Herzogtum Lauenburg

Herzogtum Lauenburg

Herzogtum Lauenburg is the southernmost Kreis, or district, of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is bordered by (from the west and clockwise) the district of Stormarn, the city of Lübeck, the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (districts of Nordwestmecklenburg and Ludwigslust), the state of Lower Saxony (districts of Lüneburg and Harburg), and the city state of Hamburg. The district Herzogtum Lauenburg (literally "Duchy of Lauenburg") is named after the former Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg.

Geography

This area contains a number of historically important towns, e.g. Lauenburg/Elbe, Mölln and Ratzeburg. This importance was due to the Old Salt Route (Alte Salzstraße), one of the major medieval trade routes. Salt from the salt-works south of the Elbe river was transported northward to Lübeck. The transport of salt was also the motive for constructing the oldest artificial waterway of Europe, the Stecknitz Canal (1398). It was replaced in 1900 by the Elbe-Lübeck Canal.

The landscape is characterized by numerous lakes, forming the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park. The largest lake is the Ratzeburger See with an area of 16 km².

History

The district Herzogtum Lauenburg is named after the medieval Duchy of Saxe-Lauenburg, which was one of the remnants of the original Duchy of Saxony. The Duchy of Saxony was divided in 1260 into the two states of Saxe-Wittenberg and Saxe-Lauenburg.

Saxe-Lauenburg was also known simply as Lauenburg. While the territory of Saxe-Wittenberg changed drastically over the centuries, the Duchy of Lauenburg remained almost unchanged, until it lost its independence in 1689, when it was inherited by the Principality of Lüneburg. From 1815-1864 it belonged to the Duke of Holstein and the King of Denmark, who was one and the same. In 1864 it fell to Prussia after the Second Schleswig War. For a short period Lauenburg was still an autonomous entity, but in 1876 it was incorporated as a district into the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein.

Lauenburg was the first capital of the district. In 1937 the city of Ratzeburg, which had formerly been a part of Mecklenburg, became a part of the district.

Politics

Coat of arms

The coat of arms displays a white horse, the ancient symbol of the duchy of Lauenburg. The horse is surrounded by a black and white checked border, which represents the colours of Prussia. This is a modified version of the arms used when Lauenburg was part of the Danish monarchy, 1815-64. The former arms featured a golden horse's head on a red shield. The coat of arms was granted on November 12 1866, after Lauenburg became part of the Kingdom of Prussia. After the duchy became a district the usage of the coat of arms was discontinued, as districts were not allowed to use coats of arms. The coat of arms is sometimes displayed with a crown on top.

Landrat

From 1873-82 the Hereditary Land Marshal (Erblandmarschall) was responsible for administration of the district and the appointment of offices. The landrat, as a Prussian official, dealt only with the national administration.

After October 1 1882, the Landrat became responsible also for local administration, free from state control.

A change in government came about after the Second World War with the 1946 county statute issued by the British military government. The Landrat now temporarily functioned as an honorary head of the district council (Kreistag), which now dealt with the administration of the district directly. Later, however, the Landrat took over the district administration again.

District President

The District President (Kreispräsident) is the chairman of the district council and is selected from its members. The president chairs the meetings of the council and represents the district, together with the landrat, abroad.

Organisation

Contrary to others in Schleswig-Holstein, this district is characterized by numerous relatively small municipalities, which practise direct democracy and citizens' participation. The administration most often takes place via offices, which are often of a very manageable size. To that extent, the scope of the planned Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Structure Law will be quite significant: according to the draft of the Ministry of the Interior, a minimum size of 8000 inhabitants was to be implemented for Ämter and independent municipalities as a regional reorganization due 1 April 2007. Thus, the existence of six of the eleven Ämter of the district is threatened. However, a minimum size for municipalities belonging to an Amt has not yet been officially determined. Until the deadline, the possibility for voluntary unions exists, which, according to the draft, may as well cross district boundaries.

The economical emphasis of the district lies on the Hamburg bacon-belt, while the eastern parts in the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park with their abundance of water cater more to tourism and are largely focused on agriculture. The district belongs to Metropolitan Hamburg.

Transportation

Towns and municipalities

(Populations as of June 30 2005 in brackets)
Independent towns and municipalities

  1. Geesthacht (29,404)
  2. Lauenburg/Elbe (11,692)
  3. Mölln (18,496)
  4. Ratzeburg (13,708)
  5. Schwarzenbek (14,865)
  6. Wentorf bei Hamburg (11,433)

Ämter

1seat of the Amt

External links

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