The City of Freiburg in Breisgau and its partners throughout the world

Dear Twin Towns, Friends and Guests, Citizens of Freiburg,

“Twinnings are capital whose interest is friendship and understanding” – thus did a large German newspaper describe the essence of partnerships between cities many years ago. That motto is valid to this day. Even in an age when rapid means of transport and modern communication have made communication easier, and decreased distances to countries that were once far away, twinnings are indispensable. They are an eminent part of the “local foreign policy” of the city hall.

After World War II, many city twinnings were installed as a way towards understanding and peaceful collaboration among neighbours. One generation back, many of them had been at war with each other. At the same time, connections between cities were important tools in the construction of a communal European house. This was the intention guiding the foundation of Freiburg’s first twinnings – with Besançon in France, Innsbruck in Austria, Padua in Italy, Guildford in England, and later with Granada in Spain. Thus, one shared aspect of history abides among Freiburg and its twin cities on the European continent: all were once part of the Habsburg Empire.

A generation later, Freiburg cast its gaze beyond the borders of Europe. In the late 1980s, the city almost simultaneously entered twinships with Madison in the USA and Lviv in the Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. These agreements were meant as a contribution to the East-West détente at the local level, and as a step toward peaceful international cooperation. Similarly, the friendship agreements with Matsuyama in Japan and with Isfahan in Iran were initiated with the aim of cultivating communication among people of different cultures and religions in a globalising world. The founders wanted to enable a process of getting to know each other.

For a long time there has been a tight network of civil connections between Freiburg and its twin cities, which grew from the official contacts among political representatives. It is being sustained and perpetuated by clubs, youth groups, athletes, cultural institutions, trade organizations and many others. They are helping people from different countries to get to know each other, to abolish prejudices, and have enabled the beginnings of countless personal friendships. From these contacts, economic relations as well as cooperatives among city administrations and cultural groups have sprung. To this day, that is the paramount goal of our city twinnings.

Freiburg’s friendship with the city of Wiwili in Nicaragua illustrates the aim of its “local foreign policy” exceptionally well. At the foreground of this cooperation, there is humanitarian aid in the areas of public health, education and the development of economic subsistence through agriculture. These connections, which sprang from private initiative, have led to friendly exchange among the two cities.

This brochure aims to provide you with information about Freiburg’s network of twinnings and friendships with other cities throughout the world, and also about the cooperation with the other cities that were founded by the Dukes of Zähringen more than a millennium ago in Germany and Switzerland. With this book we mean to encourage you to discover our partner cities for yourselves. Each of Freiburg’s nine twin cities is a piece of home to any Freiburger. I invite you to acquaint yourselves with them, and in so doing to increase the “interest” of the “capital” of our municipal partnerships.

Dr. Dieter Salomon
Mayor of the City of Freiburg