City of Hagerstown and Wesel, Germany:
A Story of Friendship
to set an example to symbolize peace and the ending of a horrific
war, the City of Hagerstown and Wesel, Germany, formally joined
hands as sister cities by public proclamation on March 10, 1952.
These cities have continued to share this affiliation for the past
by the bombings from the U.S. Air Force in World War II, Wesel suffered
98% destruction of its town and the deaths of 600 of its citizens
in a three-day period of time in 1945. Despite this suffering, the
people of Wesel lived up to their honorary name of ``hospitable
Wesel" and reached out the olive branch to their former enemy –
an enemy who ultimately brought peace and freedom to their country.
process began in 1951 when Dr. Karl Heinz Reuber contacted Operation
Democracy in New York to seek assistance in finding an American
town that was suitable and willing to initiate a friendly relationship
with Wesel. County Manager of Rees County, Dr. von Bonninghausen,
also made personal contacts with Hagerstown while he was
touring the United States. Mayor Mills of Hagerstown seized
this gesture of friendship and responded positively to the official
offer of the Mayor of Wesel, Nr. Ewald Fournell. By 1952 the
pact was signed by both cities.
that time much has transpired and contacts between the two cities
have expanded. To foster and promote the partnership, each
city has exchanged activities and ideas such as the traditional
``key to the city," exhibitions to encourage an appreciation of
each city's people and culture, tours of the Fusternberg Men's Choir,
student exchange programs for high schools and even marriages –
Sally Burhans, Mayor Burhans' daughter, to Karl Heinz Buschmann.
both cities continue to promote programs such as the Augustoberfest
to celebrate the partnership of Hagerstown and Wesel. They realize
the importance of friendship and understanding in achieving world