The city of Offenburg, with the population of 56,000 people, is situated in the south-west part of Germany, on the territory of Schwarzwald (The Black Forest). It is an economic centre of the region that provided 40,000 of workplaces in various branches of the light industry – in printing houses, machine construction, chemical, plastic and electronic industry. A development of entrepreneurship has been stimulated by numerous fair events.
The idea of the sister cities is realised in the best way on the example of Olsztyn and the German city of Offenburg that established a town twinning agreement in 1999.
• The beginnings of their cooperation date back to the year 1981 and the initiative “Polenhilfe” (Help for Poland). At that time the City Council of Offenburg provided the inhabitants of Olsztyn with humanitarian help whereas Georg Dietrich, the owner of the transport company, used to travel to Olsztyn six times carrying food, clothes and medicine.
• Humanitarian help to Olsztyn was continued in the successive years in the form of so called “Christmas Bridges” organised by the German-Polish-Russian Circle of Friends set up by Georg Dietrich. Its help reached not only Olsztyn but also Kaliningrad. In 2006 the Circle organised the last “Christmas Bridge”, however, next year the initiative was resumed by the Foundation of Maria and Georg Dietrich. In recognition of their services, in 1998 the City Council of Olsztyn granted Georg Dietrich the title of the citizen of honour.
• Moreover, on 30 September 2005, the name of Maria and Georg Dietrich was given to the Auditory at the Department of Humanistic Studies at the University of Warmia and Mazuria. There was also the promotion of a biography by Georg Dietrich, a holder of a honorary degree of the University of Warmia and Mazuria. The event was attended by a group of the members of the Young Union (Jungen Union), whose visit to Poland was on one hand intended to give them a chance to get to know the country that Georg Dietrich treated as his second homeland and, on the other, to meet the Polish youth. They took part in the seminar “The Role of the Youth in the United Europe” organised by the political history students of the University of Warmia and Mazuria. The whole event was a part of the celebration of the Polish-German Year 2005/2006.
• Cooperation between Gelsenkirchen and the Olsztyn Children’s Hospital as well as the Educative Centre for the Deaf Children.
• Cooperation between the University of Warmia and Mazuria and the University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule) of Offenburg.
• For many years schools of the two cities, especially the Academic Highschool (former Catholic Highschool), co-founded by the Foundation of Maria and Georg Dietrich, have been maintaining partner cooperation. They organise exhibitions, artistic shows and take part in the youth exchange programs.
• It was in Offenburg that the idea of the youth Olympics of the sister cities came into being. Such an event has already been organized three times and is aimed, apart from popularizing sports, at maintaining friendly contacts between the young generations of the partner cities.
• Also the senior citizens of the two cities have been actively cooperating. In 2002 a group of the inhabitants of Offenburg visited the students of the University of the Third Age and established friendly contacts with them. Since then, they regularly visit each other, getting to know their cities, regions and culture. In 2003, the authorities of Offenburg, along with Brücke Association, invited Olsztyn to take part in Upper Rhine Fairs and present its cultural, tourist and economic offer.
• In May 2005 Olsztyn welcomed the Chamber Choir of Offenburg that had first visitedour city 20 years ago. The German singers gave a few concerts, one of them together with Medici Pro Musica, the Olsztyn doctors’ choir.
• On 8 May 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the end of the World War II, Offenburg organised an evening meeting commemorating that event. It was aimed at stressing the fact that the united Europe managed to overcome the cruelty of war and former enemies are able to share their experiences in a friendly atmosphere. The event was attended by the representatives of all the partner cities of Offenburg. Olsztyn delegated two people whose lives were strongly linked to the city history. They represented the Warmian family having lived in Olsztyn and its surroundings for 400 years and a repatriate from Volhynia who settled in the city at the beginning of 1945.
• In October 2005, Offenburg held an art exhibition, organised within an interdisciplinary project “Let’s Love Warmia”, presenting works of 20 Olsztyn artists. It was accompanied by a multilingual catalogue. It was the firstpresentationofthe“Let’s Love Our Small Homelands” project, presenting a broad scope of culture and fostering better human understanding.
• In July 2007, the Olsztyn Gallery of Artistic Exhibitions displayed “The Bridge of Art” presentation, created by the artists of Offenburg and Ortenau district.
• On 19 May 2006 Olsztyn celebrated the 25th anniversary of town twinning with Offenburg and 15th anniversary of partner cooperation with the city of Châteauroux.
Stadt OffenburgHauptstrasse 9077652 Offenburgwww.offenburg.de