Town hall in Witten
|• Mayor||Sonja Leidemann (Ind.)|
|• Total||72.40 km2 (27.95 sq mi)|
|Elevation||104 m (341 ft)|
|• Density||1,300/km2 (3,500/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
58401 - 58456
|Vehicle registration||EN, WIT|
Witten is divided into eight boroughs and each borough is further divided into two or more city-districts. Every district has its own district-number:
Witten was first mentioned in historic sources in 1214, however the borough Herbede (which was incorporated into the city in 1975) dates back to 851. The city was a mining town from 1578. In 1946, it was included in North Rhine-Westphalia on its establishment. In 1975 Witten was included in the administrative district Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis and it is now its biggest city. 1975 was also the year Witten was first counted to have more than 100,000 inhabitants, the threshold to be considered a large city ("Großstadt") in Germany.
In the late 19th century Witten was known for the Roburit dynamite. This dynamite was once used by coal mines around the world. In 1906 an explosion occurred, resulting in the deaths of 41 people.
The local council of Witten has 64 seats. In the local elections of 2004 the German Social Democratic Party, SPD, gained 24 seats and form the largest party represented on the council. It is followed by the Christian Democratic Party, CDU with 18 and the Greens with 7 seats. They are followed by the WBG (a conservative list) with 4, FDP 4, FLW (also a conservative list) 3, NPD 2, PDS/WAL (socialists) 1 and AUF Witten (a left wing list) also 1. Since 2004 for the first time in its history the council is led by a female mayor: Sonja Leidemann, SPD.
Witten is connected to the Autobahn network by the A 43 and A 44 motorways. It has a central station, connecting the city to the regional-train-network of Deutsche Bahn with direct connections to Hagen, Bochum, Essen, Siegen, Wuppertal, Düsseldorf, Aachen or Dortmund. Local service is carried out by the BOGESTRA, a joint venture between the cities of Bochum and Gelsenkirchen, to which most of the bus lines in Witten belong. There is a tram line connecting to Bochum. From mid-december on, there will be two tram lines, which will run in Witten (lines 309 and 310). When the new track to Langendreer is completed (September 2020), the tram lines will ride to the station of Bochum-Langendreer (309) or to Wattenscheid-Höntrop via Bochum main station (310). Public transport in the city is carried out according to the fare system of the VRR transport association.
The coat of arms of Witten with its two lions once belong to the Everhards von Witten-Steinhausen and was first mentioned in 1283. The family of Witten-Steinhausen belongs to the founders of the town of Witten. Their slogan was: "Sigillum Hermanni de Wittene". Because of its long history this Coat of arms was the only one in the Ruhr area, that was not forbidden by the Allies in May 1945, after the End of the Second World War.
When Witten was first mentioned in historical documents, it was part of the Archdiocese of Cologne. Since 1821 it has been a part of the Diocese of Paderborn; however, the borough of Herbede belongs to the Diocese of Essen. In the 19th century the Ruhr area drew up to 500,000 Poles from East Prussia and Silesia, most of whom were Catholic. Hundreds settled in Witten, leading to a growth in the Catholic community. Today, between 30 and 40 per cent of the population is Catholic.
In the 16th century Witten was influenced by Martin Luther's Reformation, and until the late 19th century, Witten was a predominantly Protestant town with just a few Catholic inhabitants. Between 30 and 40 per cent of the population is Protestant today.
There are four mosques in Witten, Annen and Herbede today, founded by immigrants from Turkey who arrived in the 1970s and 1980s. Between five and eight per cent of the population is Muslim.
In 1815 the first Jewish community was mentioned in Witten. In 1938 the synagogue was destroyed during the so-called "Reichspogromnacht" (also known as Kristallnacht) of 9–10 November 1938. Today, only about a dozen Jews live in Witten. They belong to the Jewish community in Dortmund.
Since 1994 the place of the former synagogue is marked with a memorial.
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