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History

In Krefeld's various districts and around the city centre, you will find silent architectural witnesses reflecting the city's history. There is the Orange-Prussian classicistic Krefeld, the district of Uerdingen, which belonged to the Electorate of Cologne, and the small medieval town of Linn, which was also part of the Electorate of Cologne, the church villages of Fischeln and Hüls, as well as Bockum with its villas and country houses. There are also further smaller districts with their own past which during the course of the 20th century became part of the current city of Krefeld.

The Town Hall of Krefeld after the year 1933
The Town Hall of Krefeld after the year 1933

Freedom and liberalism represent a constant in the development of the former "Krähenfeld" ("crow's field") which was awarded its town charter in the year 1373. In 1600 the town became part of the House of Orange and therefore a place of refuge for many religious refugees from the surrounding areas who in Krefeld found recognition and protection. As a result, the Mennonite community, which had been suffering persecution in other areas, grew in size and with it the most famous family of the town with the name „von der Leyen". The economic rise of Krefeld and its continuing reputation as a textile city is still inextricably linked to this family. Trade also grew and flourished under Prussian rule from 1702 on, thanks to the mercantile economic beliefs and the monopoly of the silk barons. This development was temporarily interrupted during the period of French occupation between 1794 and 1814.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in 1953
The Kaiser Wilhelm Museum in 1953

The new freedom of trade was detrimental to the monopoly of the Krefeld silk manufacturers; however, the abolition of customs duties at the end of the 18th century benefited traders in Uerdingen. And the mood in Krefeld at the time was more relaxed than under Prussian rule. Then a family from Moers that went by the name of Hermès moved to the city. In 1821, their son, Dietrich Hermès, left for Paris, taking with him nothing but his skills as a craftsman and subsequently transforming a small saddlery into the Hermès fashion house. Today, this man is better known under the name Thierry. In spite of the continually fluctuating economy, Krefeld designated the richest city in the German Empire in 1890, having become a city in 1887. However, the Second World War hits the city hard. Most of the city centre is destroyed in the night from June 21-22, 1943, during an air raid by more than 700 bombers.

The Central Post Office of Krefeld in 1900
The Central Post Office of Krefeld in 1900

Today Krefeld is an important industrial centre keeping pace with the creative currents in Germany with the Design study course at the Lower Rhine University of Applied Sciences.