First posted on May 25th 2008

Demographic History of Nordrhein-Westfalen

Note : this page is conceived telegram-style and selective (lists of wars deemed destructive, lists of epidemic diseases, years of famine etc.)
The data given below refer to Nordrhein-Westfalen in her post-1947 borders, including historical events pertaining to the territory further back in history.

Aging Society
Deportation & Genocide
Ethnic Minorities : Roma (Gypsies), Poles, Turks
Religious Minorities : Jews, Muslims
Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
Labour Migration : Immigration, Emigration
Political Refugees : Emigrants, Immigrants
Rural Population
Wartime Destruction : Battleground NRW

Aging Society
Due to a decrease in the birth rate and increasing life expectancy, since the 1960es the average age of the Nordrhein-Westfalen citizen has gradually increased.

Deportation & Genocide
1937-1945 Rhineland Bastards (children of French soldiers (Rheinland/Ruhr occupation) and German women; many were forcibly sterilized, others ended up in the cdamps)
1938-1945 Jews
1938-1945 Sinti and Roma (Gypsies)

Ethnic Minorities : Sinti and Roma (Gypsies)
Over the years exposed to attempts by state and local administration to force them to settle down, take on regular jobs, send their children to school and ultimately to integrate (with partial success). 1938-1945 subject to deportation and genocide

Ethnic Minorities : Poles
Poles began to immigrate into ther region in the 1850es, as the Ruhr area coal industry expanded strongly and miners were needed. By 1918 the northern part of the Ruhr coal mining region had such a high percentage of Poles respectively descendants of Polish immigrants that the establishment of a Polish Republic on the Ruhr was considered. Until 1918 there was no Polish state; the administration did not treat them as foreigners as they (i.e. most of them) were holders of Prussian passports.
The Poles on the Ruhr assimilated into German culture; the second generation was bilingual or only German-speaking; the third generation only German speaking. They maintained their Catholic faith. Intermarriage with Germans was frequent. During Nazi rule 1933-1945 a number of Polish families were induced to have their family names Germanized. Immigration of Poles into the region continued, on a much reduced scale, throughout the 19th century.

Ethnic Minorities : Turks
In 1961 the Berlin Wall ended the steady influx of workers from the GDR; the West German industries, needing extra workers, brought in "guest workers", most notably from Turkey. These Turks often came from the countryside, lacked education, were willing to take on low-paid jobs as unskilled workers. They took up residents in low-rent housing. The first generation Turks only spoke rudimentary German, kept to themselves, lived according to Turkish traditions. The children of those Turks who grew up in Germany were bilingual, living according to Turkish traditions at home, according to the rules of German society outside. The process of asimilation is ongoing, complicated by the contrast between Christian German and Muslim Turkish society.

Religious Minorities : Jews
Prussia emancipated the Jews in 1812. The boom of the Ruhr region attracted immigrants, among them Jews, mainly assimilated Jews. The Nürnberg (Nuremberg) Laws of 1935 deprived the Jews of their Prussian nationality; large scale pogrom 1938 (Night of the Broken Glass); partial exodus 1938-1939, deportation and genocide 1939-1945. Many of the survivors emigrated in 1945. Today the Jewish community in NRW is a fraction of her former size. The recruitment of Turkish guest workers was stopped in 1975.

Religious Minorities : Muslims
Mainly formed by the Turks who immigrated in 1961-1975 and their descendants; also Bosnian Muslim refugees who came in !1987) 1992-1995. Their mosques are inconspicuous. The children of NRW Muslims, just as everybody else, attend state schools (private schools do exist, but charge fees in contrast to state schools; statistically they are irrelevant).

Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
1350 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1439 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1484 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1519 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1529 English Fever (Sudor Anglicus) in Stift Minden
1532 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1553 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1577 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1581 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1598 Black Plague in Stift Minden
1616 Black Plague in Hemer, Duchy of Westfalen
1620-1621 Plague struck Westfalen
1635-1636 Plague struck Westfalen
1645 Plague struck Westfalen
1656 Smallpox in Stift Minden
1747 Rote Ruhr (Dysentery ?) in Stift Minden
1796 Dysentery
1872 Schwarze Pocken

1400 Famine in Stift Paderborn
1533-1534 Siege of Münster; Famine in the City
1573-1574 Misharvest in Stift Minden
1577-1588 Famine in Hagen
1593, 1594 Misharvest in Stift Minden
1596 Misharvest in Stift Minden
1618-1648 Thirty Years War caused Famine
1756-1763 Seven Years War caused Famine 1770-1772 Great Famine
1795-1796 Famine in the Rhineland, Westfalen (Misharvest)
1816-1817 Great Famine (Misharvest)
1830-1832 Famine in Westfalen
1841-1843 Famine in Lippe (Decline of Textile Industry)
1845-1847 Famine in Westfalen (Misharvest)
1855 Famine in Lüdenscheid
1914-1918 Food Rationing, since 1916 Famine (War)
1923 Hyperinflation; French Occupation of Rhine and Ruhr, severe food shortage
1939-1945 Food Rationing (War)
1945-1948 Black Market Economy, 1945-1947 severe food shortage

Labour Migration : Immigration
1848- massive immigration into the Ruhr area from other parts of the Rhineland, Westfalen, but soon also from other parts of Prussia, most notably the Polish-speaking regions of Prussia
1915-1918 involuntary immigration of Belgian Forced Labour
1939-1945 involuntary immigration of Forced Labour, from areas occupied by German forces
1961-1975 immigration of guest workers, mainly from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy, Spain; South Korean miners and nurses

Labour Migration : Emigration
1100-1250 peasants, to (formerly) Slavic lands : Ostsiedlung
1200-1500 to the Hanseatic Cities on the Baltic Sea; to Prussia, Livonia
1648-1914 : Hollandgänger - persons who, from economically poorer regions in Westfalen (Lippe, Tecklenburg, Stift Minden, parts of Upper Stift Münster) seasonally went to the richer provinces of the Dutch Republic (Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Utrecht) in search for work
c. 1840- to America, especially from the poorer regions of Westfalen

Political Refugees : Emigrants
1830-1860 German patriots, Freethinkers, from Restauration Prussia to France
1938-1939 German Jews

Political Refugees : Immigrants (in part temporary)
1789-1795 French refugies, emigres (nobles, clergymen)
1945-1948 immigration of ethnic German refugees from east of the Oder-Neisse Line, from Czechoslovakia, Poland etc.
1949-1961 immigration of refugees from GDR
1968 Czechoslovakians
1987-1999 Yugoslavians (Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Kosovo Albanians etc.)

Rural Population
In Prussia liberation of the serfs 1807. The size of farms was traditionally smaller than those in the lands east of the Elbe river; the local nobility was broke by 1789, many castles in disrepair. Peasants had to look for a second income (putting-out system, cotrtage industries, seasonal emigration (Hollandgänger). The economic changes caused by the early Industrial Revolution (1830-1870) caused a decline in standards of living which was balanced by the booming coal mining and dependent industries on the Ruhr river. Strong migration from the countryside into urban centers; also emigration overseas. From 1870 on situation stabilized.
In times of war (1914-1918, 1939-1945) and inflation (1918-1923, 1945-1948), farmers were better off than urban population, as food was scarce.
During the economic boom of the 1950es, the income of farmers by comparison to that of urban workers dropped, causing farmers tio give up farming and miove into the cities. The EU tried to halt that trend by subsidizing farming (1957-); in the 1980es a policy to reduce these subsidies was implemented.

Köln (Cologne), Aachen, Bonn, Neuss, Xanten trace their origins back to Roman times. From the arly Middle Ages, K¨ln, Münster, Minden, Paderborn seats of bishoprics, Essen and Herford of important abbeys. Dortmund and Duisburg emerge as cities around Imperial curtis.
By the Late Middle Ages : Free Imperial Cities : Aachen, Köln, Dortmund; Duchy of Kleve (Cleves) : Kleve, Emmerich, Rees, Wesel, Duisburg, Kalkar, Xanten. Ruhrort city since 16th C.; Duchy of Geldern (within NRW) : Geldern, Erkelenz, Goch; Duchy of Jülich (Juliers) : Jülich, Düren, Münstereifel, Nideggen, Euskirchen, Bergheim, Kaster, Grevenbroich, Gladbach (= Mönchengladbach), Dahlen (= Rheindahlen), Dülken, Linnich, Montjoie (Monschau); Erzstift Köln : Bonn, Neuss, Zons, Uerdingen (now Krefeld-Ue.), Vest Recklinghausen : Recklinghausen, Dorsten; Duchy Westfalen : Arnsberg, Olpe, Werl, Medebach, Schmallenberg, Winterberg, County Moers : Moers, Krefeld, Duchy Berg : Düsseldorf, Ratingen, Barmen, Elberfeld, Solingen, Remscheid, Gladbach (Bergisch-G.), Siegburg, Lennep, Wipperfürth; County Mark : Hamm, Unna, Kamen, Schwerte, Lünen, Iserlohn, Hattingen, Bochum, Bergneustadt, Plettenberg, Neuenrade, Soest, Steele (since 1578); Duchy of Nassau : Siegen, Stift Paderborn : Paderborn, Driburg, Warstein, Brakel, County Lippe : Lippstadt, Lemgo, Detmold, County Ravensberg : Bielefeld, Herford, Vlotho, Stift Minden : Minden, Petershagen; Rheda, Rietberg; Stift Münster : Münster, Coesfeld, Ahaus, Beckum, Telgte, Warendorf, Ahlen. Places with the status of Freiheit, later treated as cities : Altena, Wattenscheid and many more. Lüdinghausen; Steinfurt; Tecklenburg.
Urbanisation in connection with industrialization : Herdecke 1739, Hagen 1746, Witten 1823, Mülheim / Ruhr 1806/1846, Rheydt (now Mönchengladbach-Rh.) 1856, Oberhausen 1874, Gelsenkirchen 1875, Meiderich (now Duisburg-M.) 1894, Herne 1897, Hörde (now Dortmund-H.) 1911, Wanne-Eickel 1926, Castrop-Rauxel 1926, in 1926 Barmen and Elberfeld were merged to form Wuppertal, Rheinhausen (now Duisburg-Rh.) 1934, Marl 1936, Herbede (now Witten-H.) 1951.
Cities until 1848 rather limited in size (city walls) and population. The canalization of the Ruhr (1780-1801) and even more the construction of railroads (Köln-Dortmund 1848) caused rapid growth of urban centers, especially in the coal mining region along the Ruhr. Dortmund had between 4,000 and 5,000 prior to being connected to the railroad in 1848; by the end of the year, the population had risen to about 10,000, by 1900 111,200, by 2001 (after suburbs had been annexed) to 589,000.

Wartime Destruction : Battlefield NRW
1388-1390 Dortmund Feud
1444-1449 Soest Feud
1533-1534 Münster Feud
1546-1547 Schmalkaldic War : Minden Stift Feud
1579-1609 Spanish-Dutch War
1583-1584 Cologne Stift Feud
1618-1648 Thirty Years War
1681-1689 Reunions
1689-1697 War of the Grand Alliance
1701-1714 War ofSpanish Succession
1741-1748 War of Austrian Succession
1756-1763 Seven Years War
1792-1795 First War of the Coalition
1920 Ruhr Rebellion
1923 French Occupation of the Ruhr Area
1939-1945 World War II; Aerial Bombardment; in 1944-1945 battleground

Zeittafel (1770-1840), from Der Aufbruch in die Moderne - Das Beispiel Westfalen
Daten zur Geschichte der Stadt Lüdenscheid, from Stadt Lüdenscheid
Die Geschichte der Stadt Hagen, by Carolus Wenderoth
Chronologische Abfolge, from Oppenwehe, das Spargeldorf
Geschichte Lippes, from Landesverband Lippe
Geschichte der Gemeinde Heek, from Internetportal der Gemeinde Heek
Die Oespeler Chtronik, by Roy Jasper
Stadtchronik, from Historisches Centrum Hagen
Geschichte von Altenbeken, from Altenbekener Eisenbahnfreunde
Geschichte (of Nettelstedt), from Der Schnepel
Article Hollandgänger, from Wikipedia German edition
Sozialberichte NRW Online
Bevölkerung, from NRW Gesundheitsberichterstattung
1955 Gastarbeiter kommen nach NRW, from NRW 2000
Angekommen ... La Regione della Ruhr. Migrantengeschichten aus dem Bergbau (Arrived. The Ruhr Region. Histories of Migrant Workers in the Mining Industry) in German
DOCUMENTS Germany, Development of Urban Population, from Population Statistics by Jan Lahmeyer
REFERENCE B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted om May 25th 2008, last revised on June 13th 2008

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