Krefeld is also called the "Velvet and Silk City".
The town originated in Roman times when the legions founded the military camp of Gelduba (today the borough of Gellep). Records first mention Krefeld itself in 1105 under the name of Krinvelde. Uerdingen, originally an independent town east of Krefeld, founded in 1255, became in medieval times larger and more important than Krefeld.
In February 1598, Walburga, wife of Adolf van Nieuwenaar, and last Countess of Limburg and Moers, gifted the County of Moers, which included Krefeld, to Maurice, Prince of Orange. After her death in 1600, John William of Cleves took possession of these lands, but Maurice successfully defended his heritage in 1601. Krefeld and Moers would remain under the jurisdiction of the House of Orange and the Dutch Republic during the Dutch Golden Age. The growth of the town began in that century, partially because Krefeld was one of few towns spared the horrors of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). The town of Uerdingen, incorporated into Krefeld in the 20th century, was less fortunate, almost ceasing to exist, destroyed at the hands of troops from Hesse during the Thirty Years' War. In 1683 a group of thirteen Mennonite families left Krefeld to re-settle in Pennsylvania in order to enjoy religious freedom. They crossed the Atlantic on the ship Concord, and founded the settlement of Germantown (now incorporated in Philadelphia), thus beginning the Pennsylvania Dutch ethnic identity.
After the death of William III of Orange in 1702, Krefeld passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. The Battle of Krefeld occurred nearby in 1758 during the Seven Years' War. Krefeld and Uerdingen were included within the Prussian Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg in 1815 (after 1822 the Rhine Province). In 1872 Krefeld became an independent city within Rhenish Prussia. In 1918 during the First World Warthe Belgian Army used it as a base during the occupation of the Rhineland.
In 1929 Krefeld and Uerdingen merged to form Krefeld-Uerdingen; in 1940 the name was shortened to simply Krefeld.
On December 11, 1941, during World War II, a detailed report on the transport of Jews from Krefeld and its surroundings listed 1007 Jews from Krefeld and Duisburg, were deported to the Šķirotava Railway Station near Riga, later to become Jungfernhof concentration camp. They were transported in freezing conditions with no drinking-water for more than two days. Almost immediately upon arrival these Jews were shot in the Rumbula forest massacre.
On 21 June 1943 British bombs destroyed large parts of east of the city; a firestorm consumed most of the city center (apart from the central train station, which remained intact apart from minor damage). On 3 March 1945 US troops entered Krefeld, among them the later U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The town became part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia after World War II.
Jews were listed as citizens of Krefeld from 1617. In 1764 a synagogue was erected, and by 1812, under French rule, the town included 196 Jewish families, with three Jewish-owned banks. Under Napoleon, the town became the capital for the surrounding Jewish communities including over 5000 Jews, and by 1897 they comprised 1.8% of the population. In 1846 a Jewish representative was voted onto the town's municipal council, while rising antisemitism was noted during these elections. A reform synagogue was built in 1876, arousing opposition from the Orthodox community. A Jewish school existed in the town, with more than 200 students around 1900.
In November 1938 during Kristallnacht, the two synagogues were attacked. In 1941 following an order from Hitler to deport the German Jews to the east, Jews from the town were sent to the area around Riga and murdered there. In 1945, the U.S. Army occupied the city and placed Henry Kissinger, then an Army private and later Secretary of State of the United States, in charge of the city administration.
In 2008 a new synagogue, library and Jewish cultural center were erected on the location of one of the demolished synagogues. Around 1100 Jews were reported to live in and around Krefeld at the time.Castle of Linn (German)
Botanischer Garten Krefeld, a municipal botanical garden
Lange and Esters Houses, neighbouring houses by early Mies van der Rohe, now serving as local contemporary art museum venues
Kaiser Wilhelm Museum, contemporary art museum
Galopprennbahn Krefeld, horse racing track
There are a number of districts in Krefeld. Each has a municipal representative, with representatives chosen by local elections. The districts are:
Cities and places that were incorporated into Krefeld:1901: Linn (Stadtrecht since 1314)
1907: Bockum, Verberg und Oppum (all mayoralty Bockum)
Krefeld became an independent city
Uerdingen, Krefeld (received municipal law in 1255/1344, added Hohenbudberg in today's Duisburg district Friemersheim)
Fischeln, Krefeld district
Traar, Krefeld district
Gellep and Stratum (in Lank), Krefeld district
Forstwald (Vorst), Krefeld district
Benrad und Hülserberg (Hüls), Kempen
1975: Locality of Hüls from Kempen (since 1970 integrated and belonged since 1929 to the Kempen-Krefeld district; in 1936 Orbroich had been independent)
¹ Census data
Largest migrant communities in Krefeld are :1848–1872: Ludwig Heinrich Ondereyck
1872–1881: Friedrich Christian Roos
1882–1903: Ernst Küper
1903–1905: Wilhelm Hammerschmidt
1905–1911: Adalbert Oehler
1911–1930: Johannes Johansen
1945–1946: Johannes Stepkes
1946–1947: Wilhelm Warsch
1947–1949: Hermann Passen
1949–1951: Hanns Müller (FDP)
1951–1956: Johannes Hauser (CDU)
1956–1961: Josef Hellenbrock (SPD)
1961–1968: Herbert van Hüllen (CDU)
1968–1982: Hansheinz Hauser (CDU)
1982–1989: Dieter Pützhofen, first term in office (CDU)
1989–1994: Willi Wahl (SPD)
1994–2004: Dieter Pützhofen, second term in office (CDU)
2004–2015: Gregor Kathstede (CDU)
2015–present: Frank Meyer (SPD)
1946–1949: Johan Stepkes
1949–1964: Bernhard Heun
1964–1986: Hermann Steffens
1986–1988: Alfred Dahlmann
1988–1999: Heinz-Josef Vogt
Krefeld is connected to the Deutsche Bahn network with several stations, including its main station, Krefeld Hauptbahnhof. They are served by Intercity, Regional-Express and Regionalbahn trains. The Düsseldorf-based Rheinbahn operates a Stadtbahn service to the centrally located Rheinstraße stop. This line was the first electric inter-city rail line in Europe, established in 1898, and commonly called the K-Bahn because of the letter "K" used to denote the trains to Krefeld. Nowadays, in the VRR notation, it is called U76, with the morning and afternoon express trains numbered as U70, the line number there coloured red instead of the usual blue used for U-Bahn lines. The term K-Bahn, however, prevails in common usage.
The city of Krefeld itself operates four tramway and several bus lines under the umbrella of SWK MOBIL, a city-owned company. Since 2010, 19 of the oldest trams of the type DUEWAG GT8 were replaced by modern barrier-free trams of the type Bombardier Flexity Outlook. SWK Mobil owns an option to buy another 19 trams of the same type to replace the last 19 DUEWAG M8 trams. The whole tram fleet will then be barrier-free. Next to that the city plans to extend the line 044 in Krefeld-Hüls to connect the northern district of Hüls with the Krefeld downtown area.
The headquarters of Fressnapf, a pet food retailer franchise company, are situated in Krefeld.
Since 1964, the city has hosted an "honors program in foreign language (German) studies" for high school students from Indiana, United States. The program annually places approximately thirty carefully selected high school juniors with families in and around Krefeld for intensive German language training. Since 1973, the fire services of Krefeld and twin city Leicester have played each other in an annual 'friendly' football match.
Krefeld is twinned with:
Scientists:Charlotte Auerbach (1899–1994), genetic scientist, born here
Rudi Dornbusch (1 December, 8 June 1942 – 25 July 2002), economist
Max Zorn (6 June 1906 – 9 March 1993 in Bloomington, Indiana), mathematician
Leopold Löwenheim, (1878–1957), German logician
Writers, poets and journalists:Bernhard Hennen (born in 1966), German best-seller writer of fantasy literature
Kurt Feltz (14 April 1910 – 3 August 1982 in Majorca), poet
Werner Ross (1912 in Uerdingen – 2002), German writer
Otto Brües (1 May 1897 – 18 April 1967), journalist
Margarethe Schreinemakers (1958), German television presenter and journalist
Musicians:Silent Force, prog/classical "epic" rock band
Blind Guardian, popular German heavy metal band
Saki Kaskas, video game music composer
Everon, German progressive metal band
Ralf Hütter (20 August 1946), lead singer of electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk
Aquagen, popular German trance and eurodance artists
Heinrich Band (1821–1860)
Andrea Berg, (born 1966), popular German singer
Cosmic Gate, popular German trance duo
Artists:Joseph Beuys (12 May 1921 – 1986), artist
Heinrich Campendonk (3 November 1889 – 9 May 1957 in Amsterdam)
Albert Oehlen, artist
Markus Oehlen, artist
Marc Margielsky, artist
Aviators:Felix Kracht (1912–2002), aerospace engineer, an Airbus pioneer and former Senior Vice President
Werner Voss (13 April 1897 – 23 September 1917), German World War I aviator
Emil Schäfer (17 December 1891 – 5 June 1917), German World War I aviator
Athletes:Martin Hyun, German and U.S. hockey player
Frank Schwinghammer, a German and Canadian hockey player
Philip Hindes, a British sprint cyclist
Knights Cross Holder:Heinz Harmel
Other:Carl Josef Kleingrothe (1864–1925), photographer in Medan, Sumatra.
Thierry Hermès, German-born French businessman and founder of Hermès (1801–1878)