History of the town

History of the town

Around the year 1250, the Lippish nobleman Bernhard III established the heavily fortified castle of Blomberg on a mountainous spur, with a view to consolidating his claim to domination over what is today south-eastern Lippe. It also served to ensure and oversee two important medieval roads that crossed in the immediate vicinity. The systematic structure of the town began around the same time with a layout typical for the time, which divided the town into four districts by means of a longitudinal road and one intersecting it. The first documented mention of Blomberg comes from the year 1283. The city was fortified with a mound and a wall and goings-on around the town could be monitored from several watchtowers in the close vicinity. Several towers on the wall, which has been preserved in the western area of the city, and three big city gates further ensured the city’s safety. The lower gate, which survives to this day, is the only city gate left in Lippe. It is a significant monument and also one of Blomberg’s landmarks.

About 200 years after their foundation, the castle and the town of Blomberg were almost completely destroyed in the so-called Soester feud. The reconstruction was favoured by an event, which the fountain statue on the Marketplace commemorates: A woman called Alheyd Pustkoke stole consecrated communion hosts from the Blomberg town church, but out of fear of being discovered she threw them into a well. She was arrested, tortured and burned at the stake. It was henceforth claimed that the water of the well was miraculous and it attracted many pilgrims from near and far. In the 1970s, a Blomberg pilgrim’s badge was found in Amsterdam during the construction of the underground railway. A chapel was initially built over the miraculous well, and later a church, which is today the evangelical-reformed church. It is also called the monastery church, as a monastery was immediately founded to provide for the pilgrims.

In the 16th century, Blomberg experienced its heyday in terms of construction, which saw the construction of the castle, the town hall and the so-called “Amtshaus” (administration building) on the Pideritplatz, which adorn the city with their Weser Renaissance style to this day. The Thirty Years War (1618-1648) heralded a significant decline of the urban development. The population fell by almost two-thirds to 675 and more than half of the houses were uninhabited. Only slowly did the city recover from this setback; crafts and trade were the driving forces behind this. Initially, the shoemaking trade developed so strongly that Blomberg shoes were also being sold on foreign markets; later it was a carpentry which was to gain significance in Blomberg. From this craft, a thriving chair industry developed at the end of the 19th century, which sold its wares both across Germany and in neighbouring countries. The first beech plywood board in the world was also developed in Blomberg, which clearly inspired the mass production of furniture in general. The further technical development of plywood board finds itself today as, among other things, the floor panels in the Formula 1 race cars and in high-speed trains - and just as before it is still produced in Blomberg.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Friedrich Vochting and Carl Gronemann founded a carnation cultivation business, which gained international recognition for itself and gave the city its moniker of the “Carnation Town”, which is still commonly used to this day. Hermann Vochting, who was born in 1847, was one of the greatest botanists of his time. Around the same time, Louis Paulsen from Nassengrund outside of the city gates, rose to world fame as one of the greatest chess players of his time.

From the end of the 15th century, there was a small Jewish community in Blomberg, which erected its own Synagogue in 1808. Following emigration and the deportation of the last female Jewish resident to a foreign retirement home, the community was dissolved during the Nazi years. The surviving synagogue building now houses the Blomberg city archive.

In the Second World War, Blomberg remained largely spared from the ravages of the fighting, however, 205 Blomberg citizens gave their lives as soldiers, and a further 105 went missing. After the end of the war, many refugees and people who had been bombed out of their homes found themselves in Blomberg, most of whom made their home in the town. Additionally, up to 1500 displaced persons from the Baltic States were housed here over a period of six years. In 1944, Phoenix Contact, which is an internationally active company to this day, was moved to Blomberg. It replaced the initially prosperous Blomberg chair industry as the largest employer.

In 1962, during the cold war era, Blomberg became a NATO location with the deployment of a Dutch air defence unit (3 GGW). With the cessation of the east-west conflict in 1996, the Dutch military presence in Blomberg came to an end, but many personal and business connections and traditions remain to this day. Also, in 1996 the ladies handball players of HSG Blomberg-Lippe made it into the first division, in which they are represented to this day.

In 1970, Blomberg gained a new identity by means of its municipal reorganisation. The 18 previously independent village communities that were merged with Blomberg today form the almost 100 sq. km of the town of Blomberg. The year of 2005 entered into the annals of the city, as the then chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who was born in the Blomberg district of Mossenberg, met with his French counterpart, Jaques Chirac, in the town for a regular German-French consultation.

The town of Blomberg today numbers almost 16,000 inhabitants, and their business, education, justice, culture and management activities form the central local functions in the Lippish south-east.