Definitions

Mecklenburg vorpommern

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

[mek-luhn-boork-fohr-pawm-uhrn]
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, sometimes translated as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania or Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, is a state in northern Germany comprising two regions, Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania (Vorpommern, also Hither Pomerania) and has its capital in Schwerin. Due to its lengthy name, the state is often abbreviated as MV, and sometimes also shortened to Meck-Pomm.

The state was formed in the aftermath of World War II from Mecklenburg and the remainder of the former Province of Pomerania, after most of this province and the corresponding region of Pomerania became Polish. With the establishment of East Germany (GDR), the state's name was shortened to "Mecklenburg" before being dissolved into three districts. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was recreated after the GDR regime's collapse and is a state of reunited Germany since 1990.

The Baltic Sea coastline and its islands (such as Rügen), the cities, as well as the Mecklenburg Lake District are very popular with tourists, making the state one of Germany's leading tourist destinations. Moreover, the universities of Rostock (est. 1419) and Greifswald (est. 1456) are amongst the oldest in Europe. This German Bundesland is also one of the least densely populated federal-states in contemporary Germany with abundant nature and farmland dotting the bucolic landscape.

Major cities include Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Stralsund, Greifswald and Wismar.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was the site of the 2007 G8 summit.

History

In 1945, the state was constituted from Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania, both of which had a rich history before.

History of Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania before 1945

About two thousand years ago, Germanic tribes settled the later Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania area. Most of them left during the migration period and were replaced or assimilated by Polabian Slavs following the 6th century. While the western part of the later Mecklenburg was settled by the Obodrites, the East as well as southern Western Pomerania was settled by the Veleti (later Liuticians), while the northern part of the latter was inhabited by the Rani. Along the coast, Vikings established trade posts like Reric, Ralswiek and Menzlin. Except for the Rani, later Danish Principality of Rügen, the area was conquered by Henry the Lion in the 1160s and incorporated in the Duchy of Saxony, joining the Holy Roman Empire in the 1180s. All of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was settled with Germans in the Ostsiedlung process starting in the 12th century.

Mecklenburg

(main article: Mecklenburg)

In the late 12th century, Henry the Lion, Duke of the Saxons, conquered the Obotrites, subjugated its Nikloting dynasty, and Christianised its people. In the course of time, German monks, nobility, peasants and traders arrived to settle here. After the 12th century, the territory remained stable and relatively independent of its neighbours; one of the few German territories for which this is true. Mecklenburg first became a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire in 1348. Though later partitioned and re-partitioned within the same dynasty, Mecklenburg always shared a common history and identity. The states of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz became Grand Duchies in 1815. After the First World War and the abdication of the German Kaiser, the monarchy was abolished and a republican government of Mecklenburg was established.

Vorpommern

(main articles: History of Vorpommern, History of Pomerania)

Vorpommern (English: Western, Lower or Hither Pomerania) is the smaller, western part of the formerly German region of Pomerania; the eastern part has been part of Poland since the end of the Second World War. In the Middle Ages, the area was ruled by the Pomeranian dukes as part of the Duchy of Pomerania. Thereafter it was under Swedish rule after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The southern part (Altvorpommern) of Swedish Pomerania became Prussian in 1720, the northern part (Neuvorpommern) in 1815.

History after 1945

Post-war establishment

In May 1945, the armies of the Soviet Union and the western allies met east of Schwerin. Following the Potsdam Agreement, the western allies handed over the western part of Mecklenburg to the Soviets. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was established in July 9, 1945, per order Nr. 5 of Red Army marshall Zhukov, head of the Soviet administration (SMAD), as the Province of Mecklenburg and West Pomerania (sapadnoi Pomeranii).

During and after the war, the make-up of Mecklenburg and Vorpommern's population changed due to wartime losses and the influx of evacuees (mainly from the Berlin and Hamburg metropolitan areas that were subject to air raids) and people who fled and were expelled from the former eastern territories of Germany east of the Oder-Neisse line, which became the eastern border of Mecklenburg Vorpommern. After the war, the population had doubled with more than 40% of the population being refugees.

Before the war, Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania had a population of 1,278,700, of whom many perished during the war and another share moved west in the course of the Red Army's advance. In October 1945, the authorities counted 820,000 refugees, of whom a number of 30,000 and 40,000 moved about without destination.

In 1947, some 1,426,000 refugees were counted, 1 million of which was from post-war Poland. Most of them were settled in rural communities, but also the towns' population increased, most notably in Schwerin from 65,000 (1939) to 99,518 (January 1947), in Wismar from 29,463 to 44,173, and in Greifswald from 29,488 to 43,897.

In 1949, out of a population of 2,126,000, refugees accounted for 922,088. Yet, many people - both refugees and pre-war locals - moved towards the western allies' occupation zones, causing the number of inhabitants to decrease within the following decades.

Following the land reform of 1945/46, all farms larger than 100 ha were seized by the administration. Two thirds of the seized farms, making up for 54% of the overall seized farmland, were distributed among the refugees, who had become the majority in many rural communities. The remaining large farms not distributed among the population were run by the administration as so-called "People-owned farm" (Volkseigenes Gut, VEG). After the reform, one out of two refugees was assigned to an own small farm.

In June 5, 1946, a law enacted by the Soviets led to the constitution of a provisional German administration (Beratende Versammlung) under Soviet supervision in June 29, 1946. After the unfree elections of October 20, 1946, a Landtag replaced the Beratende Versammlung and worked out the constitution of January 16, 1947, for the Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. In April 18, 1947, the state's name was shortened to Land Mecklenburg.

Constitutional state of the GDR and dissolvement

Mecklenburg was a constituent state of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) upon its formation in 1949. In 1952, the East Berlin government abandoned "states" in favour of districts (German: Bezirke). As a result of this, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern were replaced by three districts covering roughly the same area (Bezirk Rostock, Bezirk Schwerin and Bezirk Neubrandenburg, commonly known as the Nordbezirke (northern districts)) under the highly-centralised GDR government. The administrative changes also made the historical border between Mecklenburg and Pomerania vanish from the maps.

Throughout the 1950s, small farms including those created in the previous land reform were forced to group to Socialist-style LPG units. In Aktion Rose, private property of housing was turned over to the state. From this stock, various state organizations ran the GDR's seaside resort.

While the northern districts' economy primarily relied on agriculture, the East German government developed the shipyards in the old Hanseatic ports (the largest being in Rostock and Stralsund), and also established a nuclear power plant in Lubmin near Greifswald.

Reconstitution in 1990

Prior to German reunification in 1990, the postwar eastern states were reconstituted, including Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Geography

Sixth-largest in area but only fourteenth in overall population among Germany's sixteen states, it is bounded to the north by the Baltic Sea, to the west by Schleswig-Holstein, to the southwest by Lower Saxony, to the south by Brandenburg, and to the east by the West Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. Its administrative seat is Schwerin. The largest city is Rostock with approximately 200,000 people. Other major cities include Greifswald, Güstrow, Neubrandenburg, Stralsund and Wismar. The state's Baltic Sea coast features several islands, most notably Germany's biggest island Rügen, but also Hiddensee, Usedom and Poel. The southern part of the state is marked by a multitude of lakes, the largest of which is Lake Müritz.

See also List of places in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Districts

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is currently divided into twelve Kreise (districts): These districts are going to change in 2009.

  1. Bad Doberan
  2. Demmin
  3. Güstrow
  4. Ludwigslust
  5. Mecklenburg-Strelitz
  6. Müritz

  1. Nordvorpommern
  2. Nordwestmecklenburg
  3. Ostvorpommern
  4. Parchim
  5. Rügen
  6. Uecker-Randow
Furthermore there are six independent urban districts:

  1. Rostock (HRO)
  2. Greifswald (HGW)
  3. Neubrandenburg (NB)
  4. Schwerin (SN)
  5. Stralsund (HST)
  6. Wismar (HWI)

Statistics

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the least densely populated and least industrial German state, being the sixth largest in size, but only 14th in population. The unemployment rate of 12.7% (September 2008) , which has been negatively affected by rigorous economic reforms after the Reunification of Germany in the 1990s, is currently the lowest in more than 15 years while the economy is growing and the number of jobs increases continually.

Culture

Over the centuries, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern have developed and maintained strong regional cultures. It can generally be described as North German and has similar linguistic and historic characteristics to other north German states, such as Schleswig-Holstein. People in Vorpommern, as a result of that territory being a former province of Prussia, tend to look slightly more towards Berlin and Brandenburg than people in Mecklenburg would.

Architecture

The cities are characterised by a certain "Hanseatic" style also found in other parts of Northern Germany (e.g. Lübeck) as well as in countries like Estonia (e.g. Tallinn) or Latvia (e.g. Riga). A common feature of many towns in Mecklenburg and Vorpommern is Gothic red brick churches dating back to the Middle Ages. The old towns are usually built around one or several market places with a church or the town hall. Often towns were founded at the Baltic Sea, one of the many Lakes or a river for reasons of trade.

Museums, art and theatres

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is home to many cultural events throughout the year. In addition to many regular museums and art galleries, Stralsund offers the very popular Deutsches Meeresmuseum (German Maritime Museum; the most popular museum in Northern Germany), Ribnitz-Damgarten the Deutsches Bernsteinmuseum (German Amber Museum).

During summer, many open air concerts and operas are open to visitors. The Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Music Festival of MV) attract a sizeable audience by performing classical concerts in parks, churches and castles.

Caspar David Friedrich, a famous romanticist painter born in Greifswald, immortalised parts of the state in several of his paintings.

Language

Whereas today the vast majority of people speak Standard German (also called High German, Hochdeutsch), a few centuries ago most people spoke what is called Low German (German: Plattdeutsch or Niederdeutsch). It is not "low" in prestige, however, but rather originates in the geographically lower (northern) part of Germany.

Due to several sound shifts in Standard German which did not occur in Low German, Low German is rather distinct and is considered a separate language by some, a dialect of German by others. At its highpoint, the late Middle Ages, it was the lingua franca of the Hanseatic League, a trade organisation in northern Europe. More than 1500 years ago, "Old Low German" (also known as Old Saxon) was also the language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons, who originally came from northern Germany before leaving for England. That is why, there is often a closer similarity between English and Low German words than between English and Standard/High German words, for instance:

  • English water = Low German water (High German: Wasser)
  • English he = Low German hei (High German: er)

Low German is protected by the state's constitution and, similar to Welsh in Wales, taught at school and at university level. There is also a diverse Low German literature by such authors as Fritz Reuter or Rudolf Tarnow. Low German has also been recognised by the Netherlands and by Germany (since 1999) as a regional language according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Within the official terminology defined in the charter, this status would not be available to a dialect of an official language. As a result of this, Germany would appear, therefore, to have at least implicitly adopted the stance that Low German is not a dialect of the German language, but rather a separate language.

Food and drinks

Like most German regions, Mecklenburg and Vorpommern have their own traditional dishes, often including fish, beef and pork. Rostock has its own type of bratwurst called Rostocker Bratwurst.

Religion

Following the Christian Reformation, led in Germany by Martin Luther, the traditional faith in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is Protestantism. There are also a number of Catholics and people of other faiths. As a result of the extremely secular laws of the former communist GDR, more than three quarters of the population are now non-religious or agnostic.

Education

Universities and colleges

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has two of the oldest universities of Germany, and indeed Europe:

Also, there are four colleges / technological universities.

  • Fachhochschule Stralsund
  • Hochschule Wismar
  • Hochschule Neubrandenburg
  • Hochschule für Musik und Theater Rostock
  • Baltic College Güstrow
  • Fachhochschule für öffentliche Verwaltung, Rechtspflege und Polizei in Güstrow

Schools

The state's school system is centralised. There are two main types of schools, Regionalschule (for the majority of pupils) and Gymnasium (for the top 30% of each year's students, leading to the university entrance qualification "Abitur"). Besides, there are also independent schools, comprehensive schools, and trade schools.

Politics

Minister President

The Schwerin-based executive is led by a cabinet, in turn led by a Minister President, who is the official head of government.

Here is a list of minister presidents of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (1945-1952: only Mecklenburg)

  1. 1945 - 1951: Wilhelm Höcker (SED)
  2. 1951: Kurt Bürger (SED)
  3. 1951 - 1952: Bernhard Quandt
  4. 1990 - 1992: Alfred Gomolka (CDU)
  5. 1992 - 1998: Berndt Seite (CDU)
  6. 1998 - 2008: Harald Ringstorff (SPD)
  7. since 2008: Erwin Sellering (SPD)

Parliament

See also: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state election, 2006

The last election of the state parliament (German: Landtag), located in the capital city Schwerin, took place on 17 September 2006. The five-year term ends in 2011.

Party Vote percentage Total Seats
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 30.2% 23
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 28.8% 22
Left Party 16.8% 13
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 9.6% 7
National Democratic Party (NPD) 7.3% 6
Alliance '90/The Greens 3.4% 0
Others 3.9% 0
Totals 100.0% 71

Tourism

The "state of a thousand lakes" is mainly characterised by its unspoilt nature. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's varied coastline offers peninsulas such as Fischland-Darss-Zingst as well islands like Rügen (Germany's largest island), Hiddensee or Usedom.

A total number of 283 nature reserves, 110 landscape reserves and three of Germany's 14 national parks are scattered all over the state - the most prominent perhaps being Jasmund National Park, Müritz National Park and Western Pomerania Lagoon Area National Park. Many lakes used for fishing and sailing are in the Mecklenburg Lake District.

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern also attracts tourists with its nearly 2,000 castles, palaces and manor houses, which often function as venues for concerts and festivals.

The old towns of Wismar and Stralsund are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites and feature late Gothic red brick architecture so typical for Hanseatic cities.

Main sporting attractions include Bundesliga football club Hansa Rostock and the international sailing event Hanse Sail. Had the bid for the 2012 summer Olympics in Leipzig been successful, the sailing competitions would have taken place off the coast of Rostock.

Notable people

Miscellaneous

Gallery

Notes and references

External links

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