Hanover or Hannover, on the River Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later described as the Elector of Hanover). At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Electorate was enlarged to become the capital of the Kingdom of Hanover. Hanover is located west of Berlin, south of Hamburg, north of Munich, and east of Osnabrück.
From 1868 to 1946 Hanover was the capital of the Prussian Province of Hanover and also of the Hanover administrative region until that was abolished in 2005. It is now the capital of the Land of Lower Saxony. Since 2001 it is part of the Hanover district (Region Hannover), which is a municipal body made up from the former district (Landkreis Hannover) and city of Hanover (note: although both Region and Landkreis are translated as district they are not the same).
With a population of 518,000, Hanover is a major centre of Northern Germany and the country's thirteenth largest city. Hanover also hosts annual commercial trade fairs such as the Hanover Fair and the CeBIT. Every year Hanover hosts the Schützenfest Hannover, the world's largest marksmen's festival, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest Oktoberfest in the world (beside Oktoberfest of Blumenau). In 2000, Hanover hosted the world fair Expo 2000. The Hanover fairground, due to numerous extensions, especially for the Expo 2000, is the largest in the world. Hanover is of national importance because of its universities and medical school, its international airport and its large zoo. The city is also a major crossing point of railway lines and highways (Autobahnen), connecting European main lines in both the east-west (Berlin - Ruhr area) and north-south (Hamburg - Munich, etc.) directions.
"Hanover" is the traditional English spelling. The German spelling (with a double n) is becoming more popular in English; recent editions of encyclopedias prefer the German spelling, and local government uses the German spelling on English websites. The English pronunciation is applied to both the German and English spellings, which is different from German pronunciation . The traditional English spelling is still used in historical contexts, especially when referring to the British House of Hanover.
Hanover was founded in medieval times on the east bank of the River Leine. Its original name Honovere may mean "high (river)bank", though this is debated (cf. das Hohe Ufer). Hanover was a small village of ferrymen and fishermen that became a comparatively large town in the 13th century due to its position at a natural crossroads. As overland travel was relatively difficult, its position on the upper navigable reaches of the river helped it to grow by increasing trade. It was connected to the Hanseatic League city of Bremen by the Leine, and was situated near the southern edge of the wide North German Plain and north-west of the Harz mountains, so that east-west traffic such as mule trains passed through it. Hanover was thus a gateway to the Rhine, Ruhr and Saar river valleys, their industrial areas which grew up to the southwest and the plains regions to the east and north, for overland traffic skirting the Harz between the Low Countries and Saxony or Thuringia.
In the 14th century the main churches of Hanover were built, as well as a city wall with three city gates. The beginning of industrialization in Germany led to trade in iron and silver from the northern Harz Mountains, which increased the city's importance.
In 1636 George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ruler of the Brunswick-Lüneburg principality of Calenberg, moved his residence to Hanover. The Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg were elevated by the Holy Roman Emperor to the rank of Prince-Elector in 1692, and this elevation was confirmed by the Imperial Diet in 1708. Thus the principality was upgraded to the Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg, colloquially known as the Electorate of Hanover after Calenberg's capital (see also: House of Hanover). Its electors would later become monarchs of Great Britain (and from 1801, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland). The first of these was George I Louis, who acceded to the British throne in 1714. The last British monarch who ruled in Hanover was William IV. Salic law, which required succession by the male line, forbade the accession of Queen Victoria in Hanover. As a male-line descendant of George I, Queen Victoria was herself a member of the House of Hanover. Her descendants, however, bore her husband's titular name of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Three kings of Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, were at the same time Electoral Princes of Hanover.
During the time of the personal union of the crowns of the United Kingdom and Hanover (1714–1837), the monarchs rarely visited the city. In fact, during the reigns of the final three joint rulers (1760–1837), there was only one short visit, by George IV in 1821. From 1816 to 1837 Viceroy Adolphus represented the monarch in Hanover.
During the Seven Years' War, the Battle of Hastenbeck was fought near the city on 26 July 1757. The French army defeated the Hanoverian Army of Observation, leading to the city's occupation as part of the Invasion of Hanover. It was recaptured by Anglo-German forces led by Ferdinand of Brunswick the following year.
After Napoleon imposed the Convention of Artlenburg (Convention of the Elbe) on July 5, 1803, about 30,000 French soldiers occupied Hanover. The Convention also required disbanding the army of Hanover. However, George III did not recognize the Convention of the Elbe. This resulted in a great number of soldiers from Hanover eventually emigrating to Great Britain, where the King's German Legion was formed. It was the only German army to fight against France throughout the entire Napoleonic wars. The Legion later played an important role in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 elevated the electorate to the Kingdom of Hanover. The capital town Hanover expanded to the western bank of the Leine and since then has grown considerably.
In 1837, the personal union of the United Kingdom and Hanover ended because William IV's heir in the United Kingdom was female (Queen Victoria). According to Salic Law Hanover could only be inherited by maleheirs. Hanover passed to William IV's brother, Ernest Augustus, and remained a kingdom until 1866, when it was annexed by Prussia during the Austro-Prussian war. Despite being expected to defeat Prussia at the Battle of Langensalza, Prussia employed Moltke the Elder's Kesselschlacht order of battle to instead destroy the Hanoverian army. The city of Hanover became the capital of the Prussian Province of Hanover. After the annexation, the people of Hanover generally opposed the Prussian government.
For Hanover's industry, however, the new connection with Prussia meant an improvement in business. The introduction of free trade promoted economic growth, and led to the recovery of the Gründerzeit (founders' era). Between 1871 and 1912 Hanover's population grew from 87,600 to 313,400.
After 1937 the Lord Mayor and the state commissioners of Hanover were members of the NSDAP (Nazi party). As large Jewish population then existed in Hanover. In October 1938, 484 Hanoverian Jews of Polish origin were expelled to Poland, including the Grynszpan family . However, Poland refused to accept them, leaving them stranded at the border with thousands of other Polish-Jewish deportees, fed only intermittently by the Polish Red Cross and Jewish welfare organisations. The Gryszpan's son Herschel Grynszpan was in Paris at the time. When he learned what was happening, he drove to the German embassy in Paris and murdered the German diplomat Eduard Ernst vom Rath.
After the war a large group of Orthodox Jewish survivors of the nearby Bergen-Belsen concentration camp settled in Hanover. The Orthodox Jewish community was led by Rabbi Chaim Pinchos Lubinsky. Rabbi Lubinsky was assisted in this capacity by Rabbi Shlomo Zev Zweigenhaft . Following the departure of Rabbi Lubinsky in 1949, Rabbi Zweigenhaft assumed the position of Chief Rabbi of Hanover. Shortly thereafter Rabbi Zweigenhaft was appointed Chief Rabbi of the entire Lower Saxony, a position he held until his departure in 1951. The Orthodox Jewish community made every attempt to persuade Rabbi Zweigenhaft to remain, even offering to fund his weekly journey from Switzerland . However, he turned down the proposal, and the leaderless Orthodox Jewish community began to disperse and soon ceased to exist. Both Rabbis Lubinsky and Zweigenhaft settled in the United States .
World War II
As an important road junction, railhead and production center, Hanover was a major target for strategic bombing during World War II, including the Oil Campaign. Targets included the AFA (Stöcken), the Deurag-Nerag refinery (Misburg), the Continental plants (Vahrenwald and Limmer), the United light metal works (VLW) in Ricklingen and Laatzen (today Hanover fairground), the Hanover/Limmer rubber reclamation plant, the Hanomag factory (Linden) and the tank factory M.N.H. Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen (Badenstedt). Forced labourers were sometimes used from the Hannover-Misburg subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. Residential areas were also targeted, and more than 6,000 civilians were killed by the Allied bombing raids. More than 90% of the city center was destroyed in a total of 88 bombing raids. After the war, the was not rebuilt and its ruins were left as a war memorial.
The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Hanover in April 1945. The US 84th Infantry Division captured the city on 10 April 1945.
Today Hanover is a Vice-President City of Mayors for Peace, an international mayoral organisation mobilising cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020.