Town twinning in North Rhine-Westphalia
The spirit and purpose of town twinning is to let people meet up together voluntarily across international borders.
The first German town twinning was between Kiel and Sonderburg in 1925, the next one between Wiesbaden and Klagenfurt in 1930. After the Second World War, from 1947 on, a greater number of town partnerships were formed with the aim of promoting international understanding. The town twinning movement was fuelled by thoughts of reconciliation and meeting with former enemies.
In 1947, town twinning between Düsseldorf and Reading, Bonn and Oxford, Hannover and Bristol, and Kiel and Coventry launched what can be called Europe's biggest and most successful 'peace movement'.
In 1951, 50 mayors from French and German cities gathered in Geneva with the same intention. They founded the Council of European Municipalities (known since 1984 as the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, CEMR), whose aim was reconciling the peoples of Europe and promoting cooperation across international borders. This laid the international foundations for the development of town twinning. The Council has had a German branch since 1955. (www.rgre.de)
Town twinning relationships between local authorities in Israel and Germany are particularly important in this 'peace movement', and the state of North Rhine- Westphalia has played an important role in this endeavour from the very beginning. Thus the first German city to be twinned with an Israeli city was Wuppertal with Beer Sheva in 1977. The number of partnerships has since risen to 28.
Many of these partnerships have been the starting point for further exchanges and contacts between choirs, sport clubs, other private initiatives as well as schools, thereby enabling people to come together.
List of twinned towns in North-Rhine Westphalia and Israel