Hünfeld and city districts

Hünfeld, History & Interesting Facts

Hünfeld is the only centre in the Rhön Biosphere Reserve and the second largest job site in the Fulda district. More than 6,000 employees subject to social insurance and well over 8,000 job opportunities are by no means self-evident for a city of 17,250 inhabitants and characterise the importance of Hünfeld in the region.

While in previous decades commercial, technical and industrial jobs predominated in the economic life of our city, in recent years Hünfeld has increasingly developed into a location for authorities and services. There are 1,700 employees in the public sector alone, and another 1,000 in the health and nursing sector. These include, for example, a high-performance primary care hospital, institutions for the elderly or a specialist nursing home for people with brain injuries.

The location of the authorities is characterized by the only remaining operational department of the Federal Police in Hesse, the Correctional Institution or also the central court of remand for Hesse, the branch office of the Hessian Central Data Processing Centre or the central aid department for the Hessian state administration.

History and Present

The town grew out of a foundation of Charlemagne, who donated the "Unofelt Campus" to the monastery of Fulda in 781. On the heights above the Haune probably already in 782 monks settled and founded a Benedictine monastery. From this developed a canonical monastery, in whose surroundings farmers settled, who made the country uplandable. Already around the turn of the millennium Hünfeld had two churches, the Collegiate Church and the predecessor church of the present parish church. This shows that Hünfeld had already taken a considerable development in the early Middle Ages. This first peaked in 1310 with the granting of the so-called "Gelnhäuser city rights", which gave further impetus to the development of the city. Due to its location on the former military and trade road Antsanvia and the later trade road Frankfurt – Leipzig, many people found a livelihood through craft services, accommodation for travelling merchants and pre-tensioning services for the merchant wagons. What contributed to a modest livelihood in peacetime proved to be a heavy burden in wartime. Passing armies repeatedly left traces of devastation. Housing, robberies and requisitions caused much suffering among the citizens of the city. Only the French Emperor Napoleon marched through Hünfeld nine times during his campaigns. Great minds also stopped in Hünfeld. Among them was the German poet prince Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who left the Hünfelders a poem that is an interesting contemporary testimony to the serious consequences of the Napoleonic campaigns.

The difficult economic and social situation in the run-up to the German Revolution of 1848 had also been grasped by Hünfeld. During this time Johann Adam Förster, who later belonged to the radical-democratic wing of the German National Assembly in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt, was elected mayor of the city. He fought for civil liberties until the end in the Baden Rumpfparlament and was one of the outstanding political figures of the time. He had to pay for his commitment to civil liberties with the loss of his homeland. As part of the restoration of monarchist conditions, he fled to the United States, where he died as a Justice of the Peace in the 1970s.

A further change for Hünfeld was the connection to the railway network in 1866. As a result, more and more goods were shifted to the new transport routes. The number of commercial wagons and postal coaches declined drastically, and the city had to reorient itself economically. The first industrial approaches developed with a flax processing plant, a paper mill and a sugar factory. Peaceful, bourgeois life was abruptly interrupted by the First World War and even more so by the National Socialist dictatorship, which led straight to the devastating Second World War. On 27 October 1944, 106 citizens and passengers lost their lives in a devastating bomb attack on the railway station. Countless families mourned fathers and sons who lost their lives because of the war.

The war had struck deep wounds in social, cultural and economic life. But just a few months later, the Hünfelder had to face completely new challenges. Within a few years, the population of Hünfeld had almost doubled due to the arrival of displaced persons and refugees from the former East German territories and the Soviet-occupied part of Germany. Housing and jobs had to be created quickly. This was achieved in the turbulent post-war period within a few years. Hünfeld became a small centre of the textile industry with at times up to 1,200 employees. With the company Wella, a global company of hair cosmetics settled in Hünfeld, which had been expropriated in its home town in the Erzgebirge. The technical part of the company continues under new owners, but the cosmetics division was abandoned in 2018 with the exception of a development department.

The turbulent years of construction and steady growth were followed in the 1960s by a period of consolidation, until 1972 when the municipal territorial reform led to a further break in the city's history. Fourteen formerly independent villages came to Hünfeld, the number of inhabitants doubled, the area of the city even increased tenfold. Hünfeld lost the seat of the district, as the old district of Hünfeld merged with the old district of Fuldas. The 1970s were characterised by modernising the infrastructure in the new districts of Hünfeld.

Titelbild der Broschüre 50 Jahre Großgemeinde
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The core city also received a modern face in the 1980s with a traffic-reduced inner city, extensive recreational and green areas as well as leisure facilities. An aggressive family-friendly land policy ensured that many young families settled in numerous new development areas. The economic development of Hünfeld also kept pace with this steady growth. Since the mid-1970s, the number of employees subject to social security has risen from around 3,000 to over 6,000.

A modern urban development policy meant that in Hünfeld, unlike many other small towns in rural areas, consumer markets on the green meadow were prevented. Instead, these markets were located in the vicinity of the city centre, so that to this day Hünfeld has a city centre with well-stocked specialist shops.

Another milestone in the city's history was the opening of the neighbouring inner-German border. After 40 years, Hünfeld was moved from a peripheral location to the middle of Germany and Europe. Admittedly, the city initially suffered from the strong subsidy gap to locations in neighboring Thuringia. Many companies that had planned an investment in Hünfeld before the German Revolution took advantage of the good production opportunities in Thuringia. Nevertheless, a lively economic exchange developed, from which the city benefits greatly today. Without the many commuters from Thuringia who travel to Hünfeld every day to work, many companies would not have been able to develop so well.

Since 2006, Hünfeld is officially Konrad-Zuse-Stadt. Prof. h. c. Konrad Zuse, the inventor of the first freely programmable binary floating point calculator, in short the computer, spent most of his creative life in the city from 1956 to 1995. There is also a museum dedicated to him, which houses the largest collection of Zuse calculators as well as works of art by the painter Zuse.

As a vibrant mid-sized centre in the Rhön biosphere reserve, Hünfeld has also successfully faced the competition as a residential location and has been able to further expand the number of inhabitants in contrast to many other small towns and mid-sized centres in rural areas.