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Wismar's Twinned Towns


Partnerships with other European towns

Every year the Hanseatic Town of Wismar hosts the traditional Swedish Festival. The bond between Wismar and Sweden is of particular significance not only due to their shared history but because the Swedish town of Kalmar is one of Wismar's five twinned towns.

Read here about the other towns twinned with Wismar, how the partnerships came to be and how those ties are maintained.


Kalmar/Sweden


Kalmar is a town with approx. 36,000 inhabitants in the south-east of Sweden, which like Wismar lies on the coast. The partnership with Kalmar, which was ratified in 2002, is Wismar's most intensive with the greatest number of contacts. Citizens of Kalmar regularly take part in Wismar's Swedish Festival.

The German-Swedish Society in Wismar also contributes to a lively exchange programme between the two towns.

Younger citizens also benefit from the twinning; since 2006 there have been contacts between youth centres in Kalmar and Wismar, as well as sailing tours by Wismar ships the Qualle and Atalanta to the Swedish twinned town, including some specifically for young people with the aim of promoting international youth exchanges.


Aalborg/Denmark


Aalborg and Wismar became twinned towns during the 'Batic Sea Week' in 1963. Delegations from Aalborg travelled to Wismar thanks to the 'GDR-Danish Friendship Society', and travel groups visited the Danish town.

The contacts today are wide-ranging; politicians and school classes from Aalborg visit Wismar, an orchestra from the Danish town played at the 2004 State Flower Show in Wismar and young sportsmen and women in judo, volleyball, handball and field athletics have taken part in international youth games.


Halden/Norway


Halden forms an exception amongst Wismar's twinned towns, in as far as it is not officially twinned (as Halden only twins with other Scandinavian towns). However the two towns have enjoyed friendly relations since 1991, chiefly to serve the promotion of regional business. How the connection came to be was a coincidence however – employees of the Port of Wismar had visited the Scandinavian Embassies in Bonn during the Reunification with the aim of making contacts to boost revenues.

One of the employees at the embassy hails from Halden, and it was he who then set the relationship in motion. The partnership is also responsible for contributing to the success of the Wismar Christmas Market – the impressive fir tree erected in the market square each year hails from the Norwegian town.

Similarly to Kalmar, groups of young people have also taken part in sailing tours with the Atalanta to Halden.


Kemi/Finland


Kemi is Wismar's oldest twinned town, dating back to 1959 and the second 'Baltic Sea Week', where Kemi's mayor was a guest of Wismar. Shortly afterwards a group from Wismar paid visit to the Finnish town. Kemi, like Wismar, is a port town located at where the mouth of Finland's longest river, the Kemijoki, meets the Bay of Bothnia.

Due to the distances involved, the relationship with Kemi is relatively subdued, but there does exist a school partnership between the two towns, and the hope is that future relations will  intensify.


Calais/France


Officially the towns of Wismar and Calais have been twinned since 1971, but a friendship treaty between the two had existed since 1966. At the time of the twinning, the two towns enjoyed a similar political outlook – Wismar, as part of the GDR, had a communist government, and the commune of Calais similarly had a communist mayor. It was the town of Calais that lead the call for the French Government to officially recognize the GDR as a state. The GDR was dissolved in 1990, but the French Communist Party continued to rule in Calais until 2008.

Student exchanges between the two towns have taken place for several years, while local politicians have enjoyed reciprocal invitations to the town's major festivals – the Swedish Festival in Wismar, and the Calais International Parade.


Lübeck/Germany


Lübeck and Wismar have been twinned towns since 1987 despite being in the same country. Of course, at the time this was not the case, Wismar being part of the German Democratic Republic until the reunification of Germany in 1990.

Within the framework of attempts at inter-German rapprochement (based on a 1972 treaty), a series of twinned town partnerships were agreed. Lübeck expressed interest in a twin town that also lay on the Baltic Sea coast, and after an initial offer to Rostock was ignored, it turned to Wismar.

The twinning contributed to mutual understanding and the maintenance of peace in the region. In the wake of the laying of foundation stone for the reconstruction of St. Georgen Church in 1988, the 'Lübecker Forum' made a particular commitment to the project.

Wismar and Lübeck share a long history together – as far back as 1259, the towns signed an alliance treaty to protect mutual trade routes that would be a precursor to the formation of the Hanseatic League.


Why have Twinned Towns?


The predominant purpose of twinned towns is to promote ties between different peoples and nations, although the towns involved should have some point of connection, whether it be cultural or economic or both. Wismar's legislative assembly, the Bürgerschaft, decides on the number and nature of of twinned towns. Importantly, the pa rtnership should be a living entity, with regular exchanges.

The page was created as part of a two week internship in the Press Office of the Hanseatic Town of Wismar in 2007 by Wiebke Neelsen, who at the time was a student of the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Gymnasium.