Warburg is a town in eastern North Rhine-Westphalia on the river Diemel near the three-state point shared by Hessen, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. It is in Höxter district and Detmold region. Warburg is the midpoint in the Warburger Börde.
The main town, consisting of the Old Town (Altstadt) and the New Town (Neustadt) and bearing the same name as the whole town, is a hill town. While the Old Town lies in the Diemel Valley, the New Town rises on the heights above the Diemel. The Warburg municipal area borders in the west on the Sauerland and in the northwest on the Eggegebirge foothills, while in the north and northeast the Warburger Börde abuts the town and in the south stretches the Diemel Valley.
The name Warburg was first mentioned in a document sometime around 1010, although archaeological finds have established that there were already people living in what is now Warburg by protohistoric times. The first definite documentary mention came in 1036.
In the 11th century there was on the Warburger Burgberg ("Castle Mountain") the "Wartburg", under whose protection people came and settled. The castle was at first owned by Count Dodiko, whose estate, according to documents, passed in 1020 to the Bishop of Paderborn when the Count's only son met his end in an accident. Eventually, sometime between 1021 and 1033, the Emperor further granted to the bishop the Count's rights. About 1180, the Old Town was granted town rights.
From the castle hill, there was a good view over the Diemel Valley, such that a close watch could be kept on the ford that merchants had to cross going to Warburg and Paderborn. This ford on the Diemel was a crossroads of several ancient commercial roads and was crucial in the town's development into a central place. The Warburg New Town was founded in 1228–1229 by Bernhard IV of Lippe, Bishop of Paderborn, to bolster his political position in the Diemel area against encroachment by the Bishop of Cologne. About 1239, the New Town had been built into a complete town in its own right, and the towsfolk there had full civil rights after the Dortmund and Marsberg models. In 1260, the New Town was granted the right to build a town wall, not only against armies from afar, but even – expressly – against the Old Town.
In 1364, both the Old Town and the New Town became members of the Hanseatic League. By 1436, they had forgotten their differences, uniting that year into one town.
The two towns, the Old Town and the New Town, joined in 1436 into one town. In Der Grote Breff ("The Great Letter"), the newly united town's constitution was precisely framed and sealed. Both former towns' seals are to be seen on the Great Letter. On the cast seal (in the picture), two defensive towers with a double wall are to be seen. Under the town gate stands the Bishop of Paderborn with a staff. The circumscription reads: "Sigillium burgensium in wartborch". The Great Letter is written in Middle Low German, the Hanseatic League's language, and stands as a substantial legal document.
Hitherto, the Old Town's and the New Town's council meetings had each been taking place in their respective town halls, each on their respective marketplaces. Now, however, there were two mayors. This was solved by allowing each mayor to head the unified town for half the year. Furthermore, both town halls were used for council meetings, again, each for half the year. However, the problem of having two town halls was not fully resolved until 132 years after the two former towns had merged. Only then, in 1568, was the new Rathaus Zwischen den Städten – Town Hall Between the Towns – built.
The common Town Hall, in the form of preserved Renaissance buildings, was built right on the former boundary between the two former towns, with two separate entrances for Altstädter and Neustädter ("Old Towners" and "New Towners"). In 1902–1903, it was expanded with a half-timbered floor. It stands right where a gate, the Liebfrauentor (roughly, "Gate of Our Lady"), once stood. In the Middle Ages, this was the only gateway between the two then separate towns.
The Old Town's former Town Hall, renovated in 1973, nowadays serves gastronomical and residential ends. The New Town's former Town Hall served various purposes ranging from Town Hall cellar to assembly hall to market hall before it had to be torn down in 1803 owing to decrepitude.
There arose yet another superfluous government building in 1975 after the communities of the old Amt of Warburg-Land were amalgamated with Warburg, namely the Amt administration building on Kasseler Straße, which was forsaken by the district authorities in favour of the Behördenhaus ("Authority House") on Bahnhofstraße.
In the early 17th century, Warburg was a well known and rich trading town. Outside the town walls rose "die Hüffert" as a new part of the town. In the Thirty Years' War, great parts of die Hüffert and other villages in the area were sacked and destroyed, impoverishing the town. In 1622, the town was captured by Christian the Younger of Brunswick, Bishop of Halberstadt, who is sometimes called in German der tolle Christian – "Christian the Mad". By 1628, the town was changing overlords and occupation armies repeatedly as the war dragged on, ending up in Imperial hands by the time the war ended in 1648.
On 31 July 1760, during the Seven Years' War, Warburg was the scene of a battle that now bears its name. Twenty-four thousand Prussian, Hanoverian, Hessian and British troops fought under Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick and the Crown Prince of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel) against a French army of 21,500 soldiers led by Lieutenant-General Le Chevalier du Muy and the Duke of Broglie. The Prussians and their allies won, killing 8,000 French soldiers while losing only 1,500 themselves, leaving them free to sack the town. A tower on the Desenberg recalls the Battle of Warburg.
On 3 August 1802, Prussian troops came into Warburg in anticipation of the decisions of German Mediatisation (Reichsdeputationshauptschluss). From 1807 to 1813, in the Napoleonic Era, Warburg belonged to the Kingdom of Westphalia. After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Warburg was once again assigned to Prussia. The next year, it became a district seat.
In 1849 came the railway. In 1892 – 244 years after it had ended – Warburg at last paid off the last of the debts that it had incurred because of the Thirty Years' War.
On 1 January 1975 came municipal reorganization, which saw 16 formerly independent municipalities merged into a new greater town of Warburg. Also, the districts of Warburg and Höxter were united, taking the latter's name. In 1983, Warburg became a founding member of the Wesphalian Hanseatic League (Westfälischer Hansebund).
There is believed to have been a parish in Wormeln by about 780, with church patrons Simon the Zealot and Judah. Wormeln had its first documentary mention in 1018 in a donation document from Count Dodiko to Meinwerk, Bishop of Paderborn.
About 1246, the Counts of Everstein founded the Wormeln Cistercian Convent of the Nuns of the Grey Order. On 16 September 1810, Jérôme Bonaparte, King of Westphalia in Napoleonic times, decreed the convent's dissolution.
The Syriac Orthodox Church's bishopric of Germany was founded in 1997 and has its episcopal seat in the former Dominican monastery in Warburg. After the monastery was renovated, it was used as a Syriac Orthodox centre in Westphalia.
In the 16th century, the Warburg family took the town's name as their own and moved in the second half of the 18th century to Altona (Hamburg), where the brothers Moses Marcus and Gerson Warburg built up the Bankinstitut M&M Warburg in 1798. From this family also came the natural scientists Otto and Emil Warburg.
Another well known Warburg Jewish family were the Oppenheims, among whom was Hermann Oppenheim, a famous German neurologist. Yet another famous townsman was Emil Herz, a publisher at the Ullstein-Verlag (until the Nazis forced him out as the company's director in 1934, after he had worked there for 30 years), who described in his book something of Jewish life in Warburg.
Warburg's oldest town seals are from 1254 and 1257, and show a bishop – likely the Bishop of Paderborn – standing in a gateway. The fleur-de-lis charge seen in today's arms originally appeared on coins minted in the town, beginning in 1227. Smaller town seals in the 14th century also showed the lis, with the gateway only appearing on the greater seal.
For a time in the 20th century, Warburg used a coat of arms based on the old greater seal, showing the walls, towers and gateway, but not the bishop. His place was taken by a fleur-de-lis. The town, however, readopted the fleur-de-lis-only composition on 30 June 1977.
At Warburg, Federal Highways (Bundesstraßen) 7 and 252 cross. On the latter, one may reach the Warburg interchange on Autobahn A 44 (Kassel-Dortmund), which not much farther on meets the A 7 near Kassel.
The railway station lies on the Ruhr area-Kassel (InterCityExpress, InterCity and RegionalBahn trains) and Hagen-Warburg regional lines: RE17 Hagen – Schwerte – Brilon-Wald – Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe and RB89 Rheine – Münster – Hamm – Paderborn – Warburg (Westfalen-Bahn). Furthermore, the RegioTram RT3 runs to Kassel Main Railway Station (Hauptbahnhof). The surrounding towns are served by regional buses. The town belongs to the Paderborn-Höxter Local Transport Association (Nahverkehrsverbund Paderborn-Höxter). When travelling towards Hesse, the North Hesse Transport Association (Nordhessischer Verkehrsverbund or NVV) tariffs apply.
Beginning about 1850 in what is today Warburg's municipal area, the first structures of modern fire brigades were taking shape as "dousing and spraying teams". These were the beginnings of the Ossendorf and Scherfede fire brigades.
In the main town of Warburg, the volunteer fire brigade was founded in 1889, and quickly thereafter, the same happened in communities throughout the Warburger Land. After the fire in Hohenewepel in 1912, they were established in Dössel, Hohenwepel and Menne.
Today's Warburg volunteer fire brigade was founded in 1975 by merging the town's and all newly amalgamated centres' former volunteer fire brigades.
The following personalities were not born in Warburg, but lived and worked in the town: