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On the history trail

As Château Salder proves, although it was not founded till 1942 Salzgitter is not a test-tube town. It is part of an interesting cultural and historical region between the Harz Mountains and the Lüneburg Heath.
Burgruine Lichtenberg Großbildansicht

Its deposits of iron-ore were well-known around the time of Christ's birth. Germanic tribes smelted it in 'smelting furnaces'. As early as 50.000 years ago an 'early Lower Saxon', an ice-age hunter, found the way to Salzgitter. His mortal remains were discovered in 1952.

Further witnesses to living history are Château Ringelheim with its Baroque church dating from 1694 and its valuable organ; the moated mansion of Gebhardshagen, almost 1000 years old; Engerode Chapel with its precious Gothic frescoes, one of the oldest places of pilgrimage in North Germany; Flachstöckheim Manor with an English park; the Steterburg Foundation - a religious foundation for women, founded in 1031, replaced an early medieval castle - and the ruins of Castle Lichtenberg, built by Duke Henry the Lion.

On the history trail situated on a steep summit of the Lichtenberge chain, it was needed by the Guelph Duke of Brunswick to secure his power against the bishop's seat of Hildesheim and the emperor's Goslar. After the open dispute be tween Henry the Lion and the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa it was a top target for the imperial troops in 1180. Barbarossa captured Lichtenberg Castle and it was not returned to the Guelphs till 1194, by his successor Henry VI. it was destroyed much later, at the end of the Schmalkadic War in 1552. From the watchtower there is a marvellous view across northern Salzgitter as far as Brunswick and to the landscape of the North German mountain chain. The renovated masonry houses a new permanent exhibition about the castle and its history.

At the other end of the Lichtenberge chain it is well worth climbing up to the Bismarck Tower in Salzgitter-Bad. It is hardly possible to get closer to the Brocken, the highest (1.142 m) peak in the Harz Mountains.

Schloss Salder. Großbildansicht

Municipal Museum Château Salder

Château Salder bears its 400 years proudly. It was built in 1608 in the Weser Renaissance style. An ancient family in the duchy of Brunswick, the von Salders, lived in an old manor house there since the early Middle Ages, but left for property to the east of the Elbe around 1600. In 1641 there was a famous visitor in the house's 'guest list'; Piccolimini, commander of the Catholic League in the Thirty-Years War occupied the château and the manor house with his cavalry.

In 1695 Prince Augustus William, heir to Duke Anthony Ulric of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, bought Château Salder and had it thoroughly renovated. It has belonged to the municipality of Salzgitter since 1955 and now houses the Municipal Museum, opened to the public in 1981 after renovation and restoration.

The Municipal Museum Château Salder is divided into three museums. In the Museum for Municipal History the visitor can gain many interesting impressions ranging from the geological beginnings, through primeval and early history, the Middle Ages and the succeeding time up to the 20th-century developments. The Museum for Industry, Technology, Labour and Mobility depicts the industrial and technological history of Salzgitter and the region between the Harz Mountains and the Lüneburg Heath since the 19th century.

The 'star' of the Geological Department is a marine reptile, the ichthyosaurus, which lived 115 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous Period and whose skeleton was found under ground in Salzgitter in 1941 when mining for metal started. The Museum for the History of Childhood not only displays a large number of historical toys from the 19th and 29th centuries but also aims at giving an impression of the way children lived in this region.

Château Salder's former byre has been fitted out as the Municipal Art Gallery. Art from the municipal collection on the theme of the world of work is exhibited regularly and there are also changing exhibitions of modern fine art. The annual climax is the Salon Salder with work from the studios of Lower Saxony's artists. The exhibitions held in the Byre Art Gallery in the Municipal Museum Château Salder are complemented by a permanent exhibition in public areas called KUNSTüberall (ARTeverywhere) with sculptures and objects by well-known national and international artists.

Stadtmonument in der Lebenstedter Innenstadt. Großbildansicht

Under the Tester

More than six decades are carved in marble and cast in bronze in the centre of Lebenstedt. Salzgitter's landmark, the Monument to the Town's History, was created by the Brunswick sculptor Professor Jürgen Weber and publicly dedicated in 1995. It is the town's acknowledgement of its own and Germany's recent history.

Unique in contemporary art, the Monument encapsulates the memories of the way the industrial area and the town were built up during the Nazi era and forced labour was used in the Reichs Works. It is also a memorial to the suffering and death of innumerable people fleeing from the former German eastern territories at the end of the Second World War; to the dismantling of industrial facilities by the allies after 1945 and the workers' resistance but also to the development of an economic area into Lower Saxony's third largest industrial site.

Nearly 14 metres high and weighing some 750 hundredweight, the Monument stands in the middle of the much frequented town centre and gives a town which is still young a sense of its identity. At the very top stands the tester from the foundry, symbolizing people's will to live and rebuild.

For many people, looking at this sculpture is like seeing the story of their own lives. There are three other places which ensure that Salzgitter's recent history is not forgotten: the Memorial Cemeteries of Jammertal and Westerholz, last resting place of 4.000 concentrationcamp prisoners and forced labourers, who lost their lives during the Second World War, and the Concentration-Camp Memorial and Documentation Centre in Drütte. The concentration camp in Drütte was set up in 1942 as one of the first and largest outposts of the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg. More than 3.000 people of various nationalities were imprisoned here and forced to work at producing armaments.

Dienstag, 26.01.2010

Drütte Concentration Camp

Memorial Site/Documentation Center

Logo: Salzgitter