Market church

With the weather set to be autumnal, and hurricane Ophelia threatening to pay our island a visit making it dangerous for me to go out, so I decided to take a trip down memory lane.

After one of my eye operations that had given me more sight, my husband decided that a short trip was in order. ‘Where are we going?’ I asked.  ‘Scunthorpe in the rain,’ he said, ‘so take some warm clothes.  At first I was a little disappointed, but decided a much needed a break wherever would lift my spirits.

To cut a long story short we ended taking the ferry over the water to Hannover in northern Germany. These were in the days when I wasn’t allowed to fly as I had just has a gas bubble inserted into my eye to press the retina in place.

Waterloo statue

“Hanover” is the traditional English spelling. The German spelling (with a double n) is becoming more popular in recent editions of encyclopaedias prefer the German spelling, and the local government uses the German spelling on English websites. It was founded in medieval times on the east bank of the River Leine, and its original name Honovere may mean “high (river)bank”, though this is debated.  It was once a small village of ferrymen and fishermen that became a comparatively large town in the 13th century due to its position at a natural crossroads. As overland travel was relatively difficult, its position on the upper navigable reaches of the river helped it to grow.

In the 14th century the city walls with three city gates were built as well as main churches of Hannover. The beginning of industrialization in Germany led to iron and silver trading from the northern Harz Mountains, which increased the city’s importance.

In 1636 George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ruler of the Brunswick-Lüneburg principality of Calenberg, moved his residence to Hannover and the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg were elevated by the Holy Roman Emperor to the rank of Prince-Elector in 1692, and the principality was upgraded to the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, colloquially known as the Electorate of Hannover after Calenberg’s capital. Its electors would later become monarchs of Great Britain, and from 1801, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland). The first of these was George I Louis, who acceded to the British throne in 1714. The last British monarch who ruled in Hannover was William IV, because law required succession by the male line and forbade the accession of Queen Victoria in Hannover. As a male-line descendant of George I, Queen Victoria was herself a member of the House of Hannover. Her descendants, however, bore her husband’s name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Aegidienkirche Hannove destroyed in WW, but kept as a memorial

During the time of the personal union of the crowns of the United Kingdom and Hanover (1714–1837), the monarchs rarely visited the city. In fact, during the reigns of the final three joint rulers (1760–1837), there was only one short visit, by George IV in 1821, and from 1816 to 1837 Viceroy Adolphus represented the monarch in Hannover.

After Napoleon imposed the Convention of Artlenburg (Convention of the Elbe) on July 5, 1803, about 35,000 French soldiers occupied Hannover, and the Convention also required disbanding the army of Hannover. However, George III did not recognize the Convention of the Elbe, which resulted in a great number of soldiers from Hanover eventually emigrating to Great Britain, where the King’s German Legion was formed. It was only troops from Hannover and Brunswick that consistently opposed France throughout the entire Napoleonic wars, and The Legion later played an important role in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

In 1837, the personal union of the United Kingdom and Hannover ended because William IV’s heir was female (Queen Victoria), and  Hannover could be inherited only by male heirs, and Hannover passed to William IV’s brother, Ernest Augustus, and remained a kingdom until 1866, when it was annexed by Prussia during the Austro-Prussian war.


To Hanover’s industry, however, the new connection with Prussia meant an improvement in business, with the introduction of free trade promoted economic growth, and led to the recovery of the Gründerzeit (the founders’ era).

In 1842 the first horse railway was inaugurated, and from 1893 an electric tram was installed. In 1887 Hanover’s Emile Berliner invented the record and the gramophone.

With a population of 518,000, Hanover is a major centre of Northern Germany and the country’s thirteenth largest city. Hannover hosts annual commercial trade fairs such as the Hanover Fair and each year Hannover hosts the Schützenfest Hannover, the world’s largest marksmen’s festival, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest festival of its kind in Germany. In 2000, Hannover hosted the world fair Expo 2000 and due to the number of extensions to The Hannover fairground   became the largest in the world.

Hanover, Synagogue Memorial, Rote Reihe,

After 1937 the Lord Mayor and the state commissioners of Hannover were members of the NSDAP (Nazi party). A large Jewish population then existed in Hannover, and in October 1938, 484 Hanoverian Jews of Polish origin were expelled to Poland, including the Grynszpan family. However, Poland refused to accept them, leaving them stranded at the border with thousands of other Polish-Jewish deportees, fed only intermittently by the Polish Red Cross and Jewish welfare organisations. The Grynszpans’ son Herschel Grynszpan was in Paris at the time. When he learned of what was happening, he drove to the German embassy in Paris and shot the German diplomat Eduard Ernst von Rath, who died shortly afterwards. The Nazis took this act as a pretext to stage a nationwide progrom known as Kristallnacht Pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria that occurred on November 9–10, 1938. Kristallnacht is also known as the November Pogrom, “Night of Broken Glass,” and “Crystal Night.” It was organised by the Nazis in retaliation for the assassin and 1,400 synagogues and 7,000 businesses were destroyed, almost 100 Jews were killed, and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. German Jews were subsequently held financially responsible for the destruction of property during this pogrom. It was in Hannover on 9 November 1938 that the synagogue, designed in 1870 by Edwin Oppler in neo-romantic style, was burnt by the Nazis. The first Jews from Hannover were deported to Riga  and of the total of 2,400 very few survived. During the war seven concentration camps were constructed in Hannover, in which many Jews were confined. Of the approximately 4,800 Jews who had lived in Hannover in 1938, fewer than 100 were still in the city when troops of the United States Army arrived on 10 April 1945 to occupy Hannover at the end of the war.[ Today, a memorial at the Opera Square is a reminder of the persecution of the Jews in Hanover. After the war a large group of Orthodox Jewish survivors of the nearby Bergen-Belsen concentration camp settled in Hannover.  In total more than 90% of the city centre was destroyed in 88 bombing raids, and after the war, the Aegidienkirche was not rebuilt and its ruins were left as a war memorial.


Today Hanover is a Vice-President City of Mayors for Peace, an international mayoral organisation mobilising cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020

Next week I will tell you about some of the most famous sights of Hannover.