City Seal from 1200
Wax Seal from the armoured City of Lemgo (around 1200)
with the Sign of the local Landowner (Lippische Rose)
and the Inscript:

The Old "Hansestadt Lemgo"


The following is taken from the book "Lemgo - Gesicht einer Stadt" written by Marianne Bonney and published 1980 by Verlag Steffen in Lemgo. The book is still the best 'Quick Review' over Lemgos history, past and present you can get. It is written in German, English and French - so if you are interested enough to get more infos about my hometown you may try getting one. But: the number of books ever made is not very high and I guess it would be a vain care. But who knows ... ? The ISBN Number is 3-922 847-00-5 and my book is from the first edition (hey - there are no editions metioned at all).
Unneccessary to mention that all rights are reserved and belong to author and publisher. But I hope they will forgive me, that I use a part from their work here ... this is no commercial use of it at all. And I had typed it manually - not with a OCR-Scanner (which I haven't anyway).
Thank you very much, Mrs. Bonney !

"An old document, fortunately discovered at the end of the 19th century and carefully preserved in the City Archive, tells us that Lemgo was founded at the end of the 12th century by Bernhard II, Edelherr of Lippe (1140 - 1224). A manuscript dating from 1245 and bearing the seal of Bernhard III, grandson of the founder, confirms the privileges conferred by Bernhard II on the city.

The Lemgo historian Professor Karl Meier describes Bernhard II as one of the most remarkable figures of medievial Westphalia. Before leaving for the crusades in 1197 he laid the foundations of the city at the junction of two medieval trade-routes, which intersected at the present market-place. To this day the market in Lemgo has the character of a crossroads.

The present lay-out is based upon the original concept of the town.

With the exception of a break caused by the construction of the Engelbert-Kämpfer-Strasse at the turn of the century, the foundation of the ancient city wall girdle the town with a garden-like green belt. With the passage of time the original city gates have unfortunately vanished. The panorama of Lemgo shows 80 buildings designated as historic monuments and 140 others worthy of preservation.
The saliant features of the town belong not to the Middle Ages, but to the Renaissance of the 15th and 16th centuries. During this period the foremost masons were at work in Lemgo.
Many of the carefully preserved stone carvings testify to the genius of their creators. The fame of Wulff, Georg and Ernst Grossmann and other of these master craftsman spread far beyond the confines of the town.
Their "signatures" are to be found on the friezes of the "Ratsapotheke" as well as in the fittings of the St. Nicholas and St. Mary's churches, and many hoses facades; testimony to their contribution to the flowering of Lemgos architecture.
The 14th and 15th centuries were an important epoch in the growth of Lemgo. The city, which since the 13th century had its own coinage, joined the Hanseatic League and was given full voter's rights.
Lemgo became a significant political and commercial entity which maintained economic ties in the North, East and West, "Lemsche Wand", a fabric woven from Flanders wool was at all times of highest quality.
The weaving of linen was an important industry. Threads spun in Lemgo was used in the production of Brabantine lace.
The depredations of the Thirty Years' War wrought havoc on the town which because if its location was for many years the largest and most important in the region which we today know as Lippe. The citizenry and crafts very slowly recovered, thanks to the flourishing printing and book trade (one spoke of Westphalian Leipzig) and the manufacturing of Meerschaum pipes.

In the 19th century an upsprunge of growth began. On solid basis of the earlier handcrafts, thriving factory industries with overseas contacts were built up.
The industrial growth increased after the Second World War, allied to the changing patterns of society and technical achievements.

At the same time in the old towncentre problems developed, created by growing traffic and overall motorization. The population began to shift to the outlying districts.

The regeneration of the city centre would only be feasible if people remained attracted to living there.

It was only after this central area was designated a Renovation Zone in 1972 that the restoration of historic buildings begin in earnest.

Within a short time much was completed, thank to subsidies from federal and provincial governments as well as private investments. Lemgo has become a prime example of town planning with an eye to the restauration of historic monuments, and has won prizes for its concern for preservation of the town's character.

Considerable work remains to be done to the rear of the pedestrians zone which will be extended southwards to the North Town (Incorporated in the Old Town in 1365). This attempt to preserve the unique character of the city, plus the responsibility of environmental protection will long continue to make demand upon the city's ressources."

So far the citate from Mrs. Bonneys book. Can you imagine how my hometown looks ? I think not. Well, then - I must help you.

Locating Lemgo

In case you find a roadmap of Germany and this map is detailed enough to show even the smaller cities and towns, you will find Lemgo as well.
A general Overview: Hamburg is to the North of Germany, Berlin to the East. Munich is to the extreme South.

Method one - the geometrical way

Take a pencil and a ruler. Draw a line through Hamburg southwards or simply follow the 10°-East Meridian.
The draw a line from Berlin to the west. Near the intersection of these two lines you will find Hannover.
Then draw a circle with a diameter of 110 Kilometers (or 75 miles) depending on the scale of your map around Hannover. In the south-west direction you will find Bielefeld.
Draw a line from Hannover to Bielefeld. Near the point where the circle and the last line intersect - there around you might find Lemgo.

Methode two - the truck-drivers way

Start again in Hamburg. The Autobahn A7 (E45) leads southwards from Hamburg to Hannover. You come to the intersection from the A7 to the A2 (E30) which leads from Berlin to Dortmund. Drive west into the direction of Dortmund. After 160-some Kilometers you pass Herford-Ost, then Herford / Bad Salzuflen, then the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Exit. You leave the A2 here. You then only need to follow the Ostwestfalenstraße to the east for about 25 Kilometers and land directly in Lemgo. But watch your speed ! They have some automatic radar-controlled speed-traps on that way. And driving too fast may become very expensive then.

Let' have a look on a (not very brilliant) map:


Lemgo In Facts

Well - I won't bother you with trillions of useless numbers and statistics. Just let me name some facts for completeness.
Lemgo has around 36.000 inhabitants. The two mayor roads which intersect in Lemgo are first the Bundesstraße (Federal Road) B238, leading from Minden in the north to Detmold in the south (and further to Kassel and South-Germany). Second is the Bundesstraße B66, leading from Bielefeld in the West (coming from i.e. the Netherlands) to Bad Pyrmont in the east (leading further to Hildesheim and i.e. Leipzig).
These mayor roads are nowadays parts of old medieval trading routes, which primarily caused the foundation of Lemgo on that place.
Lemgos economical structure is based on a number of industrial companies. Some 20 years ago Lemgo, Detmold and Herford were the heartland of West-German furniture and kitchen-manufacturers. During the years of recession most of them had to give up. From formerly 25 furniture producing companies in the city of Lemgo, a handful of six had survived. Today the larger companies in Lemgo produce car- and truck-seats (Isringhausen), private and industrial lighting systems (Kotzold and STAFF, who is the inventor of the electronic light-dimmer) or dentists equipment (COMET, Gebrüder Brassler). Those articles produced in Lemgo were traded worldwide and bring the name Lemgo even to the people in Japan.
We also have a very good and nationwide wellknown school in Lemgo. The Fachhochschule Lippe trains students in food-technology and industrial production techniques.
Lemgo was in the 17th century home of the famous Engelbert Kaempfer, a doctor, researcher and scientist of nature, who travelled Japan entirely during the years of it's total isolation to the west. He brought famous descriptions of Japans nature, science and social structure to Europe, when he returns after several years accompanying a netherlands Jesuit trading-delegation. His book about Japan was later published in the Netherlands but found lesser readers than he intended. He later lived on his farm near Lemgo and died as a poor man some years later. A typical fate of the scientists of those days. But his work was much later re-developed as one of the milestones in researching and understanding ancient Japan. Today a street, a school and a researchers company in Lemgo bears his name.


Lemgo #2

The Lemgo Rathaus (City Hall / left side) and Marketplace looking to the south during a market-day

Picture is courtesy of Ulrike Bongers (see foot note on this page)

Lemgo #3

The Hexenbürgermeisterhaus - built by Herrman Kruwel, a trader and later city-mayor 1568
Later Hermann Cothmann lived in that house - he was a famous and fanatic witchhunter
accusing men and women to be witches, tortoured and killed them there.
Today the house is a city's museum for the long and bloody history of Lemgos witch-processes. A visit pays !

Picture is courtesy of Ulrike Bongers (see foot note on this page)

Lemgo #4

A look at St. Nicolas church with her uneven towers from
the Breite Straße (south-to-north pedestrians zone)
The small white building in the middle of the picture held
the hangmans carriage in ancient times. That carriage was used
to transport witches through the town to the burning-places.
Today it is an office of the Lemgo City Tourist Information

Picture is courtesy of Ulrike Bongers (see foot note on this page)

Lemgo #5

The Mittelstrasse - East-to-West Pedestrian zone with fine shops and buildings
To the right is the "Rathauslaube" - a place former city-mayors held public adresses
At the right border are the windows of "Ratsapotheke" - belonging to the building of the City Hall

Picture is courtesy of Marianne Bonney (see foot note on this page)

Lemgo #6

Hey - we not only have old houses ! Well - that isn't brandnew, but ...
This concrete collection is the Fachhochschule Lippe - you can learn quite a lot in there
The little white dome on top is an observatory crest. They do have a home-page in Internet

Picture is courtesy of Marianne Bonney (see foot note on this page)

Around Lemgo

Schloß Brake

The old castle of Brake, built before the 12th century. Belonging to a today's suburb of Lemgo
Was former residence of the Edelherren zu Lippe (mentioned first in a 1306 document)
Completely rebuild from 1584 to 1603 in Weser-Renaissance style.
It today contains a famous federal museum of that style.

Picture is courtesy of Ulrike Bongers (see foot note)

Mittelland Kanal

Have you ever seen a crossing of two rivers ? No ?
Well - here's one: some 40 km north of Lemgo is an intersection of the Weser river
with the Mittelland-Kanal (up / right), which leads from the Rhine to Berlin.
The bridge was build at the start of the 20th century

Picture source unknown. Found it in an old school-book.


South of Lemgo and Detmold in the Teutoburger Forest is the
Herrmannsdenkmal - a monumental sculpture devoted to "Herrmann
The Cherusker" (Herrman The German) who freed the German from
the Roman Invaders in the so-called Varus-Battle.
The sculpture is visible far over the Lipperland, standing on top of
the 386 m high Grotenburg mountain.The sculpture is 28 meter
and the complete building is about 60 meter tall.
It was built 1836 - 1875, facing West to France - the old enemy of those days.

Picture source unknown. Taken from an old postcard of 1901.


These are the "Externsteine" a natural monument some 25 kilometers
south-east from Lemgo near Horn - Bad Meinberg. These famous pile
of stones were a place for religious, justice and community tasks
in the pre-christian ages. Today it's a wellknown tourist site.

Picture source unknown. Taken from a 1958 Bertelsmann Lexicon.

A Recommendation

It is strongly recommended, that you visit Lemgo by yourself. Two possible ways: either you hate it or you fall in love with that little town, with her old houses and - of course - her people. I live in there since I was born. And if there weren't the neccessity to earn money (in the job I wanted to have) I would have been there all the time.
Things often don't run the way you've planned them - and I had to move partly away. But I always come back on Weekend. And this for a large number of years. If you have ever been here - you might come back, too.
And - hey, by the way - to come to Europe for a foreign (i.e. American) tourist is not so dangerous as being a european tourist in - say - Miami !

Those who want to have more Informations about Lemgo and Lippe might look at the Informations an these Web-Pages - but they are in German only !.

The footnote:
Some pictures are taken from the former mentioned book of Marianne Bonney "Lemgo - Gesicht einer Stadt"
ISBN 3-922 847-00-5, published by Steffen Verlag, Lemgo.
The other pictures are taken from a book called "100 Jahre Lemgo im Bild" of Ulrike Bongers
ISBN 3-7700-0792-1, published by Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf.

In both cases I have tried to contact the authors (and failed) but hope positively that they weren't too much annoyed that I made citates from their works for a non-commercial task.
The rights on text and pictures are still in the hands auf the mentioned persons or publishers.

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© 1998 Peter H. Wendt - pw software production