The town of Frankfurt received its charter in 1253 at the Brandendamm, although the settlement is probably considerably older. The early settlers lived on the western banks of the Oder; later the town was extended to the eastern bank (today's Słubice). In the late Middle Ages, the town dominated the river trade between Breslau (Wrocław) and Stettin (Szczecin). In 1430, Frankfurt joined the Hanseatic League, but was a member for only a short time.
In April 1631, during the Thirty Years' War, Frankfurt was the site of the Battle of Frankfurt an der Oder between the Swedish Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. After a two-day siege, Swedish forces, supported by Scottish auxiliaries, stormed the town. The result was a Swedish victory.
The city was briefly occupied by the Russian Imperial Army during the Seven Years' War, in August 1759, in the prelude to the battle of Kunersdorf.
With the dissolution of the Margraviate of Brandenburg during the Napoleonic Wars, Frankfurt became part of the Province of Brandenburg in 1815. In the 19th century, Frankfurt played an important role in trade. Centrally positioned in the Kingdom of Prussia between Berlin and Posen (Poznań), on the river Oder with its heavy traffic, the town housed the second-largest annual trade fair (Messe) of the German Reich, surpassed only by that in Leipzig.
There was no fighting for the town in 1945 during World War II even though the town was declared a fortress (Festung) in an attempt to block the Red Army's route to Berlin. The nearly empty town was burned down. The postwar German-Polish border ran along the Oder, separating the Dammvorstadt on the eastern bank - which became the Polish town of Słubice - from the rest of Frankfurt. While part of communist East Germany, Frankfurt was administered within Bezirk Frankfurt (Oder). It became part of the reconstituted state of Brandenburg with German reunification in 1990.
Today, Frankfurt and Słubice have friendly relations and run several common projects and facilities. Poland joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and implemented the Schengen Agreement on December 21, 2007 leading to the removal of permanent border controls.
In the post-communist era, Frankfurt has suffered from high unemployment and low economic growth. Its population has fallen significantly from around 87,000 at the time of German reunification in 1990.
FC Viktoria Frankfurt is the town's local football team.
In March 2008, the Jewish community of Frankfurt celebrated its first Torah dedication since the Holocaust. The procession of the new Torah scroll began from the spot where the town's Frankfurter Synagogue stood prior to World War II, 500 meters from Germany's current border with Poland. Celebrants marched with the scroll into the town's Chabad-Lubavitch centre, where they danced with the Torah, which had been donated by members of the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Berlin.
The Margraviate of Brandenburg's first university was Frankfurt's Alma Mater Viadrina, founded in 1506 by Joachim I Nestor, Elector of Brandenburg. An early chancellor, Bishop Georg von Blumenthal (1490–1550), was a notable opponent of the Protestant Reformation, as he remained a Catholic. Frankfurt also trained the noted archbishop Albert of Brandenburg around 1510, who also became a vocal opponent of the Reformation. The university was closed in 1811, and its assets divided between two new universities founded under King Frederick William III: Frederick William University of Berlin, presently Humboldt University; and Silesian Frederick William University in Breslau, presently the University of Wrocław.
The university was refounded in 1991 with a European emphasis as the Viadrina European University, in close cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań; they jointly run the Collegium Polonicum in Słubice.
Frankfurt (Oder), being located on the border to Poland, plays a special role in connection with German-Polish relations and European integration. The European University Viadrina has one of its buildings in Poland, in the neighbouring town of Słubice. The university also has a number of projects and initiatives dedicated to bringing Poland and Germany together, and offers its students pro bono Polish courses. Another project that contributes to German-Polish integration in Frankfurt (Oder) is the Fforst House, a German-Polish student project, which has been granted support by the town's administration and by the Viadrina, having been described by the former president of the university, Gesine Schwan, as the place where "Europe begins".
Frankfurt (Oder) is twinned with:
In recent years, Frankfurt has been the setting for several notable German films:Halbe Treppe (Grill Point, 2002)
Lichter (Distant Lights, 2003)
Die Kinder sind tot (The Children Are Dead, a documentary about a 1999 murder-by-neglect in Frankfurt, 2004)
No Exit (2004, documentary about Neo-Nazis)
Kombat Sechzehn (Combat Sixteen, 2005)