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Münster is well worth seeing: Town history

1900 to 1945

Emperor Wilhelm II founds the University of Münster, thus granting the city a long-standing wish. The present Theological-Philosophical Academy, being in turn extended by a Faculty of Law, is the core. The emperor, on the occasion of his visiting Münster, bestows the name “Westphälische Wilhelms-Universität” on the university, which it carries to the present day. The establishment of the Faculty of Medicine and the inauguration of the Theological-Protestant Faculty would follow later on. Women were accepted for a course of study in the winter semester of 1908 for the first time. Today, the University of Münster ranks among the largest in Germany.

The municipal area of Münster sextuples by another incorporation. The country communities of Lamberti and Überwasser are completely absorbed by Münster, and another portion of the community of St. Mauritz is integrated. The number of inhabitants of Münster increases by some 7,500 to more than 71,000.

Prisoner-of-war camps are arranged for as early as in autumn. By the end of World War I, roughly 90,000 British, Russian, French, Italian, Belgian, and Portuguese are kept prisoner here. The prisoner-of-war cemetery nearby the former camp Haus Spital in Gievenbeck is a vestige of the war.

Münster becomes a major city with 100,000 citizens, having thus quadrupled its number of inhabitants. A few days before Christmas, the military ammunition factory in Mauritz bursts into flames. As a result, there are major and minor explosions for two days. Only a few people get killed or injured, mostly due to the vast quantity of grenades and unexploded ordnance that get tossed around.

At the Loddenheide airfield, the first regular air line from Münster to Bremen is established. More and more major cities such as Breslau, Munich, and Zurich can be approached up to 1925 - daily and at moderate charges that in part fall below the railway tariffs.

The Westdeutscher Rundfunk (West German Broadcasting Corporation) starts its programme under the “Westdeutsche Funkstunde” (West German Radio Hour). Münster is selected as the location because of its not being occupied by allied troops as opposed to the Rhineland and the Ruhr.

The university hospitals and the Halle Münsterland are completed.

The first portion of the Aasee is flooded in November. A sheet of water of eleven hectares is created by the “through-cut” to the second construction section and the removal of the dam in December 1931. An extensive local recreation area nearby the old town develops based on another enlargement of the lake and the establishment of the All-Weather Zoo, the Mühlenhof, and the Museum for Natural History.

After the National Socialists coming into power, the NSDAP district Westphalia North is situated in Münster. The Gauhaus (District House) is built on the Aasee in the architectural style typical for the time. Deconstructed and modernised, it houses the Mensa I of the university today.

Following anti-Semitic activities as early as since 1933, National Socialists burn down the synagogue in the Klosterstrasse, mistreat Jewish citizens, and demolish their apartments and shops. The ten Hompel mansion at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring is the office of the Ordnungspolizei (regular police force of Nazi Germany) from 1940 to 1944, organising the deportation of persons to the concentration and annihilation camps in the East.

Bishop Clemens August von Galen, holding the episcopal office since 1933, previously parish priest of St. Lamberti, preaches his now world-famous sermons against the expropriation of monasteries and euthanasia, pressing criminal charges. The National Socialists, however, did not dare to take action against the “Lion of Münster”.

Münster has become a target of bombing raids of British, later on also American aircraft since 1940. The most severe and at the same time very first daylight attack on Münster was staged on October 10, 1943, a clear Sunday in autumn. Almost 700 persons perish.

When on April 2 the city is occupied by British and American units, thus ending the acts of war and bombing raids on Münster, the city belongs to the most severely impacted major cities. In excess of 91 percent of the city centre, 63 percent of the total urban area lie in ruins. Out of the 132,800 inhabitants (1939), only 23,500 still dwell in Münster.


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