Life & society
Why do the people of Bremen call their flag the Speckflagge or 'bacon flag'? And why does the Bremen coat of arms feature in the logo for Hamburg-based newspaper Die Zeit? Find the answers in Best of Bremen.
BREMEN’S BACON FLAG
The people of Bremen affectionately call their flag the Speckflagge (bacon flag) in reference to its red and white stripes and checked pattern towards the hoist.
GUARDIAN ANGELS OF GERMANY’S COAST
From its base in Bremen, the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service has been responsible for the safety of all vessels along Germany’s North Sea and Baltic coasts for more than 140 years. Its operations centre is located on the Weser river.
A PARK FOR THE PEOPLE
The Bürgerpark (people’s park) in Bremen has been funded solely by donations for more than 140 years. Covering an area of 202.5 hectares, it is the largest privately financed municipal park in Germany.
LESS TALK, MORE ACTION
The people of Bremen are traditionally very community minded and like
to help out their fellow citizens. That’s why, for example, the city has more than 300 charitable foundations.
IT’S ALL IN THE NAME
In the USA , there are no fewer than ten towns called Bremen. And in 2003, the passengers and crew of the MSB remen cruise ship came across a previously uncharted island in Antarctica that is now officially known as
‘Bremen Island'. It is separated from its neighbouring islands by the ‘Bremen Channel’.
TWO WHEELS ARE BETTER THAN FOUR
Bremen is a compact city, making it easy to travel around. What’s more, around 22 per cent of its entire transport network consists of cycle paths – a higher proportion than in any other major German city. And staying on the subject of cycling, Bremen is home to the head office of the German Cyclists’ Federation (ADFC), which was founded here in 1979.
FLOWING OR FROZEN?
Is the river ‘going’ or ‘staying’, i.e. is it flowing or frozen over? Every year since 1829, this question has been answered on 6 January at the traditional ice wager ceremony. To prove which is the case, a tailor holding a red-hot iron has to walk from one side of the river to the other without getting wet. The last time the Weser was completely frozen over on 6 January was in 1947.
Founded in 1969, the cinema in Bremen-Ostertor was Germany’s first arthouse movie theatre and remains a popular place to watch films outside the Hollywood mainstream.
THINK BREMEN’S SMALL? THINK AGAIN.
Bremen, which covers an area of 325 square kilometres and has a population of nearly 550,000, is the tenth biggest city in Germany. It also occupies sixth place in the ranking of major German industrial hubs.
The Zoo am Meer (zoo by the sea) in Bremerhaven opened its doors to the
public on 24 June 1928 and remains hugely popular thanks to its polar bears, seals and penguins.
BREMEN TREES IN BERLIN’S PARK
In 1949, the mayor of Bremen Wilhelm Kaisen donated 30,000 trees to Berlin after the woods in the city’s Tiergarten Park had to be chopped down for firewood at the end of the Second World War.
CATHEDRAL OF CALIBRE
St. Petri Cathedral is one of Bremen’s most eye-catching landmarks and dominates the cityscape whatever the time of day. An old Bremen tradition dictates that no building in the city can be taller than the cathedral. For technical reasons, however, a blind eye had to be turned in the case of the TV tower and the drop tower at Bremen University.
PARLIAMENT WITHOUT HONOUR?
Even today, members of the senate in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen do not accept official honours. The idea is to avoid being bound in any way to the institution that issues the honour.
A GREEN LIGHT FOR ECO-POLITICS
In 1979, members of the Bremer Grüne Liste made a major breakthrough when they became the first green party in Germany to win seats in a regional parliament, achieving 5.14 per cent of the Bremen vote. French-born Delphine Brox, who held German citizenship, was one of the four appointed representatives and also the first foreigner to sit in a German regional assembly.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
According to a survey carried out by the German Federal Statistical Office in 2004, Bremen has the third highest concentration of millionaires in Germany, with 14.9 for every 100,000 residents. Only Hamburg (23.5) and Bavaria
(16.3) have more.
FRIENDS ALL OVER THE WORLD
Bremen maintains active partnerships with a host of international cities, including Gdansk (Poland), Riga (Latvia), Haifa (Israel), Dalian (China), Durban (South Africa) and Izmir (Turkey). These links allow students
from the two respective countries to spend semesters studying abroad and foster many other forms of cultural exchange.
CALL OF THE MOUNTAINS
Bremen is not exactly known for its mountainous terrain, and the Alps are at the other end of Germany. But despite this, Bremen manages to support a thriving mountaineering club with 3,400 members. These fans of alpine pursuits even have their very own ‘Bremen hut’ in Austria where they can relax after a walk or climb.
COME ON YOU GREENS!
Green and white are the colours of the city’s football team Werder Bremen, and the club’s home stadium also has green credentials. The exterior shell is completely coated by photovoltaic cells that produce up to 840,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year – a first for a German stadium. Fans can also travel to the games by ferry, arriving right outside the arena at a special landing stage – something else that’s unique to professional German football.
TRADITIONAL MEETS MODERN
One of Europe’s biggest urban regeneration projects is currently under way in the old docks in west Bremen. A brand new city quarter is taking shape here, combining traditional dockland architecture with modern residential and office space right beside the water. Its name is Überseestadt, and it’s also home to
Bremen’s tallest office building, the 82-metre Weser Tower.
ONCE A BREMER, ALWAYS A BREMER
In a survey conducted by market research company Ipsos, 96 per cent of people said they “enjoy living in Bremen” – an impressively high figure for a big city. And 89 per cent of residents who were polled by Forsa felt their life in the Hanseatic city was either not very stressful or not at all stressful.
The people of Bremen are world champions in understatement. Showing off just isn’t the done thing here. Locals talk about a Hanseatic restraint that can be traced back to the high proportion of well-to-do individuals living in the three Hanseatic cities of Hamburg, Lübeck and Bremen.
GOLD STANDARD IN GREEN ENERGY
In 2011, Bremen received the European Energy Award in Gold in recognition of its commitment to the environment and its eco-friendly energy policy. The award is part of an EU initiative involving around 770 local authorities in eleven countries. Bremen scored particularly highly, according to the panel of judges, in the categories of transport policy and communication.