Sister Cities: Marbach am Neckar, Baden-Württemberg and Washington, MO


Tobias-Mayer-Museum, © Stadt Marbach am Neckar

13.12.2018 - Article

Original German text provided by the Stadt Marbach am Neckar

Wir sind Freunde! - We are friends!

This motto characterizes the partnership between Marbach am Neckar and Washington, Missouri, which has existed since 1990.

Washington, MO, a city with a population of 14,000 lying west of St. Louis on the Missouri River, is particularly proud of its German ancestors, who made an indelible mark on the cultural and economic life of the city. A versatile industrial sector ranging from milking machines to packaging material, transformers, lingerie, and truck bodies to corncob pipes supports the city’s economic growth. Washington is the shopping center for an area with 75,000 inhabitants. With over 300 retail stores, it is the largest shopping mall between St. Louis and Jefferson City.

Marbach am Neckar is located about 20 km north of Stuttgart, high above the Neckar River and surrounded by vineyards and orchards. With almost 16,000 inhabitants, a well-developed infrastructure, and a very lively cultural scene, Marbach is the gateway to the Bottwartal. Marbach am Neckar has made a name for itself above all as a city of literature.

The most famous Marbachers are the poet Friedrich Schiller, born here in 1759, the cartographer and mathematician Tobias Mayer (1723-1762), whose birthplace is a museum, and the lawyer Karl Georg von Wächter (1797-1880). The Schiller Museum, opened in 1903, and the founding of the German Literature Archive in 1955 strengthened Marbach’s reputation as a city of literature. In recent decades, the Archive, a collection and research center for recent German literature, has become a world-famous and respected center for collecting, indexing, and researching German literature.

The house where Friedrich Schiller was born, acquired by the Marbach Schiller Society and opened to the public on the 100th anniversary of the poet's birth in 1859, remains a dazzling attraction for locals and tourists to this day.

Marbach still has a strong function as a “sub-hub” for the surrounding communities, which is also due to its former administrative authority in the region. With the largest grammar school in Baden-Württemberg, the educational center (community and secondary school), a primary school, and a special-needs school, Marbach fulfills its role as a “school town” for the surrounding area. Finally, it impresses with its historic Old Town (preserved as a historical site), its lofty “gate tower,” which was completely restored in 2001 and opened to the public, and the cozy atmosphere of a Swabian town.

About the town twinning:

This town twinning was initiated in 1988 by Walt Hatcher on the American side and Dr. Helmut Sorg on the German side. The partnership agreement was officially signed on Novmber 10, 1990 in a moving ceremony in Humboldt Hall of the German Literature Archive by Mayors Stephen J. Reust and Heinz Georg Keppler.

Both founding fathers (Walt Hatcher and Dr. Helmut Sorg) were chairmen of the respective partnership committees for many years, which organize exchanges and meetings. Since then, care of this relationship has been placed into younger hands. In Washington, Karen Straatmann is now responsible for the exchange. Her counterpart in Marbach am Neckar is Daniel Hofsäß.

Despite the great distance, encounters take place on a civic, educational, cultural and musical level. The two fire brigades have also had close contacts with each other since they first got to know each other, and these contacts are maintained on a regular basis.

The Friedrich-Schiller-Gymnasium offers many young people the opportunity to travel to their twin city to become acquainted with life abroad through the annual student exchange.

In May 2017, a 42-member delegation led by Mayor Jan Trost visited the American twin city to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the twinning. The delegation consisted of representatives of the city administration, the municipal and local council, representatives of associations and parishes as well as representatives of the local press (Marbacher Zeitung and Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung) and over 20 members of the Marbacher and Rielingshäuser fire brigade.

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