famous football club Schalke 04, which is named after the borough Schalke, while the club's arena - the Veltins-Arenamarker - is located in the borough Erle.


Ancient and Medieval times

Although the part of town now called Buer was first mentioned by Heribert I in a document as Puira in 1003, there were hunting people on a hill north of the Emschermarker as early as the Bronze Age — and therefore earlier than 1000 BC. They did not live in houses as such, but in small yards gathered together near each other. Later, the Romans pushed into the area. In about 700, the region was settled by the Saxons. A few other parts of town which today lie in Gelsenkirchen's north end were mentioned in documents from the early Middle Ages, some examples being: Raedese (nowadays Resse), Middelvic (Middelich, today part of Resse), Sutheim (Sutum; today part of Beckhausen) and Sculven (nowadays Scholven). Many nearby farming communities were later identified as iuxta Bure ("near Buer").

It was about 1150 when the name Gelstenkerken or Geilistirinkirkin cropped up for the first time. At about the same time, the first church in town was built in what is now Buer. This ecclesia Buron ("church at Buer") was listed in a directory of parish churches by the sexton from Deutz, Theodericus. This settlement belonged to the Mark. However, in ancient times and even in the Middle Ages, only a few dozen people actually lived in the settlements around the Emscher basin.


Up until the middle of the 19th century, the area in and around Gelsenkirchen was only thinly settled and almost exclusively agrarian. In 1815, after temporarily belonging to the Grand Duchy of Bergmarker, the land now comprising the city of Gelsenkirchen passed to the Kingdom of Prussiamarker, which assigned it to the province of Westphaliamarker. Whereas the Gelsenkirchen of that time — not including today's north-end communities, such as Buer — was put in the Amt of Wattenscheidmarker in the Bochum district, in the governmental region of Arnsbergmarker, Buer, which was an Amt in its own right, was along with nearby Horst joined to Recklinghausen districtmarker in the governmental region of Münstermarker. This arrangement came to an end only in 1928.

After the discovery of coal — lovingly known as "Black Gold" — in the Ruhr area in 1840, and the subsequent industrialization, the Cologne-Mindenmarker Railway and the Gelsenkirchen Main Railway Station were opened. In 1868, Gelsenkirchen became the seat of an Amt within the Bochum district which encompassed the communities of Gelsenkirchen, Braubauerschaft (as of 1900, Bismarck), Schalke, Heßler, Bulmke and Hüllen.

Friedrich Grillo founded the Corporation for Chemical Industry (Aktiengesellschaft für Chemische Industrie) in Schalke in 1872, and also the Schalke Mining and Ironworks Association (Schalker Gruben- und Hüttenverein). A year later, and once again in Schalke, he founded the Glass and Mirror Factory Incorporated (Glas- und Spiegel-Manufaktur AG).

After Gelsenkirchen had become an important heavy-industry hub, it was raised to city in 1875.

Gelsenkirchen becomes a city

In 1885, after Bochum district was split up, Gelsenkirchen became the seat of its own district (Kreis), which would last until 1926. The cities of Gelsenkirchen and Wattenscheid, as well as the Ämter of Braubauerschaft (as of 1900, Bismarckmarker), Schalke, Ückendorf, Wannemarker and Wattenscheidmarker all belonged to the Gelsenkirchen district. A few years later, in 1896, Gelsenkirchen was split away from Gelsenkirchen district to become an independent city ( ). In 1891, Horst was split away from the Amt of Buer, which itself was raised to city in 1911, and to an independent city the next year. Meanwhile, Horst became the seat of its own Amt. In 1924, the rural community of Rotthausen, which until then had belonged to the Essen district, was made part of the Gelsenkirchen district.

In 1928, under the Prussian local government reforms, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Buer along with the Amt of Horst together became a new kreisfreie Stadt called Gelsenkirchen-Buer, effective as of 1 April that year. From that time, the whole city area belonged to the governmental district of Münster. In 1930, on the city's advice, the city's name was changed to Gelsenkirchen, effective 21 May. By this time, the city was home to about 340,000 people.

In 1931, the Gelsenkirchen Mining Corporation ( ) founded the Gelsenberg Petrol Corporation ( ). In 1935, the Hibernia Mining Company founded the Hydrierwerk Scholven AG GE-Buer hydrogenation plant. Scholven/Buer began operation in 1936 and achieved a capacity of "200,000 tons/year of finished product, mainly aviation base gasoline.".[26850] After 1937, Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG opened the Nordstern plant for converting bituminous coal to synthetic oil.

The Third Reich

The November 9, 1938 Kristallnacht anti-Jewish riots destroyed Jewish businesses, dwellings, and cemeteries, and a synagogue in Buer and one in downtown Gelsenkirchen. (A new downtown Gelsenkirchen synagogue was opened on 1 February 2007.)

Gelsenkirchen was a target of strategic bombing during World War II, particularly during the 1943 Battle of the Ruhr and the Oil Campaign of World War II. Three quarters of Gelsenkirchen was destroyed and many above-ground air-raid shelters such as at Hans-Sachs-Haus downtown and the town hall in Buer are in nearly original form.

The Gelsenberg Lagermarker subcamp of KZ Buchenwaldmarker was established in 1944 to provide forced labor of about 2000 Hungarian women and girls for Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG. About 150 died during September 1944 bombing raids (shelters and protection ditches was forbidden to them). GELSENZENTRUM Documentationcenter for urban and contemporary history

From 1933 to 1945, the city's mayor was the appointed Nazi Carl Engelbert Böhmer. In 1994, the Institute for City History opened the Documentation centre - Gelsenkirchen under National Socialism ( ).

After the war

On 17 December 1953, the Kokerei Hassel went into operation, billed as Germany's "first new coking plant" since the war. When postal codes (Postleitzahlen) were introduced in 1961, Gelsenkirchen was one of the few cities in West Germanymarker to be given two codes: Buer was given 466, while Gelsenkirchen got 465. These were in use until 1 July 1993. The "first comprehensive school in North Rhine-Westphaliamarker" was opened in 1969. Scholven-Chemie AG (the old hydrogenation plant) merged with Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG to form the new corporation VEBA-Oel AG. In 1987, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass before 85,000 people at Gelsenkirchen's Parkstadion. The Pope also became an honorary member of FC Schalke 04.

In 1997, the Federal Garden Show (Bundesgartenschau or BUGA) was held on the grounds of the disused Nordstern coalmine in Horst. In 1999, the last phase of the Emscher Park International Building Exhibition, an undertaking that brought together many cities in North Rhine-Westphalia, was held. Coke was produced at the old Hassel coking works for the last time on 29 September 1999. This marked the shutdown of the last coking plant in Gelsenkirchen, after being a coking town for more than 117 years. In the same year, Shell Solar Deutschland AG took over production of photovoltaic equipment. On 28 April 2000, the Ewald-Hugo colliery closed — Gelsenkirchen's last colliery. Three thousand coalminers lost their jobs. In 2003, Buer celebrated its thousandth anniversary of first documentary mention, and FC Schalke 04 celebrated on 4 May 2004 its hundredth anniversary.

Today, Gelsenkirchen is a centre for sciences, services, and production, with good infrastructure.

Population development

The following figures are estimates, census data, or official extrapolations of Gelsenkirchen's population at various times.

Population development
Year Population figure
1798 ca. 350
1838 505
1871 7,825
1875 11,295
1 December 1890 ¹ 28,057
1 December 1895 ¹ 31,582
1 December 1900 ¹ 36,937
1903 138.000
1 December 1905 ¹ 147,005
1 December 1910 ¹ 169,513
1914 175,000
8 October 1919 ¹ 168,557
16 June 1925 ¹ 208,512
1928 340,077
Year Population figure
16 June 1933 ¹ 332,545
17 May 1939 ¹ 317,568
1945 160,000
13 September 1950 ¹ 315,460
1959 391,745
6 June 1961 ¹ 382,689
31 December 1970 347,100
30 June 1975 325,400
30 June 1980 305,600
30 June 1985 286,500
1 January 1989 287,255
30 June 1997 287,800
31 December 2003 272,445
31 December 2004 270,107
¹ Census figures

Economy and infrastructure

Headquarters of the Gelsenwasser AG
Highways and main roads in Gelsenkirchen
Stadtbahn at main railway station
The VELTINS Arena AufSchalke
Gelsenkirchen presents itself above all as a centre of solar technology. Shell Solar Deutschland GmbH produces solar cells in Rotthausen. Scheuten Solar Technology has taken over its solar panel production. There are other large businesses in town: THS GmbH, Gelsenwasser, e.on, BP Gelsenkirchen GmbH, Shell Solar Deutschland GmbH and Pilkington. According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, Gelsenkirchen is, after Leipzigmarker, Karlsruhemarker and Bremenmarker, Germany's fourth business-friendliest city.


Gelsenkirchen lies on Bundesautobahnen A 2, A 40, A 42 and A 52, as well as on Bundesstraßen (Federal Highways) B 224, B 226 and B 227. Gelsenkirchen's main railway station lies at the junction of the Oberhausenmarker-Gelsenkirchen-Hernemarker-Dortmundmarker and Essenmarker-Gelsenkirchen-Recklinghausenmarker-Münstermarker lines.

As for waterways, Gelsenkirchen can be reached along the Rhine-Herne Canal, where a commercial-industrial harbour is to be found. The harbour has a yearly turnover of 2 000 000 t and a water surface area of about 1.2 km², one of Germany's biggest and most important canal harbours, and is furthermore connected to Deutsche Bahn's railway network.

Local transport in Gelsenkirchen is afforded by trams and buses run by the Bochum-Gelsenkirchener Straßenbahn AG (BOGESTRA), as well as by Vestische Straßenbahnen GmbH in the city's north end (despite its name, it nowadays runs only buses). The Stadtbahn train U17, which connects Horst to Essenmarker, as well as tram line 107, which connects Gelsenkirchen Central Station to Essen, are operated by EVAG. Tram line 302 connects the city to Bochummarker. All these services have an integrated fare structure within the VRR. There are three tram lines, one light rail line, and about 50 bus routes in Gelsenkirchen.


Gelsenkirchen is the headquarters of the Verband Lokaler Rundfunk in Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V. (VLR) (Network of Local Radio in North Rhine-Westphalia Registered Association (VLR). REL (Radio Emscher-Lippe) is also headquartered in Gelsenkirchen.

Among newspapers, the Buersche Zeitung was a daily till 2006. Then the paper was closed down, though economically there was no reason for it. The Dortmundmarker paper Ruhr-Nachrichten did the local news section. Now, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung is the only local newspaper in Gelsenkirchen and has so to say a monopoly. The local radio station REL also reports the local news.

There is also a free weekly newspaper, the Stadtspiegel Gelsenkirchen, along with monthly, or irregular, local publications called the Familienpost and the Beckhausener Kurier.


On the occasion of the 2006 FIFAmarker world football championship, the transport infrastructure in Gelsenkirchen leading to the Veltins-Arenamarker underwent modifications. Likewise, the main railway station is undergoing extensive reconstruction, with completion planned in time for the championship.


Gelsenkirchen has 51 elementary schools (36 "community" schools, 12 Catholic schools, 3 Evangelical schools), 8 Hauptschulen, 6 Realschulen, 7 Gymnasien, and 4 Gesamtschule, among which the Gesamtschule Bismarck, as the only comprehensive school run by the Westphalian branch of the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church, warrants special mention.

The Fachhochschule Gelsenkirchen, founded in 1992, has campuses in Bocholt and Recklinghausen with the following course offerings: Economics, Computer Science, Physical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Supply and Disposal Engineering.

Also found in Gelsenkirchen is one of the seven locations of the Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung NRW (Fachhochschule for public administration North Rhine-Westphalia) offering as fields of study Municipal Administrative Service, Police Training, and Administrative Economics. There is also a folk high school as well as a city library with three branches in Horst, Buer and Erle with more than 700,000 books, films, and CDs.


Gelsenkirchen is home of the football club FC Schalke 04. Schalke's home ground, Veltins-Arenamarker, is generally regarded as one of the most innovative stadiums built in recent years. It was one of 12 German cities to host matches during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and has already hosted the matches between Poland and Ecuador, Argentina and Serbia and Montenegro, Portugal and Mexico and USA and Czech Republic.

Gelsenkirchen has also hosted two important Yugoslav games. These games were Serbia's two largest FIFA world cup defeats. They were a 6-0 loss to Argentina and a 9-0 win over Zaire.

Points of interest

Twinned towns

See also


  1. Edward Victor. Alphabetical List of Camps, Subcamps and Other %20 of %20 camps. htm.

External links

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