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Middle Ages


The region of the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

 had already been settled by the start of the New Stone Age about 4,000 years ago. The Soltau area was initially occupied by a few individual farms. The parish of Soltau was probably founded around 830 and the first wooden church Sante Johannis Baptista (St. John the Baptist) was built.

The first written record of Soltau was in the year 936 as Curtis Salta ("farm on the salt river"). King
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

 Otto the Great
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

 granted the estate from the time of the Carolingian dynasty to Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of Henry the Fowler, as his memorial...

. Within a span of almost 600 years the village of Soltouwe emerged from Curtis Salta. It was located in the area between St. John's Church and the Waldmühle mill.

In 1304 the Vogtei
Vogtei
Vogtei could be:* The residenz or domain of a Vogt* Vogtei , a municipal association in the Unstrut-Hainich district of Thuringia, Germany....

of Soltau was sold to the cathedral chapter
Cathedral chapter
In accordance with canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese in his stead. These councils are made up of canons and dignitaries; in the Roman Catholic church their...

 of Verden. Between 1383 and 1388 the village was established by order of the Duke as protection against robber barons at the confluence of the rivers Böhme and Soltau near Hagen and Burg, which today is in the town centre. Subsequently it was decided to demolish the castle there as part of the peace treaty at the end of the Lüneburg War of Succession
Lüneburg War of Succession
The Lüneburg War of Succession was a conflict that broke out in 1370 in north Germany and lasted, with interruptions, for 18 years. The war was over the line of succession to the Principality of Lüneburg...

; at the same time Soltau was given town rights on 15 July 1388 by way of compensation. In 1400 the letter patent for the guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 was issued, which entitled the town to trade. In 1440 another letter patent was specifically conferred on blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

s, tailor
Tailor
A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers,...

s, cobblers, linen and cloth-makers.

The consequences of the war of succession in Soltau can clearly be traced and prevented the rapid growth of the new town; conditions were miserable and many farms were ruined. Moreover, Soltau was a long way from the centres of power, so did not receive much direct support and there were no local lords who felt an association with it.

In 1479 Soltau became part of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and an Amtsvogtei
Vogt
A Vogt ; plural Vögte; Dutch voogd; Danish foged; ; ultimately from Latin [ad]vocatus) in the Holy Roman Empire was the German title of a reeve or advocate, an overlord exerting guardianship or military protection as well as secular justice...

was established. In 1511 the town was totally destroyed by fire.

The last known cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 battle took place in June 1519 ont the 'Wiehe Holt' near Soltau and is known as the Battle of Soltau
Battle of Soltau
The Battle of Soltau took place on 28 June 1519 and was the military climax of the Hildesheim Diocesan Feud which lasted from 1519–1523. Some sources describe it as "the last knights' battle" ....

, which represented the high point of the Hildesheim Abbey Feud. According to long tradition it was only thanks to a ruse by the Soltau townsman, Harm Tyding, who pretended to the advancing Brunswick troops that he knew the whereabouts of a large Lüneburg army and led them on a detour, that the town was not destroyed again.

The Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 saw little conflict in Soltau as a result of the firm stand taken by the Lüneburg duke, Ernest I
Ernest I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg , also frequently called Ernest the Confessor, was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and a champion of the protestant cause during the early years of the Protestant Reformation...

 and his commitment to introducing the Evangelical-Lutheran faith in 1527.

Modern era


In 1533 the town hall was established in an old chapel in Marktstraße. In 1567 another great fire destroyed large parts of the town. In 1588 the first school building was erected, although the first records of school teaching go back to as early as 1563. The plague raged in 1626 and the population dwindled dramatically. Before 1620 there were several years of legal disputes about the acquisition of building land outside the town wall.

In the Thirty Years War Soltau was once again entirely destroyed. All that remained was a great ruin in the landscape and only one building from that time remains. The impact of the war was devastating and it was a long time before the town recovered from its consequences. The traces of the war and the area's occupation by Swedish troops, which began in 1632, is still documented today by the Ellinger Grenzstein ("Ellingen Boundary Stone").

Market rights
Market town
Market town or market right is a legal term, originating in the medieval period, for a European settlement that has the right to host markets, distinguishing it from a village and city...

 and therefore the right to host two fairs a year and a horse market were conferred in 1668. The Old Town Chemist's (Alte Stadtapotheke) was opened in 1796, the first chemist
Chemist
A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms...

 in Soltau.

Soltau first became a garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 town in 1712, a year when the first cloth factory was built.
Napoleonic troops occupied the town in 1803 and turned it into a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 border town for the Kingdom of Westphalia
Kingdom of Westphalia
The Kingdom of Westphalia was a new country of 2.6 million Germans that existed from 1807-1813. It included of territory in Hesse and other parts of present-day Germany. While formally independent, it was a vassal state of the First French Empire, ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte...

 in 1810. Soltau belonged to the Canton of Harburg in the Department of Bouches-de-l'Elbe
Bouches-de-l'Elbe
Bouches-de-l'Elbe is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Germany that survived three years. It is named after the mouth of the river Elbe...

. In 1813 the Lützow infantry
Lützow Free Corps
Lützow Free Corps was a voluntary force of the Prussian army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was named after its commander, Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow. They were also widely known as "Lützower Jäger" or "Schwarze Jäger" .-Origins:...

 and cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

s ended ten years of occupation. In 1826 the Old Town Hall (Alte Rathaus) was built on Poststraße.

In 1873 the first railway through Soltau was opened, the line which linked Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. It was followed in 1901 by the Heath Railway
Heath Railway
The Heath Railway is a regional railway line in North Germany that crosses the Lüneburg Heath from which it derives its name. Most of the line is unelectrified and single-tracked. It links Buchholz in der Nordheide with Hanover, the capital city of Lower Saxony...

 between Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 and, in 1912, the lines of the East Hanoverian Railways to Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

 and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. In 1885 Soltau became a county town
County town
A county town is a county's administrative centre in the United Kingdom or Ireland. County towns are usually the location of administrative or judicial functions, or established over time as the de facto main town of a county. The concept of a county town eventually became detached from its...

 (Kreisstadt). In 1896 the gas works was built and, two years later, the gymnasium and shooting hall.

On Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

 1906 a fire destroyed St. John's Church which had been mentioned in the records since 1464. It was then rebuilt and is still standing today. In 1911 the Lutheran Church was consecrated, the second Protestant church to be founded, and in 1915 the Catholic Church of St. Mary's followed. A royal officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 riding school was founded in 1913.

Soltau Camp (Lager Soltau), the largest German prisoner-of-war camp
Prisoner-of-war camp
A prisoner-of-war camp is a site for the containment of combatants captured by their enemy in time of war, and is similar to an internment camp which is used for civilian populations. A prisoner of war is generally a soldier, sailor, or airman who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or...

 of the First World War was built in 1914. In the same year the mining of potassium salts (Kalisalz) began at the Heinrichssegen Shaft; it had to be halted ony 4 years later as a result of the war having reached a depth of just 6 metres. From 1934 several Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 units were quartered at Wolterdingen Camp (Lager Wolterdingen) and after the end of the Second World War it was used to house refugees and forced labourers until about 1960. From time to time the front
Front (military)
A military front or battlefront is a contested armed frontier between opposing forces. This can be a local or tactical front, or it can range to a theater...

 reached Soltau. In April 1945, the town was partly destroyed by air raids, in which there were many more civilian victims than military.

That same month, prisoners from concentration camps were able to escape from a railway train that had been stopped in Soltau as the result of an air attack. The prisoners were hunted down by members of the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, SS and Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

, with the help of several townsfolk, and 92 of them were shot dead. A few townspeople, by contrast, risked their own lives by providing the escapees with food and clothing.
The post-war trials of those who took part ended in acquittals due to the lack of evidence.

Consequently all that could be recorded were several confirmed killings, but not murders.
Since the beginning of 2005 there have been discussions about a memorial
Memorial
A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for memory of something, usually a person or an event. Popular forms of memorials include landmark objects or art objects such as sculptures, statues or fountains, and even entire parks....

 of eight representative stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

s from the Berlin Holocaust Memorial for "all victims of the Nazi dictatorship". However an internet survey by the newspaper, the Böhme-Zeitung showed that a majority of those who responded were against the memorial. This caused a furore nationally and gave those in favour of a memorial reason to accuse the opponents of having Nazi sentiments. Nevertheless plans to erect the monument in central locations such as immediately in front of the station could not be carried out. This monument appeared from autumn 2006 to March 2007 in the vicinity of the remote site of the killings in the forest of Sibirien (today a hospital stands on the exact spot). The massive opposition from long-time residents of Soltau is frequently put down by them to the lack of commemoration of the many civilian and military victims from their own ranks, because they are not obviously included in the memorial.

Present


In 1949 Soltau became a British garrison during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and home of Headquarters 7th Armoured Brigade. They were based at the former SS Riding School on the outskirts of town (Reitschule).
The base was the home of 207 Signal Squadron and 11 Ordnance Company. It was the most northerly posting for any British serviceman in BAOR (British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

), excluding minor outposts like Dannenberg
Dannenberg (Elbe)
Dannenberg is a town in the district Lüchow-Dannenberg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated near the river Elbe, approx. 30 km north of Salzwedel, and 50 km south-east of Lüneburg...

, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

, in what was known as West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

. Armoured vehicles were regularly seen on the streets on their way to the military training area at Lüneburg and the HQ was responsible for the nearby Soltau-Lüneburg Training Area and its associated hutted camp at Reinsehlen. The signal squadron had three troops, two of which were armoured, using variants of the FV432
FV432
The FV432 is the armoured personnel carrier variant of the British Army's FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Since its introduction in the 1960s it has been the most common variant, being used for transporting infantry on the battlefield...

 for telecommunication purposes. The soldiers were given the freedom of the town after returning from the first Gulf War in 1991. They marched through the town to mark the occasion.

The site of the British barracks was the first in Germany to be turned over to private hands in 1993, one year after the withdrawal of British troops. Today the old barracks is a business centre, used for doctors' practices and social institutions. It is also home to the Alte Reithalle ("Old Riding Hall") Event Centre which has become an important indoor event location after its finished restoration in 2003.

In 1972 Soltau became an state-recognised resort and in 1987 was designate as a 'state-recognised town with brine cure facilities'. In the administrative reforms of 1974 16 surrounding villages were incorporated into a new borough. In 1977 the districts of Soltau and Fallingbostel merged into the district of Soltau-Fallingbostel
Soltau-Fallingbostel
Heidekreis is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Harburg, Lüneburg, Uelzen, Celle, Hanover, Nienburg, Verden and Rotenburg.-History:...

; Soltau lost its status as the district HQ.

The Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 was opened in 1978; today it is the largest amusement park
Amusement park
thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

 in North Germany, in which inter alia in 2001 it opened the Colossos
Colossos (roller coaster)
Colossos is a wooden roller coaster at Heide Park in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the first wooden roller coaster to use prefabricated track. Colossos is the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Europe and the tallest running wooden roller coaster in the world...

, then the largest and steepest wooden roller coaster
Roller coaster
The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride developed for amusement parks and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first coasters on January 20, 1885...

 in the world, and, in 2003, the Scream
Scream (Soltau)
thumb|uprightThe Gyro-Drop Tower Scream is an amusement ride in the Heide Park, Soltau, Germany. With a height of to the pinnacle it is the tallest "gyro drop" free-fall ride in the world....

, the highest drop tower in the world. In 2007 followed the Desert Race ride. Other tourist attractions include the Soltau Thermal Baths in 1990 and the North German Toy Museum
North German Toy Museum
The Soltau Toy Museum , formerly the North German Toy Museum in Soltau originated from a private collection. It was founded in 1984 by Hannelore Ernst....

 in 1994.
In 1988 the Showpalast ("Show Palace") was founded at the Soltau secondary modern school
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

 (Hauptschule); it remains Germany's only schoolchildren's cabaret and has already put on numerous performances at fairs and on television.

In 1998 a retail park
Retail park
In the United Kingdom, a retail park is a grouping of many retail warehouses and superstores with associated car parking. Its North American equivalent is a power centre. Retail parks are found on the fringes of most large towns and cities in highly accessible locations and are aimed at households...

 opened in the Alm industrial estate. From 1996 there were discussions in Soltau about the construction of a 10,000 m² outlet store
Outlet store
An outlet store or factory outlet is a brick and mortar or online retail store in which manufacturers sell their stock directly to the public. Traditionally, a factory outlet was a store attached to a factory or warehouse, sometimes allowing customers to watch the production process like in the...

. The town failed several times in the courts, the last time in 2006 at the Federal Administrative Court of Germany
Federal Administrative Court of Germany
The Federal Administrative Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for generally all cases of administrative law, mainly disputes between citizens and the state...

. Protests were led by the surrounding towns of Verden, Rotenburg and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. In 2006 proceedings were begun to obtain permission to deviate from a planning objective which would enable the construction of an outlet centre in spite of the latest rejection. With a change to the state regional development programme in 2008 the establishment of a factory outlet centre in the tourist region of the Lüneburg Heath was finally granted. For the purposes of the town of Soltau, the town of Bad Fallingbostel
Bad Fallingbostel
Bad Fallingbostel is the district town of the Heidekreis district in the German state of Lower Saxony. Since 1976 the town has had a state-recognised Kneipp spa and has held the title of Bad since 5 August 2002. It has close ties to Walsrode, a few miles to the west...

 and the parish of Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 regional proceedings were begun. In February 2009 this process was concluded by the supreme state planning department (State Ministry of Economics) producing a positive outcome for Soltau and a negative one for its two competitors. Construction is due to start in 2010 despite Bispingen launching an appeal. It is due to open in spring 2012.

On 20 October 2004 an earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 shook the region. It had a strength 4.5 on the Richter Scale and its epicentre was in Neuenkirchen. There had been a previous earthquake of strength 4 with an epicentre in Soltau on 2 June 1977.

In 2006 the German Children's Society (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) in Soltau and its town marketing project Soltau Playground (spielraum SOLTAU), which intended to launch numerous initiatives to promote the image of Soltau as a child- and family-friendly town, was voted as the model community for the project "Play! Space is everywhere." (Spiel! Platz ist überall).

In March 2007 a concept for the transformation of the town centre was proposed. The Schaper Market, which had been built in the 1970s and lain empty since 2004, a footbridge (locally called the Fenner-Kringel) and a multi-storey car park were demolished in 2008 and the theatre moved to Hagen, so that a new building could be built with a total sales floor of about 4,000 m². The new shopping centre was opened in March 2009.

Population growth



The oldest list of townsfolk in the town book of 1452 enumerates 42 households in Soltau, this represents a good 200 inhabitants based on the conditions of the time. Around 1600 there were about 100 households in Soltau, this corresponds to some 500 inhabitants who lived in about 70 houses. The black death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 raged in 1626 and caused the population to plummet dramatically. After that, the number of inhabitants rose slowly at first; accelerating from 1940. The large increase in 1974 is due to the regional reform and the incorporation of 16 surrounding villages. Following a short drop in the numbers the population grew again in the 1990s and reached its maximum in 2005 at 22,044. According to internal censuses the town has even greater numbers, e.g. in 2001 23,508, but this is mainly due to the inclusion of those with second home
Vacation property
Vacation property is a niche in the real estate market dealing with residences used for holiday vacations . In the United Kingdom this type of property is usually termed a holiday home, in Australia, a holiday house/home, or weekender, in New Zealand, a bach or crib...

s. Since then the numbers have dropped slowly. This trend should stop in the next few years according to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation
Bertelsmann Foundation
The Bertelsmann Foundation is the largest private operating non-profit foundation in Germany, created in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn. The Bertelsmann Foundation holds 77.4 percent of Bertelsmann AG....

. For 2025 the study forecast a population of 21,614.
class="prettytable"> Year Population
1452 ca. 220
1600 ca. 500
1626 ca. 60
3 December 1864 ¹ 2,000
1 December 1890 ¹ 3,419
2 December 1895 ¹ 4,025
1 December 1905 ¹ 4,861
16 June 1925 ¹ 5,723
16 June 1933 ¹ 6,746
17 May 1939 ¹ 8,318
13 September 1950 ¹ 14,560
1 October 1960 14,483
class="prettytable"> Year Population 30 June 1970 15,519 31 December 1972 15,873 31 December 1974 20,189 31 December 1980 18,921 31 December 1985 18,940 31 December 1990 19,714 31 December 1991 20,031 31 December 1995 21,040 31 December 2000 21,906 31 December 2005 22,044 31 December 2007 21,950 31 December 2008 21,831
¹ Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 censuses

Culture and places of interest



Churches



There is a number of churches worth seeing in Soltau. These include St. John's, which was first mentioned in 1464. The Lutheran Church was the second Protestant church to be built in Soltau (in 1911) after St. John's had burnt down in 1906 and only a small replacement was built. Other religious buildings are the Catholic St. Mary's Church built in 1915, the Holy Spirit Church in Wolterdingen as an old Gothic heath church dating to 1245, the Heidenhof Chapel built in 1349 and the Zion Church of the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
The Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church is a confessional Lutheran church body of Germany. It is a member of the European Lutheran Conference and a member of the International Lutheran Council . The SELK synod has about 36,000 members in 200 congregations...

 built in 1888.


Museums and leisure facilities



Opposite the equally attractive Old Town Hall in the centre of the town is the building housing the North German Toy Museum
North German Toy Museum
The Soltau Toy Museum , formerly the North German Toy Museum in Soltau originated from a private collection. It was founded in 1984 by Hannelore Ernst....

 with 600 m² of exhibition floor and the Soltau Museum. The latter traces the history of Soltau up to 200,000 ago.

In the surrounding region, the Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 amusement park is very well known. Other facilities are the Soltau Thermal Springs (Soltau-Therme) and the Hof Loh golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

.

Other sights are the Hagen with its drawbridge and the so-called Marriage Well (Heiratsbrunnen), which was built in 1978 by Karlheinz Goedtke, the Waldmühle Library and the Ratsmühle.

Parks, nature reserves and cemeteries


Near the centre of town is the Breidingsgarten, a landscaped park that is under heritage protection. It was laid out around 1850 along English lines and has an area of 11 hectares (27.2 acre). Within the garden, next to a villa built in the Italian style is a ruined building, an old farmstead and fish and ornamental ponds. It is currently in private hands but may still be visited.
Other open spaces in the town include the Böhme Park and the Röders' Park am Halifax. Nearby recreation areas are the Wacholder Park, an area of heath with a sheep shed, the Ahlftener Flatt, a lake from the last ice age, which is popular for ice skating in winter, and the Kuhbach Forest. Around Soltau there are various woods belonging to the Soltau Abbey Forest (Klosterforst) covering a total of 14500 hectares (35,830.2 acre) which is managed by the Soltau Abbey Forestry Department.

In Soltau's vicinity are several nature reserves: the Böhmetal bei Huckenrieth, Ehbläcksmoor and the Schwarzes Moor near Dannhorn.

Soltau has two cemeteries, the town cemetery and the forest cemetery. There are also the ruins of a Jewish cemetery
Jewish cemetery
A Jewish cemetery is a cemetery where members of the Jewish faith are buried in keeping with Jewish tradition....

 in which people were interred from 1721 to 1926.

Culture


The Soltau Cultural Society and the Culture Initiative organise readings and concerts in the town on the Böhme river. Since 2008 the cultural week Zwischenspiel - Das Zelt has taken place annually, with readings, concerts, cabaret and theatre performances in a circus tent. There are also events by the Soltauer Gespräche ("Soltau Talks") and the Soltau Artists House that has admitted writers, painters or musicians since 1995. The Waldmühle Library takes part in the Summer Reading Club Project which is part of the Cultural Secretariat of NRW (Kultursekretariats NRW).

Sport


The oldest sports club
Sports club
A sports club or sport club, sometimes athletics club or sports association is a club for the purpose of playing one or more sports...

 in Soltau is MTV Soltau, which was founded in 1864. Today it offers 16 different activities, of which football is the largest with four men's, a women's, four girls' and 15 boys' teams of all ages.
The second oldest club is SV Soltau, founded in 1912. Here, too, the main activity is football, but there are also many other activities. In 2002 a third football club, SG Inter Soltau, was started, but it disbanded again after a few years.

The oldest tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 club is TC Blau-Weiß Soltau. Founded in 1952, it opened the first tennis courts in Soltau. There is also a second tennis club, TVC Soltau. In 1993 a table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

 club was started, TTC 93 Soltau.

Pool has been played in Soltau since 1987 at the Pool Billard Sport Club Triangel. The club plays in the highest Lower Saxon league and takes part in several German tournaments.

There is also a Schützenverein
Schützenverein
A Schützenverein is in German language countries a voluntary association featuring sport-shooting either on Olympic levels or historic weapons....

 (shooting club), the Schützengilde Soltau Stadt und Land, which held its first Schützenfest
Schützenfest
A Schützenfest is a traditional festival or fair featuring a target shooting competition in the cultures of both Germany and Switzerland....

s in the 15th century and, since 1741, has had a Schützenfest almost every year.

Soltau has another 20 or so smaller clubs offering around 30 different types of sport.

Sports facilities include an indoor and open-air swimming pool, six sports fields, eight sports halls, a riding hall
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

, a golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

, three tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 courts, four nine-pin bowling
Nine-pin bowling
Nine-pin bowling is a bowling game played primarily in Europe. European championships are held each year. Over 90,000 members are on teams in Germany, often playing in officially registered Bundeskegelbahnen to be found in almost every sizable town...

 alleys, a ten-pin bowling
Ten-pin bowling
Ten-pin bowling is a competitive sport in which a player rolls a bowling ball down a wooden or synthetic lane with the objective of scoring points by knocking down as many pins as possible.-Summary:The lane is bordered along its length by semicylindrical channels Ten-pin bowling (commonly just...

 alley, squash
Squash (sport)
Squash is a high-speed racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball...

 courts, an inline skating
Inline skating
Inline skating is a recreational sport practiced widely internationally. Inline skates typically have 2 to 5 polyurethane wheels, arranged in a single line. The in-line design allows for greater speed than roller skates and better maneuverability...

 facility, a polo field, a group of ponds for angler
Angling
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...

s and 2000 m² of indoor sports hall, the Heidewitzka.

The finals of the German water polo championships took place between 1960 and 1971 in Soltau. In addition since 2004 the Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 has been the annual venue for the canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 white water sprint
Whitewater racing
Wildwater canoeing is a competitive discipline of canoeing in which kayaks or Canadian canoes are used to negotiate a stretch of river speedily...

 as part of the Germany Cup. The Heide Park has also hosted, in April 2003, the World Wide Championship of LAN Gaming finals and in September 2006 the German qualifiers for the World Cyber Games 2006
World Cyber Games
The World Cyber Games is an international competitive video-gaming event operated by South Korean company World Cyber Games Inc., and sponsored by Samsung and Microsoft...

 in electronic sports
Electronic sports
Electronic sports comprises the competitive play of video games. Other terms include competitive gaming, professional gaming and cybersports...

 and between 1997 and 2003 the annual pole-sitting
Pole-sitting
Pole-sitting is the practice of sitting on a pole for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is often placed at the top of the pole.- History :...

 world cup.

Industry


Many industrial and trading companies have settled in Soltau.
There is a wide range of firms in the metalworking and mechanical engineering sphere including: Röders-Tec (high-speed cutting milling machines, blow moulding, pewter), G.A.Röders (die casting, injection moulding, toolmaking), Röhrs AG (plant manufacturing, industrial building, power plant services), Saxlund International (hauling engines, pumps), Nortec (mechanical engineering) and Colt International (technical building protection).
In the food industry are firms like Harry-Brot (bread, cakes and pastries) and H&S Tee Pack Service (teabag packers) and in textiles: Gebr. Röders AG (felt) and Breiding (bedsprings) (founded 1836). In addition the firm of MVG Mathé-Schmierstofftechnik makes lubricants and the Greenpeace Energy Windpark generates electricity.

Trade


Soltau is the headquarters of hagebau (purchasing cooperative for building materials, woode and tile dealers) and JAWOLL (special deals market) and a distribution centre for the firm of Deichmann (shoes).
The building industry cooperative, ZEUS, has its main headquarters in the town as do the cattle and meat merchants of Raiffeisen Viehvermarktung Zentralheide and the SLC Container Terminal with 250,000 containers for Hamburg Harbour
Hamburg Harbour
-External links:* * Port of Hamburg: Facts, figures, and outlook* * Currently under construction in the HafenCity* *...

. From 1923 to the mid-1990s the headquarters of the Edeka
EDEKA
The Edeka Group is the largest German supermarket corporation, currently holding a market share of 26%. Founded in 1898, it consists today of several cooperatives of independent supermarkets all operating under the umbrella organisation Edeka Zentrale AG & Co KG, with headquarters in Hamburg...

 Group was in Soltau; it has now moved to Minden
Minden
Minden is a town of about 83,000 inhabitants in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The town extends along both sides of the river Weser. It is the capital of the Kreis of Minden-Lübbecke, which is part of the region of Detmold. Minden is the historic political centre of the...

.

Banks


Soltau is the base for the Kreissparkasse Soltau bank and, until 2008, for the Volksbank Lüneburger Heide. When the latter merged with the Volksbank Lüneburg, the head office moved to Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. There are also branches of the Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

 and the Postbank
Deutsche Postbank
Deutsche Postbank AG is a German retail bank with headquarters in Bonn. Postbank was formed from the demerger of the postal savings division of Deutsche Bundespost in 1990. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Post in 1999, and was partially spun out on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2004...

.

Education



The first recorded school teaching took place in 1563 in the verger
Verger
A verger is a person, usually a layman, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches.-History:...

's living room. In 1588 the first school building was built by the church in Marktstraße, the first state school followed in 1844. The building in Mühlenstraße still houses the Freudenthal Primary School today. In 1894 townsfolk founded a higher private school. In 1923 a middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 was established.

Today Soltau has three primary schools (Grundschulen), a grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

 (Gymnasium) with just under 1,400 children, a middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 (Realschule), a secondary modern school
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

 (Hauptschule) and a special needs
Special needs
In the USA, special needs is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological. For instance, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International...

 school (Förderschule).
In addition the charity Lebenshilfe Soltau supports a special needs centre, a kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 for children with speech difficulties, a remedial kindergarten and a creche for early learners.
The Soltau Vocational School (Berufsbildende Schule or BBS) is a combined school with four different streams of education under one roof. There is a grammar stream specialising in economics, a technical high stream (Fachoberschule) for technology and economics, and numerous vocational courses in economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

, home economics
Home Economics
Home economics is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community...

, careworking
Homecare
British Gas HomeCare is the name for British Gas Services which operates in the United Kingdom, which was originally set up to provide maintenance for central heating and other gas appliances....

, cosmetics
Cosmetics
Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and...

, gastronomy
Gastronomy
Gastronomy is the art or science of food eating. Also, it can be defined as the study of food and culture, with a particular focus on gourmet cuisine...

, agricultural science
Agricultural science
Agricultural science is a broad multidisciplinary field that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. -Agriculture and agricultural science:The two terms are often confused...

, construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, woodwork, metalwork or hairdressing. About 2,400 schoolchildren attend.

The adult education centre (Volkshochschule) Heidekreis is based in Soltau and Walsrode
Walsrode
-Middle Ages:986 Foundation of Walsrode Abbey by Count Walo. The first recorded mentionof the town is dated May 7, 986.1383 The dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg grant Walsrode a town charter.1479 First recorded instance of Walsrode's coat of arms...

 and currently offers about 930 courses.

The Waldmühle Library is the largest in the district. The Heidekreis music school
Music school
The term music school refers to an educational institution specialized in the study, training and research of music.Different terms refer to this concept such as school of music, music academy, music faculty, college of music, music department or conservatory.Music instruction can be provided...

 is also based in Soltau.

Media


The Böhme-Zeitung daily newspaper has been going since 1864 with a print run of 12,116 copies (2nd quarter 2008). In addition there is the weekly free newspaper, the Mittwoch aktuell, with a circulation of 29,000 and the twice-weekly Heide-Kurier with 44,000 copies.

Rail



Soltau's station, which is still called Soltau (Hannover) (abbreviated to Soltau (Han)) by the Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

 belongs to the Hanover Railway Division and lies on the America Line
America Line
The America Line is the unofficial name of a railway line in northern Germany which is mainly of regional importance today...

 (KBS 116) from Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 to Uelzen
Uelzen
Uelzen is a town in northeast Lower Saxony, Germany, and capital of the county of Uelzen. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, a Hanseatic town and an independent municipality....

 and on the Heath Railway
Heath Railway
The Heath Railway is a regional railway line in North Germany that crosses the Lüneburg Heath from which it derives its name. Most of the line is unelectrified and single-tracked. It links Buchholz in der Nordheide with Hanover, the capital city of Lower Saxony...

 (Heidebahn) (KBS 123) from Buchholz (Nordheide)
Buchholz in der Nordheide
Buchholz in der Nordheide is the largest town in the district of Harburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 25 km southwest of Hamburg.-Geography:Buchholz is home to the Brunsberg, the region's highest mountain...

 to Bennemühlen(-Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

). There are two other stops - Soltau Nord and Wolterdingen - on the Heath Railway.

Soltau also has a goods station
Goods station
A goods station is, in the widest sense, a railway station which is exclusively or predominantly where goods of any description are loaded or unloaded from ships or road vehicles and/or where goods wagons are transferred to local sidings.A station where goods are not specifically received or...

 (Soltau Süd) in the OHE network with goods traffic links to Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

, Uelzen
Uelzen
Uelzen is a town in northeast Lower Saxony, Germany, and capital of the county of Uelzen. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, a Hanseatic town and an independent municipality....

 and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. These routes also used to have regular passenger services. The Lüneburg Transport Society (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verkehrsfreunde Lüneburg) occasionally runs passenger trains on these lines to Celle and Lüneburg under the name Heath Express (Heide-Express).
In summer there is also the Ameisenbär ("Anteater"), a historic Wismar railbus
Wismar railbus
The 'Hanover version' of the Wismar railbus was developed in the early 1930s as a light railbus for economical passenger services on branch lines in Germany.- History :...

 from 1937 that runs from Soltau via Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 to Döhle and back.

The old Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway
Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway
The Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway was a standard gauge line built for the East Hanoverian Railways in North Germany.- History :...

 has now been dismantled. Between 1998 and 2001 there was a roadrailer
Roadrailer
In railroad terminology a Roadrailer or RoadRailer is a highway trailer, or semi-trailer, that is specially equipped for use in railroad intermodal service.- Overview :...

 shuttle from Soltau-Harber to Verona
Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

 in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 which used to run several times a week for the firm of 'alli-Frischdienst' that used to be based in Soltau. The halt of Harber is now just used as a passing loop
Passing loop
A passing loop is a place on a single line railway or tramway, often located at a station, where trains or trams in opposing directions can pass each other. Trains/trams in the same direction can also overtake, providing that the signalling arrangement allows it...

.

Road


Since 1959 Soltau has had the motorway exits of Soltau-Süd and Soltau-Ost on the A 7 or E 45
European route E45
The European route E 45 goes between Sweden and Italy, through Denmark, Germany and Austria. With a length of about , it is the longest north-south European route...

 autobahn.
Other major roads include the Bundesstraße
Bundesstraße
Bundesstraße , abbreviated B, is the denotation for German and Austrian national highways.-Germany:...

n
B 3, B 71
Bundesstraße 71
The Bundesstraße 71 is one of the longer German federal roads numbered in the 60s and 70s series. It begins at the B 6 in Bremerhaven by the Unterweser and ends in Könnern near Halle in Saxony-Anhalt...

 and B 209
Bundesstraße 209
Bundesstraße 209 is a German federal road that runs from Nienburg/Weser district in Lower Saxony to Schwarzenbek in the district of Herzogtum Lauenburg, Schleswig-Holstein.- Route :...

 and the Landesstraße
Landesstraße
Landesstraßen are roads in Germany and Austria that are, as a rule, the responsibility of the respective German or Austrian federal state. The term may therefore be translated as "state road". They are roads that cross the boundary of a rural or urban district...

, L 163.

As well as the regular regional bus services run by the 'Verkehrsgemeinschaft Heidekreis', which links Soltau with the surrounding towns and villages, there is a free "experience bus" (Erlebnisbus) between July and October through the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

, which links the numerous tourist sights in the region. The two routes of the Erlebnisbus have several stops in Soltau and at the Heide Park. In addition the coach
Coach (vehicle)
A coach is a large motor vehicle, a type of bus, used for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer distance express coach scheduled transport between cities - or even between countries...

 line from Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 to Cuxhaven via Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 and Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 operated by the 'Berlin Linien Bus-Gesellschaft' stops at the town every day. In the summer there are also direct bus links to the Heide Park from Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

 and Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

.

Cycling


The long distance cycle paths RFW 4 (Leine-Heath Cycle Path) and RFW 15 (Heath Cycle Path or Heide-Radweg) on the Lower Saxon long distance cycle network intersect in Soltau. In 2003 a cycle path concept was developed and implemented. For example, cycle boxes were erected at the station and the cycle network was expanded. In Soltau there are four Bett & Bike ("bed and bike") places that are recommended by the ADFC as especially "cycle-friendly".

Town council



The council comprises 34 councillors in 6 parties:
  • CDU: 13 seats
  • SPD: 7 seats + mayor
  • Bürgerunion (Townsfolk's Union): 6 seats
  • dps (independent party): 3 seats
  • FDP: 2 seats
  • The Greens: 2 seats
  • The Left: 1 seat

Mayor


The directly elected mayor (Bürgermeister) of the town of Soltau is Wilhelm Ruhkopf (SPD).

Coat of arms



The coat of arms of the town of Soltau shows the lion of the Welf dynasty behind a red city gate. The lion was part of the original town seal from around 1400 as the town belonged to the Dukes of Lüneburg, of the House of Welf. Later the lion was depicted lying on the town gate, since the 19th century it has been depicted behind the gate.

Twin towns


Soltau is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: Coldwater, Michigan
Coldwater, Michigan
Coldwater is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,945. It is the county seat of Branch County....

, USA (since 1971) Laon
Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

, France (since 1972)
  • Osterburg
    Osterburg (Altmark)
    Osterburg is a town in the district of Stendal, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, situated approximately 22 km northwest of Stendal.-International relations:Osterburg is twinned with: Wieluń, Poland...

    , Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     (since 1991) Myślibórz
    Myslibórz
    Myślibórz is a city in north-west Poland, in West Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is the capital of the Powiat of Myślibórz...

    , Poland (since 1997)
  • Grünberg in Schlesien/Zielona Góra
    Zielona Góra
    Zielona Góra is a city in Lubusz Voivodeship, in western Poland, with 117,557 inhabitants within the city limits and 294,000 inhabitants within the metropolitan area, including three neighbouring counties ....

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , (since 1997)

Elections


For elections to the Landtag of Lower Saxony, Soltau is part of the constituency of Soltau together with the towns of Munster and Schneverdingen
Schneverdingen
Schneverdingen is a town in the northern part of the district of Heidekreis, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 15 km north of Soltau, and 50 km south of Hamburg....

 and the villages of Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 and Neuenkirchen.

For Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

 elections Soltau belongs to various Bundestag constituencies:
Bundestag election Constituency number Name
1949, 1953, 1957, 1961 36 Harburg - Soltau
1965, 1969, 1972, 1976 30 Soltau - Harburg
1980, 1983 30 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Rotenburg
1987, 1990, 1994, 1998 30 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Rotenburg II
2002, 2005 36 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Winsen L.
2009 36 Rotenburg I - Soltau-Fallingbostel


Middle Ages


The region of the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

 had already been settled by the start of the New Stone Age about 4,000 years ago. The Soltau area was initially occupied by a few individual farms. The parish of Soltau was probably founded around 830 and the first wooden church Sante Johannis Baptista (St. John the Baptist) was built.

The first written record of Soltau was in the year 936 as Curtis Salta ("farm on the salt river"). King
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

 Otto the Great
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

 granted the estate from the time of the Carolingian dynasty to Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of Henry the Fowler, as his memorial...

. Within a span of almost 600 years the village of Soltouwe emerged from Curtis Salta. It was located in the area between St. John's Church and the Waldmühle mill.

In 1304 the Vogtei
Vogtei
Vogtei could be:* The residenz or domain of a Vogt* Vogtei , a municipal association in the Unstrut-Hainich district of Thuringia, Germany....

of Soltau was sold to the cathedral chapter
Cathedral chapter
In accordance with canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese in his stead. These councils are made up of canons and dignitaries; in the Roman Catholic church their...

 of Verden. Between 1383 and 1388 the village was established by order of the Duke as protection against robber barons at the confluence of the rivers Böhme and Soltau near Hagen and Burg, which today is in the town centre. Subsequently it was decided to demolish the castle there as part of the peace treaty at the end of the Lüneburg War of Succession
Lüneburg War of Succession
The Lüneburg War of Succession was a conflict that broke out in 1370 in north Germany and lasted, with interruptions, for 18 years. The war was over the line of succession to the Principality of Lüneburg...

; at the same time Soltau was given town rights on 15 July 1388 by way of compensation. In 1400 the letter patent for the guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 was issued, which entitled the town to trade. In 1440 another letter patent was specifically conferred on blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

s, tailor
Tailor
A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers,...

s, cobblers, linen and cloth-makers.

The consequences of the war of succession in Soltau can clearly be traced and prevented the rapid growth of the new town; conditions were miserable and many farms were ruined. Moreover, Soltau was a long way from the centres of power, so did not receive much direct support and there were no local lords who felt an association with it.

In 1479 Soltau became part of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and an Amtsvogtei
Vogt
A Vogt ; plural Vögte; Dutch voogd; Danish foged; ; ultimately from Latin [ad]vocatus) in the Holy Roman Empire was the German title of a reeve or advocate, an overlord exerting guardianship or military protection as well as secular justice...

was established. In 1511 the town was totally destroyed by fire.

The last known cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 battle took place in June 1519 ont the 'Wiehe Holt' near Soltau and is known as the Battle of Soltau
Battle of Soltau
The Battle of Soltau took place on 28 June 1519 and was the military climax of the Hildesheim Diocesan Feud which lasted from 1519–1523. Some sources describe it as "the last knights' battle" ....

, which represented the high point of the Hildesheim Abbey Feud. According to long tradition it was only thanks to a ruse by the Soltau townsman, Harm Tyding, who pretended to the advancing Brunswick troops that he knew the whereabouts of a large Lüneburg army and led them on a detour, that the town was not destroyed again.

The Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 saw little conflict in Soltau as a result of the firm stand taken by the Lüneburg duke, Ernest I
Ernest I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg , also frequently called Ernest the Confessor, was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and a champion of the protestant cause during the early years of the Protestant Reformation...

 and his commitment to introducing the Evangelical-Lutheran faith in 1527.

Modern era


In 1533 the town hall was established in an old chapel in Marktstraße. In 1567 another great fire destroyed large parts of the town. In 1588 the first school building was erected, although the first records of school teaching go back to as early as 1563. The plague raged in 1626 and the population dwindled dramatically. Before 1620 there were several years of legal disputes about the acquisition of building land outside the town wall.

In the Thirty Years War Soltau was once again entirely destroyed. All that remained was a great ruin in the landscape and only one building from that time remains. The impact of the war was devastating and it was a long time before the town recovered from its consequences. The traces of the war and the area's occupation by Swedish troops, which began in 1632, is still documented today by the Ellinger Grenzstein ("Ellingen Boundary Stone").

Market rights
Market town
Market town or market right is a legal term, originating in the medieval period, for a European settlement that has the right to host markets, distinguishing it from a village and city...

 and therefore the right to host two fairs a year and a horse market were conferred in 1668. The Old Town Chemist's (Alte Stadtapotheke) was opened in 1796, the first chemist
Chemist
A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms...

 in Soltau.

Soltau first became a garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 town in 1712, a year when the first cloth factory was built.
Napoleonic troops occupied the town in 1803 and turned it into a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 border town for the Kingdom of Westphalia
Kingdom of Westphalia
The Kingdom of Westphalia was a new country of 2.6 million Germans that existed from 1807-1813. It included of territory in Hesse and other parts of present-day Germany. While formally independent, it was a vassal state of the First French Empire, ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte...

 in 1810. Soltau belonged to the Canton of Harburg in the Department of Bouches-de-l'Elbe
Bouches-de-l'Elbe
Bouches-de-l'Elbe is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Germany that survived three years. It is named after the mouth of the river Elbe...

. In 1813 the Lützow infantry
Lützow Free Corps
Lützow Free Corps was a voluntary force of the Prussian army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was named after its commander, Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow. They were also widely known as "Lützower Jäger" or "Schwarze Jäger" .-Origins:...

 and cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

s ended ten years of occupation. In 1826 the Old Town Hall (Alte Rathaus) was built on Poststraße.

In 1873 the first railway through Soltau was opened, the line which linked Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. It was followed in 1901 by the Heath Railway
Heath Railway
The Heath Railway is a regional railway line in North Germany that crosses the Lüneburg Heath from which it derives its name. Most of the line is unelectrified and single-tracked. It links Buchholz in der Nordheide with Hanover, the capital city of Lower Saxony...

 between Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 and, in 1912, the lines of the East Hanoverian Railways to Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

 and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. In 1885 Soltau became a county town
County town
A county town is a county's administrative centre in the United Kingdom or Ireland. County towns are usually the location of administrative or judicial functions, or established over time as the de facto main town of a county. The concept of a county town eventually became detached from its...

 (Kreisstadt). In 1896 the gas works was built and, two years later, the gymnasium and shooting hall.

On Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

 1906 a fire destroyed St. John's Church which had been mentioned in the records since 1464. It was then rebuilt and is still standing today. In 1911 the Lutheran Church was consecrated, the second Protestant church to be founded, and in 1915 the Catholic Church of St. Mary's followed. A royal officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 riding school was founded in 1913.

Soltau Camp (Lager Soltau), the largest German prisoner-of-war camp
Prisoner-of-war camp
A prisoner-of-war camp is a site for the containment of combatants captured by their enemy in time of war, and is similar to an internment camp which is used for civilian populations. A prisoner of war is generally a soldier, sailor, or airman who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or...

 of the First World War was built in 1914. In the same year the mining of potassium salts (Kalisalz) began at the Heinrichssegen Shaft; it had to be halted ony 4 years later as a result of the war having reached a depth of just 6 metres. From 1934 several Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 units were quartered at Wolterdingen Camp (Lager Wolterdingen) and after the end of the Second World War it was used to house refugees and forced labourers until about 1960. From time to time the front
Front (military)
A military front or battlefront is a contested armed frontier between opposing forces. This can be a local or tactical front, or it can range to a theater...

 reached Soltau. In April 1945, the town was partly destroyed by air raids, in which there were many more civilian victims than military.

That same month, prisoners from concentration camps were able to escape from a railway train that had been stopped in Soltau as the result of an air attack. The prisoners were hunted down by members of the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, SS and Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

, with the help of several townsfolk, and 92 of them were shot dead. A few townspeople, by contrast, risked their own lives by providing the escapees with food and clothing.
The post-war trials of those who took part ended in acquittals due to the lack of evidence.

Consequently all that could be recorded were several confirmed killings, but not murders.
Since the beginning of 2005 there have been discussions about a memorial
Memorial
A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for memory of something, usually a person or an event. Popular forms of memorials include landmark objects or art objects such as sculptures, statues or fountains, and even entire parks....

 of eight representative stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

s from the Berlin Holocaust Memorial for "all victims of the Nazi dictatorship". However an internet survey by the newspaper, the Böhme-Zeitung showed that a majority of those who responded were against the memorial. This caused a furore nationally and gave those in favour of a memorial reason to accuse the opponents of having Nazi sentiments. Nevertheless plans to erect the monument in central locations such as immediately in front of the station could not be carried out. This monument appeared from autumn 2006 to March 2007 in the vicinity of the remote site of the killings in the forest of Sibirien (today a hospital stands on the exact spot). The massive opposition from long-time residents of Soltau is frequently put down by them to the lack of commemoration of the many civilian and military victims from their own ranks, because they are not obviously included in the memorial.

Present


In 1949 Soltau became a British garrison during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and home of Headquarters 7th Armoured Brigade. They were based at the former SS Riding School on the outskirts of town (Reitschule).
The base was the home of 207 Signal Squadron and 11 Ordnance Company. It was the most northerly posting for any British serviceman in BAOR (British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

), excluding minor outposts like Dannenberg
Dannenberg (Elbe)
Dannenberg is a town in the district Lüchow-Dannenberg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated near the river Elbe, approx. 30 km north of Salzwedel, and 50 km south-east of Lüneburg...

, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

, in what was known as West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

. Armoured vehicles were regularly seen on the streets on their way to the military training area at Lüneburg and the HQ was responsible for the nearby Soltau-Lüneburg Training Area and its associated hutted camp at Reinsehlen. The signal squadron had three troops, two of which were armoured, using variants of the FV432
FV432
The FV432 is the armoured personnel carrier variant of the British Army's FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Since its introduction in the 1960s it has been the most common variant, being used for transporting infantry on the battlefield...

 for telecommunication purposes. The soldiers were given the freedom of the town after returning from the first Gulf War in 1991. They marched through the town to mark the occasion.

The site of the British barracks was the first in Germany to be turned over to private hands in 1993, one year after the withdrawal of British troops. Today the old barracks is a business centre, used for doctors' practices and social institutions. It is also home to the Alte Reithalle ("Old Riding Hall") Event Centre which has become an important indoor event location after its finished restoration in 2003.

In 1972 Soltau became an state-recognised resort and in 1987 was designate as a 'state-recognised town with brine cure facilities'. In the administrative reforms of 1974 16 surrounding villages were incorporated into a new borough. In 1977 the districts of Soltau and Fallingbostel merged into the district of Soltau-Fallingbostel
Soltau-Fallingbostel
Heidekreis is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Harburg, Lüneburg, Uelzen, Celle, Hanover, Nienburg, Verden and Rotenburg.-History:...

; Soltau lost its status as the district HQ.

The Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 was opened in 1978; today it is the largest amusement park
Amusement park
thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

 in North Germany, in which inter alia in 2001 it opened the Colossos
Colossos (roller coaster)
Colossos is a wooden roller coaster at Heide Park in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the first wooden roller coaster to use prefabricated track. Colossos is the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Europe and the tallest running wooden roller coaster in the world...

, then the largest and steepest wooden roller coaster
Roller coaster
The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride developed for amusement parks and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first coasters on January 20, 1885...

 in the world, and, in 2003, the Scream
Scream (Soltau)
thumb|uprightThe Gyro-Drop Tower Scream is an amusement ride in the Heide Park, Soltau, Germany. With a height of to the pinnacle it is the tallest "gyro drop" free-fall ride in the world....

, the highest drop tower in the world. In 2007 followed the Desert Race ride. Other tourist attractions include the Soltau Thermal Baths in 1990 and the North German Toy Museum
North German Toy Museum
The Soltau Toy Museum , formerly the North German Toy Museum in Soltau originated from a private collection. It was founded in 1984 by Hannelore Ernst....

 in 1994.
In 1988 the Showpalast ("Show Palace") was founded at the Soltau secondary modern school
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

 (Hauptschule); it remains Germany's only schoolchildren's cabaret and has already put on numerous performances at fairs and on television.

In 1998 a retail park
Retail park
In the United Kingdom, a retail park is a grouping of many retail warehouses and superstores with associated car parking. Its North American equivalent is a power centre. Retail parks are found on the fringes of most large towns and cities in highly accessible locations and are aimed at households...

 opened in the Alm industrial estate. From 1996 there were discussions in Soltau about the construction of a 10,000 m² outlet store
Outlet store
An outlet store or factory outlet is a brick and mortar or online retail store in which manufacturers sell their stock directly to the public. Traditionally, a factory outlet was a store attached to a factory or warehouse, sometimes allowing customers to watch the production process like in the...

. The town failed several times in the courts, the last time in 2006 at the Federal Administrative Court of Germany
Federal Administrative Court of Germany
The Federal Administrative Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for generally all cases of administrative law, mainly disputes between citizens and the state...

. Protests were led by the surrounding towns of Verden, Rotenburg and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. In 2006 proceedings were begun to obtain permission to deviate from a planning objective which would enable the construction of an outlet centre in spite of the latest rejection. With a change to the state regional development programme in 2008 the establishment of a factory outlet centre in the tourist region of the Lüneburg Heath was finally granted. For the purposes of the town of Soltau, the town of Bad Fallingbostel
Bad Fallingbostel
Bad Fallingbostel is the district town of the Heidekreis district in the German state of Lower Saxony. Since 1976 the town has had a state-recognised Kneipp spa and has held the title of Bad since 5 August 2002. It has close ties to Walsrode, a few miles to the west...

 and the parish of Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 regional proceedings were begun. In February 2009 this process was concluded by the supreme state planning department (State Ministry of Economics) producing a positive outcome for Soltau and a negative one for its two competitors. Construction is due to start in 2010 despite Bispingen launching an appeal. It is due to open in spring 2012.

On 20 October 2004 an earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 shook the region. It had a strength 4.5 on the Richter Scale and its epicentre was in Neuenkirchen. There had been a previous earthquake of strength 4 with an epicentre in Soltau on 2 June 1977.

In 2006 the German Children's Society (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) in Soltau and its town marketing project Soltau Playground (spielraum SOLTAU), which intended to launch numerous initiatives to promote the image of Soltau as a child- and family-friendly town, was voted as the model community for the project "Play! Space is everywhere." (Spiel! Platz ist überall).

In March 2007 a concept for the transformation of the town centre was proposed. The Schaper Market, which had been built in the 1970s and lain empty since 2004, a footbridge (locally called the Fenner-Kringel) and a multi-storey car park were demolished in 2008 and the theatre moved to Hagen, so that a new building could be built with a total sales floor of about 4,000 m². The new shopping centre was opened in March 2009.

Population growth



The oldest list of townsfolk in the town book of 1452 enumerates 42 households in Soltau, this represents a good 200 inhabitants based on the conditions of the time. Around 1600 there were about 100 households in Soltau, this corresponds to some 500 inhabitants who lived in about 70 houses. The black death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 raged in 1626 and caused the population to plummet dramatically. After that, the number of inhabitants rose slowly at first; accelerating from 1940. The large increase in 1974 is due to the regional reform and the incorporation of 16 surrounding villages. Following a short drop in the numbers the population grew again in the 1990s and reached its maximum in 2005 at 22,044. According to internal censuses the town has even greater numbers, e.g. in 2001 23,508, but this is mainly due to the inclusion of those with second home
Vacation property
Vacation property is a niche in the real estate market dealing with residences used for holiday vacations . In the United Kingdom this type of property is usually termed a holiday home, in Australia, a holiday house/home, or weekender, in New Zealand, a bach or crib...

s. Since then the numbers have dropped slowly. This trend should stop in the next few years according to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation
Bertelsmann Foundation
The Bertelsmann Foundation is the largest private operating non-profit foundation in Germany, created in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn. The Bertelsmann Foundation holds 77.4 percent of Bertelsmann AG....

. For 2025 the study forecast a population of 21,614.
class="prettytable"> Year Population
1452 ca. 220
1600 ca. 500
1626 ca. 60
3 December 1864 ¹ 2,000
1 December 1890 ¹ 3,419
2 December 1895 ¹ 4,025
1 December 1905 ¹ 4,861
16 June 1925 ¹ 5,723
16 June 1933 ¹ 6,746
17 May 1939 ¹ 8,318
13 September 1950 ¹ 14,560
1 October 1960 14,483
class="prettytable"> Year Population 30 June 1970 15,519 31 December 1972 15,873 31 December 1974 20,189 31 December 1980 18,921 31 December 1985 18,940 31 December 1990 19,714 31 December 1991 20,031 31 December 1995 21,040 31 December 2000 21,906 31 December 2005 22,044 31 December 2007 21,950 31 December 2008 21,831
¹ Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 censuses

Culture and places of interest



Churches



There is a number of churches worth seeing in Soltau. These include St. John's, which was first mentioned in 1464. The Lutheran Church was the second Protestant church to be built in Soltau (in 1911) after St. John's had burnt down in 1906 and only a small replacement was built. Other religious buildings are the Catholic St. Mary's Church built in 1915, the Holy Spirit Church in Wolterdingen as an old Gothic heath church dating to 1245, the Heidenhof Chapel built in 1349 and the Zion Church of the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
The Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church is a confessional Lutheran church body of Germany. It is a member of the European Lutheran Conference and a member of the International Lutheran Council . The SELK synod has about 36,000 members in 200 congregations...

 built in 1888.


Museums and leisure facilities



Opposite the equally attractive Old Town Hall in the centre of the town is the building housing the North German Toy Museum
North German Toy Museum
The Soltau Toy Museum , formerly the North German Toy Museum in Soltau originated from a private collection. It was founded in 1984 by Hannelore Ernst....

 with 600 m² of exhibition floor and the Soltau Museum. The latter traces the history of Soltau up to 200,000 ago.

In the surrounding region, the Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 amusement park is very well known. Other facilities are the Soltau Thermal Springs (Soltau-Therme) and the Hof Loh golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

.

Other sights are the Hagen with its drawbridge and the so-called Marriage Well (Heiratsbrunnen), which was built in 1978 by Karlheinz Goedtke, the Waldmühle Library and the Ratsmühle.

Parks, nature reserves and cemeteries


Near the centre of town is the Breidingsgarten, a landscaped park that is under heritage protection. It was laid out around 1850 along English lines and has an area of 11 hectares (27.2 acre). Within the garden, next to a villa built in the Italian style is a ruined building, an old farmstead and fish and ornamental ponds. It is currently in private hands but may still be visited.
Other open spaces in the town include the Böhme Park and the Röders' Park am Halifax. Nearby recreation areas are the Wacholder Park, an area of heath with a sheep shed, the Ahlftener Flatt, a lake from the last ice age, which is popular for ice skating in winter, and the Kuhbach Forest. Around Soltau there are various woods belonging to the Soltau Abbey Forest (Klosterforst) covering a total of 14500 hectares (35,830.2 acre) which is managed by the Soltau Abbey Forestry Department.

In Soltau's vicinity are several nature reserves: the Böhmetal bei Huckenrieth, Ehbläcksmoor and the Schwarzes Moor near Dannhorn.

Soltau has two cemeteries, the town cemetery and the forest cemetery. There are also the ruins of a Jewish cemetery
Jewish cemetery
A Jewish cemetery is a cemetery where members of the Jewish faith are buried in keeping with Jewish tradition....

 in which people were interred from 1721 to 1926.

Culture


The Soltau Cultural Society and the Culture Initiative organise readings and concerts in the town on the Böhme river. Since 2008 the cultural week Zwischenspiel - Das Zelt has taken place annually, with readings, concerts, cabaret and theatre performances in a circus tent. There are also events by the Soltauer Gespräche ("Soltau Talks") and the Soltau Artists House that has admitted writers, painters or musicians since 1995. The Waldmühle Library takes part in the Summer Reading Club Project which is part of the Cultural Secretariat of NRW (Kultursekretariats NRW).

Sport


The oldest sports club
Sports club
A sports club or sport club, sometimes athletics club or sports association is a club for the purpose of playing one or more sports...

 in Soltau is MTV Soltau, which was founded in 1864. Today it offers 16 different activities, of which football is the largest with four men's, a women's, four girls' and 15 boys' teams of all ages.
The second oldest club is SV Soltau, founded in 1912. Here, too, the main activity is football, but there are also many other activities. In 2002 a third football club, SG Inter Soltau, was started, but it disbanded again after a few years.

The oldest tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 club is TC Blau-Weiß Soltau. Founded in 1952, it opened the first tennis courts in Soltau. There is also a second tennis club, TVC Soltau. In 1993 a table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

 club was started, TTC 93 Soltau.

Pool has been played in Soltau since 1987 at the Pool Billard Sport Club Triangel. The club plays in the highest Lower Saxon league and takes part in several German tournaments.

There is also a Schützenverein
Schützenverein
A Schützenverein is in German language countries a voluntary association featuring sport-shooting either on Olympic levels or historic weapons....

 (shooting club), the Schützengilde Soltau Stadt und Land, which held its first Schützenfest
Schützenfest
A Schützenfest is a traditional festival or fair featuring a target shooting competition in the cultures of both Germany and Switzerland....

s in the 15th century and, since 1741, has had a Schützenfest almost every year.

Soltau has another 20 or so smaller clubs offering around 30 different types of sport.

Sports facilities include an indoor and open-air swimming pool, six sports fields, eight sports halls, a riding hall
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

, a golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

, three tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 courts, four nine-pin bowling
Nine-pin bowling
Nine-pin bowling is a bowling game played primarily in Europe. European championships are held each year. Over 90,000 members are on teams in Germany, often playing in officially registered Bundeskegelbahnen to be found in almost every sizable town...

 alleys, a ten-pin bowling
Ten-pin bowling
Ten-pin bowling is a competitive sport in which a player rolls a bowling ball down a wooden or synthetic lane with the objective of scoring points by knocking down as many pins as possible.-Summary:The lane is bordered along its length by semicylindrical channels Ten-pin bowling (commonly just...

 alley, squash
Squash (sport)
Squash is a high-speed racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball...

 courts, an inline skating
Inline skating
Inline skating is a recreational sport practiced widely internationally. Inline skates typically have 2 to 5 polyurethane wheels, arranged in a single line. The in-line design allows for greater speed than roller skates and better maneuverability...

 facility, a polo field, a group of ponds for angler
Angling
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...

s and 2000 m² of indoor sports hall, the Heidewitzka.

The finals of the German water polo championships took place between 1960 and 1971 in Soltau. In addition since 2004 the Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 has been the annual venue for the canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 white water sprint
Whitewater racing
Wildwater canoeing is a competitive discipline of canoeing in which kayaks or Canadian canoes are used to negotiate a stretch of river speedily...

 as part of the Germany Cup. The Heide Park has also hosted, in April 2003, the World Wide Championship of LAN Gaming finals and in September 2006 the German qualifiers for the World Cyber Games 2006
World Cyber Games
The World Cyber Games is an international competitive video-gaming event operated by South Korean company World Cyber Games Inc., and sponsored by Samsung and Microsoft...

 in electronic sports
Electronic sports
Electronic sports comprises the competitive play of video games. Other terms include competitive gaming, professional gaming and cybersports...

 and between 1997 and 2003 the annual pole-sitting
Pole-sitting
Pole-sitting is the practice of sitting on a pole for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is often placed at the top of the pole.- History :...

 world cup.

Industry


Many industrial and trading companies have settled in Soltau.
There is a wide range of firms in the metalworking and mechanical engineering sphere including: Röders-Tec (high-speed cutting milling machines, blow moulding, pewter), G.A.Röders (die casting, injection moulding, toolmaking), Röhrs AG (plant manufacturing, industrial building, power plant services), Saxlund International (hauling engines, pumps), Nortec (mechanical engineering) and Colt International (technical building protection).
In the food industry are firms like Harry-Brot (bread, cakes and pastries) and H&S Tee Pack Service (teabag packers) and in textiles: Gebr. Röders AG (felt) and Breiding (bedsprings) (founded 1836). In addition the firm of MVG Mathé-Schmierstofftechnik makes lubricants and the Greenpeace Energy Windpark generates electricity.

Trade


Soltau is the headquarters of hagebau (purchasing cooperative for building materials, woode and tile dealers) and JAWOLL (special deals market) and a distribution centre for the firm of Deichmann (shoes).
The building industry cooperative, ZEUS, has its main headquarters in the town as do the cattle and meat merchants of Raiffeisen Viehvermarktung Zentralheide and the SLC Container Terminal with 250,000 containers for Hamburg Harbour
Hamburg Harbour
-External links:* * Port of Hamburg: Facts, figures, and outlook* * Currently under construction in the HafenCity* *...

. From 1923 to the mid-1990s the headquarters of the Edeka
EDEKA
The Edeka Group is the largest German supermarket corporation, currently holding a market share of 26%. Founded in 1898, it consists today of several cooperatives of independent supermarkets all operating under the umbrella organisation Edeka Zentrale AG & Co KG, with headquarters in Hamburg...

 Group was in Soltau; it has now moved to Minden
Minden
Minden is a town of about 83,000 inhabitants in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The town extends along both sides of the river Weser. It is the capital of the Kreis of Minden-Lübbecke, which is part of the region of Detmold. Minden is the historic political centre of the...

.

Banks


Soltau is the base for the Kreissparkasse Soltau bank and, until 2008, for the Volksbank Lüneburger Heide. When the latter merged with the Volksbank Lüneburg, the head office moved to Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. There are also branches of the Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

 and the Postbank
Deutsche Postbank
Deutsche Postbank AG is a German retail bank with headquarters in Bonn. Postbank was formed from the demerger of the postal savings division of Deutsche Bundespost in 1990. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Post in 1999, and was partially spun out on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2004...

.

Education



The first recorded school teaching took place in 1563 in the verger
Verger
A verger is a person, usually a layman, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches.-History:...

's living room. In 1588 the first school building was built by the church in Marktstraße, the first state school followed in 1844. The building in Mühlenstraße still houses the Freudenthal Primary School today. In 1894 townsfolk founded a higher private school. In 1923 a middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 was established.

Today Soltau has three primary schools (Grundschulen), a grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

 (Gymnasium) with just under 1,400 children, a middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 (Realschule), a secondary modern school
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

 (Hauptschule) and a special needs
Special needs
In the USA, special needs is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological. For instance, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International...

 school (Förderschule).
In addition the charity Lebenshilfe Soltau supports a special needs centre, a kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 for children with speech difficulties, a remedial kindergarten and a creche for early learners.
The Soltau Vocational School (Berufsbildende Schule or BBS) is a combined school with four different streams of education under one roof. There is a grammar stream specialising in economics, a technical high stream (Fachoberschule) for technology and economics, and numerous vocational courses in economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

, home economics
Home Economics
Home economics is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community...

, careworking
Homecare
British Gas HomeCare is the name for British Gas Services which operates in the United Kingdom, which was originally set up to provide maintenance for central heating and other gas appliances....

, cosmetics
Cosmetics
Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and...

, gastronomy
Gastronomy
Gastronomy is the art or science of food eating. Also, it can be defined as the study of food and culture, with a particular focus on gourmet cuisine...

, agricultural science
Agricultural science
Agricultural science is a broad multidisciplinary field that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. -Agriculture and agricultural science:The two terms are often confused...

, construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, woodwork, metalwork or hairdressing. About 2,400 schoolchildren attend.

The adult education centre (Volkshochschule) Heidekreis is based in Soltau and Walsrode
Walsrode
-Middle Ages:986 Foundation of Walsrode Abbey by Count Walo. The first recorded mentionof the town is dated May 7, 986.1383 The dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg grant Walsrode a town charter.1479 First recorded instance of Walsrode's coat of arms...

 and currently offers about 930 courses.

The Waldmühle Library is the largest in the district. The Heidekreis music school
Music school
The term music school refers to an educational institution specialized in the study, training and research of music.Different terms refer to this concept such as school of music, music academy, music faculty, college of music, music department or conservatory.Music instruction can be provided...

 is also based in Soltau.

Media


The Böhme-Zeitung daily newspaper has been going since 1864 with a print run of 12,116 copies (2nd quarter 2008). In addition there is the weekly free newspaper, the Mittwoch aktuell, with a circulation of 29,000 and the twice-weekly Heide-Kurier with 44,000 copies.

Rail



Soltau's station, which is still called Soltau (Hannover) (abbreviated to Soltau (Han)) by the Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

 belongs to the Hanover Railway Division and lies on the America Line
America Line
The America Line is the unofficial name of a railway line in northern Germany which is mainly of regional importance today...

 (KBS 116) from Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 to Uelzen
Uelzen
Uelzen is a town in northeast Lower Saxony, Germany, and capital of the county of Uelzen. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, a Hanseatic town and an independent municipality....

 and on the Heath Railway
Heath Railway
The Heath Railway is a regional railway line in North Germany that crosses the Lüneburg Heath from which it derives its name. Most of the line is unelectrified and single-tracked. It links Buchholz in der Nordheide with Hanover, the capital city of Lower Saxony...

 (Heidebahn) (KBS 123) from Buchholz (Nordheide)
Buchholz in der Nordheide
Buchholz in der Nordheide is the largest town in the district of Harburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 25 km southwest of Hamburg.-Geography:Buchholz is home to the Brunsberg, the region's highest mountain...

 to Bennemühlen(-Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

). There are two other stops - Soltau Nord and Wolterdingen - on the Heath Railway.

Soltau also has a goods station
Goods station
A goods station is, in the widest sense, a railway station which is exclusively or predominantly where goods of any description are loaded or unloaded from ships or road vehicles and/or where goods wagons are transferred to local sidings.A station where goods are not specifically received or...

 (Soltau Süd) in the OHE network with goods traffic links to Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

, Uelzen
Uelzen
Uelzen is a town in northeast Lower Saxony, Germany, and capital of the county of Uelzen. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, a Hanseatic town and an independent municipality....

 and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. These routes also used to have regular passenger services. The Lüneburg Transport Society (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verkehrsfreunde Lüneburg) occasionally runs passenger trains on these lines to Celle and Lüneburg under the name Heath Express (Heide-Express).
In summer there is also the Ameisenbär ("Anteater"), a historic Wismar railbus
Wismar railbus
The 'Hanover version' of the Wismar railbus was developed in the early 1930s as a light railbus for economical passenger services on branch lines in Germany.- History :...

 from 1937 that runs from Soltau via Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 to Döhle and back.

The old Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway
Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway
The Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway was a standard gauge line built for the East Hanoverian Railways in North Germany.- History :...

 has now been dismantled. Between 1998 and 2001 there was a roadrailer
Roadrailer
In railroad terminology a Roadrailer or RoadRailer is a highway trailer, or semi-trailer, that is specially equipped for use in railroad intermodal service.- Overview :...

 shuttle from Soltau-Harber to Verona
Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

 in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 which used to run several times a week for the firm of 'alli-Frischdienst' that used to be based in Soltau. The halt of Harber is now just used as a passing loop
Passing loop
A passing loop is a place on a single line railway or tramway, often located at a station, where trains or trams in opposing directions can pass each other. Trains/trams in the same direction can also overtake, providing that the signalling arrangement allows it...

.

Road


Since 1959 Soltau has had the motorway exits of Soltau-Süd and Soltau-Ost on the A 7 or E 45
European route E45
The European route E 45 goes between Sweden and Italy, through Denmark, Germany and Austria. With a length of about , it is the longest north-south European route...

 autobahn.
Other major roads include the Bundesstraße
Bundesstraße
Bundesstraße , abbreviated B, is the denotation for German and Austrian national highways.-Germany:...

n
B 3, B 71
Bundesstraße 71
The Bundesstraße 71 is one of the longer German federal roads numbered in the 60s and 70s series. It begins at the B 6 in Bremerhaven by the Unterweser and ends in Könnern near Halle in Saxony-Anhalt...

 and B 209
Bundesstraße 209
Bundesstraße 209 is a German federal road that runs from Nienburg/Weser district in Lower Saxony to Schwarzenbek in the district of Herzogtum Lauenburg, Schleswig-Holstein.- Route :...

 and the Landesstraße
Landesstraße
Landesstraßen are roads in Germany and Austria that are, as a rule, the responsibility of the respective German or Austrian federal state. The term may therefore be translated as "state road". They are roads that cross the boundary of a rural or urban district...

, L 163.

As well as the regular regional bus services run by the 'Verkehrsgemeinschaft Heidekreis', which links Soltau with the surrounding towns and villages, there is a free "experience bus" (Erlebnisbus) between July and October through the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

, which links the numerous tourist sights in the region. The two routes of the Erlebnisbus have several stops in Soltau and at the Heide Park. In addition the coach
Coach (vehicle)
A coach is a large motor vehicle, a type of bus, used for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer distance express coach scheduled transport between cities - or even between countries...

 line from Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 to Cuxhaven via Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 and Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 operated by the 'Berlin Linien Bus-Gesellschaft' stops at the town every day. In the summer there are also direct bus links to the Heide Park from Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

 and Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

.

Cycling


The long distance cycle paths RFW 4 (Leine-Heath Cycle Path) and RFW 15 (Heath Cycle Path or Heide-Radweg) on the Lower Saxon long distance cycle network intersect in Soltau. In 2003 a cycle path concept was developed and implemented. For example, cycle boxes were erected at the station and the cycle network was expanded. In Soltau there are four Bett & Bike ("bed and bike") places that are recommended by the ADFC as especially "cycle-friendly".

Town council



The council comprises 34 councillors in 6 parties:
  • CDU: 13 seats
  • SPD: 7 seats + mayor
  • Bürgerunion (Townsfolk's Union): 6 seats
  • dps (independent party): 3 seats
  • FDP: 2 seats
  • The Greens: 2 seats
  • The Left: 1 seat

Mayor


The directly elected mayor (Bürgermeister) of the town of Soltau is Wilhelm Ruhkopf (SPD).

Coat of arms



The coat of arms of the town of Soltau shows the lion of the Welf dynasty behind a red city gate. The lion was part of the original town seal from around 1400 as the town belonged to the Dukes of Lüneburg, of the House of Welf. Later the lion was depicted lying on the town gate, since the 19th century it has been depicted behind the gate.

Twin towns


Soltau is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: Coldwater, Michigan
Coldwater, Michigan
Coldwater is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,945. It is the county seat of Branch County....

, USA (since 1971) Laon
Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

, France (since 1972)
  • Osterburg
    Osterburg (Altmark)
    Osterburg is a town in the district of Stendal, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, situated approximately 22 km northwest of Stendal.-International relations:Osterburg is twinned with: Wieluń, Poland...

    , Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     (since 1991) Myślibórz
    Myslibórz
    Myślibórz is a city in north-west Poland, in West Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is the capital of the Powiat of Myślibórz...

    , Poland (since 1997)
  • Grünberg in Schlesien/Zielona Góra
    Zielona Góra
    Zielona Góra is a city in Lubusz Voivodeship, in western Poland, with 117,557 inhabitants within the city limits and 294,000 inhabitants within the metropolitan area, including three neighbouring counties ....

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , (since 1997)

Elections


For elections to the Landtag of Lower Saxony, Soltau is part of the constituency of Soltau together with the towns of Munster and Schneverdingen
Schneverdingen
Schneverdingen is a town in the northern part of the district of Heidekreis, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 15 km north of Soltau, and 50 km south of Hamburg....

 and the villages of Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 and Neuenkirchen.

For Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

 elections Soltau belongs to various Bundestag constituencies:
Bundestag election Constituency number Name
1949, 1953, 1957, 1961 36 Harburg - Soltau
1965, 1969, 1972, 1976 30 Soltau - Harburg
1980, 1983 30 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Rotenburg
1987, 1990, 1994, 1998 30 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Rotenburg II
2002, 2005 36 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Winsen L.
2009 36 Rotenburg I - Soltau-Fallingbostel


Middle Ages


The region of the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

 had already been settled by the start of the New Stone Age about 4,000 years ago. The Soltau area was initially occupied by a few individual farms. The parish of Soltau was probably founded around 830 and the first wooden church Sante Johannis Baptista (St. John the Baptist) was built.

The first written record of Soltau was in the year 936 as Curtis Salta ("farm on the salt river"). King
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

 Otto the Great
Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto I the Great , son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda of Ringelheim, was Duke of Saxony, King of Germany, King of Italy, and "the first of the Germans to be called the emperor of Italy" according to Arnulf of Milan...

 granted the estate from the time of the Carolingian dynasty to Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey
Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of Henry the Fowler, as his memorial...

. Within a span of almost 600 years the village of Soltouwe emerged from Curtis Salta. It was located in the area between St. John's Church and the Waldmühle mill.

In 1304 the Vogtei
Vogtei
Vogtei could be:* The residenz or domain of a Vogt* Vogtei , a municipal association in the Unstrut-Hainich district of Thuringia, Germany....

of Soltau was sold to the cathedral chapter
Cathedral chapter
In accordance with canon law, a cathedral chapter is a college of clerics formed to advise a bishop and, in the case of a vacancy of the episcopal see in some countries, to govern the diocese in his stead. These councils are made up of canons and dignitaries; in the Roman Catholic church their...

 of Verden. Between 1383 and 1388 the village was established by order of the Duke as protection against robber barons at the confluence of the rivers Böhme and Soltau near Hagen and Burg, which today is in the town centre. Subsequently it was decided to demolish the castle there as part of the peace treaty at the end of the Lüneburg War of Succession
Lüneburg War of Succession
The Lüneburg War of Succession was a conflict that broke out in 1370 in north Germany and lasted, with interruptions, for 18 years. The war was over the line of succession to the Principality of Lüneburg...

; at the same time Soltau was given town rights on 15 July 1388 by way of compensation. In 1400 the letter patent for the guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 was issued, which entitled the town to trade. In 1440 another letter patent was specifically conferred on blacksmith
Blacksmith
A blacksmith is a person who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal; that is, by using tools to hammer, bend, and cut...

s, tailor
Tailor
A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers,...

s, cobblers, linen and cloth-makers.

The consequences of the war of succession in Soltau can clearly be traced and prevented the rapid growth of the new town; conditions were miserable and many farms were ruined. Moreover, Soltau was a long way from the centres of power, so did not receive much direct support and there were no local lords who felt an association with it.

In 1479 Soltau became part of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg and an Amtsvogtei
Vogt
A Vogt ; plural Vögte; Dutch voogd; Danish foged; ; ultimately from Latin [ad]vocatus) in the Holy Roman Empire was the German title of a reeve or advocate, an overlord exerting guardianship or military protection as well as secular justice...

was established. In 1511 the town was totally destroyed by fire.

The last known cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 battle took place in June 1519 ont the 'Wiehe Holt' near Soltau and is known as the Battle of Soltau
Battle of Soltau
The Battle of Soltau took place on 28 June 1519 and was the military climax of the Hildesheim Diocesan Feud which lasted from 1519–1523. Some sources describe it as "the last knights' battle" ....

, which represented the high point of the Hildesheim Abbey Feud. According to long tradition it was only thanks to a ruse by the Soltau townsman, Harm Tyding, who pretended to the advancing Brunswick troops that he knew the whereabouts of a large Lüneburg army and led them on a detour, that the town was not destroyed again.

The Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 saw little conflict in Soltau as a result of the firm stand taken by the Lüneburg duke, Ernest I
Ernest I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg
Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg , also frequently called Ernest the Confessor, was duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and a champion of the protestant cause during the early years of the Protestant Reformation...

 and his commitment to introducing the Evangelical-Lutheran faith in 1527.

Modern era


In 1533 the town hall was established in an old chapel in Marktstraße. In 1567 another great fire destroyed large parts of the town. In 1588 the first school building was erected, although the first records of school teaching go back to as early as 1563. The plague raged in 1626 and the population dwindled dramatically. Before 1620 there were several years of legal disputes about the acquisition of building land outside the town wall.

In the Thirty Years War Soltau was once again entirely destroyed. All that remained was a great ruin in the landscape and only one building from that time remains. The impact of the war was devastating and it was a long time before the town recovered from its consequences. The traces of the war and the area's occupation by Swedish troops, which began in 1632, is still documented today by the Ellinger Grenzstein ("Ellingen Boundary Stone").

Market rights
Market town
Market town or market right is a legal term, originating in the medieval period, for a European settlement that has the right to host markets, distinguishing it from a village and city...

 and therefore the right to host two fairs a year and a horse market were conferred in 1668. The Old Town Chemist's (Alte Stadtapotheke) was opened in 1796, the first chemist
Chemist
A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms...

 in Soltau.

Soltau first became a garrison
Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....

 town in 1712, a year when the first cloth factory was built.
Napoleonic troops occupied the town in 1803 and turned it into a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 border town for the Kingdom of Westphalia
Kingdom of Westphalia
The Kingdom of Westphalia was a new country of 2.6 million Germans that existed from 1807-1813. It included of territory in Hesse and other parts of present-day Germany. While formally independent, it was a vassal state of the First French Empire, ruled by Napoleon's brother Jérôme Bonaparte...

 in 1810. Soltau belonged to the Canton of Harburg in the Department of Bouches-de-l'Elbe
Bouches-de-l'Elbe
Bouches-de-l'Elbe is the name of a département of the First French Empire in present Germany that survived three years. It is named after the mouth of the river Elbe...

. In 1813 the Lützow infantry
Lützow Free Corps
Lützow Free Corps was a voluntary force of the Prussian army during the Napoleonic Wars. It was named after its commander, Ludwig Adolf Wilhelm von Lützow. They were also widely known as "Lützower Jäger" or "Schwarze Jäger" .-Origins:...

 and cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

s ended ten years of occupation. In 1826 the Old Town Hall (Alte Rathaus) was built on Poststraße.

In 1873 the first railway through Soltau was opened, the line which linked Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 and Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. It was followed in 1901 by the Heath Railway
Heath Railway
The Heath Railway is a regional railway line in North Germany that crosses the Lüneburg Heath from which it derives its name. Most of the line is unelectrified and single-tracked. It links Buchholz in der Nordheide with Hanover, the capital city of Lower Saxony...

 between Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

 and, in 1912, the lines of the East Hanoverian Railways to Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

 and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. In 1885 Soltau became a county town
County town
A county town is a county's administrative centre in the United Kingdom or Ireland. County towns are usually the location of administrative or judicial functions, or established over time as the de facto main town of a county. The concept of a county town eventually became detached from its...

 (Kreisstadt). In 1896 the gas works was built and, two years later, the gymnasium and shooting hall.

On Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve refers to the evening or entire day preceding Christmas Day, a widely celebrated festival commemorating the birth of Jesus of Nazareth that takes place on December 25...

 1906 a fire destroyed St. John's Church which had been mentioned in the records since 1464. It was then rebuilt and is still standing today. In 1911 the Lutheran Church was consecrated, the second Protestant church to be founded, and in 1915 the Catholic Church of St. Mary's followed. A royal officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 riding school was founded in 1913.

Soltau Camp (Lager Soltau), the largest German prisoner-of-war camp
Prisoner-of-war camp
A prisoner-of-war camp is a site for the containment of combatants captured by their enemy in time of war, and is similar to an internment camp which is used for civilian populations. A prisoner of war is generally a soldier, sailor, or airman who is imprisoned by an enemy power during or...

 of the First World War was built in 1914. In the same year the mining of potassium salts (Kalisalz) began at the Heinrichssegen Shaft; it had to be halted ony 4 years later as a result of the war having reached a depth of just 6 metres. From 1934 several Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 units were quartered at Wolterdingen Camp (Lager Wolterdingen) and after the end of the Second World War it was used to house refugees and forced labourers until about 1960. From time to time the front
Front (military)
A military front or battlefront is a contested armed frontier between opposing forces. This can be a local or tactical front, or it can range to a theater...

 reached Soltau. In April 1945, the town was partly destroyed by air raids, in which there were many more civilian victims than military.

That same month, prisoners from concentration camps were able to escape from a railway train that had been stopped in Soltau as the result of an air attack. The prisoners were hunted down by members of the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

, SS and Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

, with the help of several townsfolk, and 92 of them were shot dead. A few townspeople, by contrast, risked their own lives by providing the escapees with food and clothing.
The post-war trials of those who took part ended in acquittals due to the lack of evidence.

Consequently all that could be recorded were several confirmed killings, but not murders.
Since the beginning of 2005 there have been discussions about a memorial
Memorial
A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for memory of something, usually a person or an event. Popular forms of memorials include landmark objects or art objects such as sculptures, statues or fountains, and even entire parks....

 of eight representative stele
Stele
A stele , also stela , is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief , or painted onto the slab...

s from the Berlin Holocaust Memorial for "all victims of the Nazi dictatorship". However an internet survey by the newspaper, the Böhme-Zeitung showed that a majority of those who responded were against the memorial. This caused a furore nationally and gave those in favour of a memorial reason to accuse the opponents of having Nazi sentiments. Nevertheless plans to erect the monument in central locations such as immediately in front of the station could not be carried out. This monument appeared from autumn 2006 to March 2007 in the vicinity of the remote site of the killings in the forest of Sibirien (today a hospital stands on the exact spot). The massive opposition from long-time residents of Soltau is frequently put down by them to the lack of commemoration of the many civilian and military victims from their own ranks, because they are not obviously included in the memorial.

Present


In 1949 Soltau became a British garrison during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and home of Headquarters 7th Armoured Brigade. They were based at the former SS Riding School on the outskirts of town (Reitschule).
The base was the home of 207 Signal Squadron and 11 Ordnance Company. It was the most northerly posting for any British serviceman in BAOR (British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...

), excluding minor outposts like Dannenberg
Dannenberg (Elbe)
Dannenberg is a town in the district Lüchow-Dannenberg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated near the river Elbe, approx. 30 km north of Salzwedel, and 50 km south-east of Lüneburg...

, Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Kiel
Kiel
Kiel is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 238,049 .Kiel is approximately north of Hamburg. Due to its geographic location in the north of Germany, the southeast of the Jutland peninsula, and the southwestern shore of the...

, in what was known as West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

. Armoured vehicles were regularly seen on the streets on their way to the military training area at Lüneburg and the HQ was responsible for the nearby Soltau-Lüneburg Training Area and its associated hutted camp at Reinsehlen. The signal squadron had three troops, two of which were armoured, using variants of the FV432
FV432
The FV432 is the armoured personnel carrier variant of the British Army's FV430 series of armoured fighting vehicles. Since its introduction in the 1960s it has been the most common variant, being used for transporting infantry on the battlefield...

 for telecommunication purposes. The soldiers were given the freedom of the town after returning from the first Gulf War in 1991. They marched through the town to mark the occasion.

The site of the British barracks was the first in Germany to be turned over to private hands in 1993, one year after the withdrawal of British troops. Today the old barracks is a business centre, used for doctors' practices and social institutions. It is also home to the Alte Reithalle ("Old Riding Hall") Event Centre which has become an important indoor event location after its finished restoration in 2003.

In 1972 Soltau became an state-recognised resort and in 1987 was designate as a 'state-recognised town with brine cure facilities'. In the administrative reforms of 1974 16 surrounding villages were incorporated into a new borough. In 1977 the districts of Soltau and Fallingbostel merged into the district of Soltau-Fallingbostel
Soltau-Fallingbostel
Heidekreis is a district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Harburg, Lüneburg, Uelzen, Celle, Hanover, Nienburg, Verden and Rotenburg.-History:...

; Soltau lost its status as the district HQ.

The Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 was opened in 1978; today it is the largest amusement park
Amusement park
thumb|Cinderella Castle in [[Magic Kingdom]], [[Disney World]]Amusement and theme parks are terms for a group of entertainment attractions and rides and other events in a location for the enjoyment of large numbers of people...

 in North Germany, in which inter alia in 2001 it opened the Colossos
Colossos (roller coaster)
Colossos is a wooden roller coaster at Heide Park in Soltau, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the first wooden roller coaster to use prefabricated track. Colossos is the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in Europe and the tallest running wooden roller coaster in the world...

, then the largest and steepest wooden roller coaster
Roller coaster
The roller coaster is a popular amusement ride developed for amusement parks and modern theme parks. LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first coasters on January 20, 1885...

 in the world, and, in 2003, the Scream
Scream (Soltau)
thumb|uprightThe Gyro-Drop Tower Scream is an amusement ride in the Heide Park, Soltau, Germany. With a height of to the pinnacle it is the tallest "gyro drop" free-fall ride in the world....

, the highest drop tower in the world. In 2007 followed the Desert Race ride. Other tourist attractions include the Soltau Thermal Baths in 1990 and the North German Toy Museum
North German Toy Museum
The Soltau Toy Museum , formerly the North German Toy Museum in Soltau originated from a private collection. It was founded in 1984 by Hannelore Ernst....

 in 1994.
In 1988 the Showpalast ("Show Palace") was founded at the Soltau secondary modern school
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

 (Hauptschule); it remains Germany's only schoolchildren's cabaret and has already put on numerous performances at fairs and on television.

In 1998 a retail park
Retail park
In the United Kingdom, a retail park is a grouping of many retail warehouses and superstores with associated car parking. Its North American equivalent is a power centre. Retail parks are found on the fringes of most large towns and cities in highly accessible locations and are aimed at households...

 opened in the Alm industrial estate. From 1996 there were discussions in Soltau about the construction of a 10,000 m² outlet store
Outlet store
An outlet store or factory outlet is a brick and mortar or online retail store in which manufacturers sell their stock directly to the public. Traditionally, a factory outlet was a store attached to a factory or warehouse, sometimes allowing customers to watch the production process like in the...

. The town failed several times in the courts, the last time in 2006 at the Federal Administrative Court of Germany
Federal Administrative Court of Germany
The Federal Administrative Court is one of the five federal supreme courts of Germany. It is the court of the last resort for generally all cases of administrative law, mainly disputes between citizens and the state...

. Protests were led by the surrounding towns of Verden, Rotenburg and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. In 2006 proceedings were begun to obtain permission to deviate from a planning objective which would enable the construction of an outlet centre in spite of the latest rejection. With a change to the state regional development programme in 2008 the establishment of a factory outlet centre in the tourist region of the Lüneburg Heath was finally granted. For the purposes of the town of Soltau, the town of Bad Fallingbostel
Bad Fallingbostel
Bad Fallingbostel is the district town of the Heidekreis district in the German state of Lower Saxony. Since 1976 the town has had a state-recognised Kneipp spa and has held the title of Bad since 5 August 2002. It has close ties to Walsrode, a few miles to the west...

 and the parish of Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 regional proceedings were begun. In February 2009 this process was concluded by the supreme state planning department (State Ministry of Economics) producing a positive outcome for Soltau and a negative one for its two competitors. Construction is due to start in 2010 despite Bispingen launching an appeal. It is due to open in spring 2012.

On 20 October 2004 an earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 shook the region. It had a strength 4.5 on the Richter Scale and its epicentre was in Neuenkirchen. There had been a previous earthquake of strength 4 with an epicentre in Soltau on 2 June 1977.

In 2006 the German Children's Society (Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk) in Soltau and its town marketing project Soltau Playground (spielraum SOLTAU), which intended to launch numerous initiatives to promote the image of Soltau as a child- and family-friendly town, was voted as the model community for the project "Play! Space is everywhere." (Spiel! Platz ist überall).

In March 2007 a concept for the transformation of the town centre was proposed. The Schaper Market, which had been built in the 1970s and lain empty since 2004, a footbridge (locally called the Fenner-Kringel) and a multi-storey car park were demolished in 2008 and the theatre moved to Hagen, so that a new building could be built with a total sales floor of about 4,000 m². The new shopping centre was opened in March 2009.

Population growth



The oldest list of townsfolk in the town book of 1452 enumerates 42 households in Soltau, this represents a good 200 inhabitants based on the conditions of the time. Around 1600 there were about 100 households in Soltau, this corresponds to some 500 inhabitants who lived in about 70 houses. The black death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 raged in 1626 and caused the population to plummet dramatically. After that, the number of inhabitants rose slowly at first; accelerating from 1940. The large increase in 1974 is due to the regional reform and the incorporation of 16 surrounding villages. Following a short drop in the numbers the population grew again in the 1990s and reached its maximum in 2005 at 22,044. According to internal censuses the town has even greater numbers, e.g. in 2001 23,508, but this is mainly due to the inclusion of those with second home
Vacation property
Vacation property is a niche in the real estate market dealing with residences used for holiday vacations . In the United Kingdom this type of property is usually termed a holiday home, in Australia, a holiday house/home, or weekender, in New Zealand, a bach or crib...

s. Since then the numbers have dropped slowly. This trend should stop in the next few years according to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation
Bertelsmann Foundation
The Bertelsmann Foundation is the largest private operating non-profit foundation in Germany, created in 1977 by Reinhard Mohn. The Bertelsmann Foundation holds 77.4 percent of Bertelsmann AG....

. For 2025 the study forecast a population of 21,614.
class="prettytable"> Year Population
1452 ca. 220
1600 ca. 500
1626 ca. 60
3 December 1864 ¹ 2,000
1 December 1890 ¹ 3,419
2 December 1895 ¹ 4,025
1 December 1905 ¹ 4,861
16 June 1925 ¹ 5,723
16 June 1933 ¹ 6,746
17 May 1939 ¹ 8,318
13 September 1950 ¹ 14,560
1 October 1960 14,483
class="prettytable"> Year Population 30 June 1970 15,519 31 December 1972 15,873 31 December 1974 20,189 31 December 1980 18,921 31 December 1985 18,940 31 December 1990 19,714 31 December 1991 20,031 31 December 1995 21,040 31 December 2000 21,906 31 December 2005 22,044 31 December 2007 21,950 31 December 2008 21,831
¹ Population
Population
A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same group or species and live in the same geographical area. The area that is used to define a sexual population is such that inter-breeding is possible between any pair within the area and more probable than cross-breeding with individuals...

 censuses

Culture and places of interest



Churches



There is a number of churches worth seeing in Soltau. These include St. John's, which was first mentioned in 1464. The Lutheran Church was the second Protestant church to be built in Soltau (in 1911) after St. John's had burnt down in 1906 and only a small replacement was built. Other religious buildings are the Catholic St. Mary's Church built in 1915, the Holy Spirit Church in Wolterdingen as an old Gothic heath church dating to 1245, the Heidenhof Chapel built in 1349 and the Zion Church of the Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church
The Independent Evangelical-Lutheran Church is a confessional Lutheran church body of Germany. It is a member of the European Lutheran Conference and a member of the International Lutheran Council . The SELK synod has about 36,000 members in 200 congregations...

 built in 1888.


Museums and leisure facilities



Opposite the equally attractive Old Town Hall in the centre of the town is the building housing the North German Toy Museum
North German Toy Museum
The Soltau Toy Museum , formerly the North German Toy Museum in Soltau originated from a private collection. It was founded in 1984 by Hannelore Ernst....

 with 600 m² of exhibition floor and the Soltau Museum. The latter traces the history of Soltau up to 200,000 ago.

In the surrounding region, the Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 amusement park is very well known. Other facilities are the Soltau Thermal Springs (Soltau-Therme) and the Hof Loh golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

.

Other sights are the Hagen with its drawbridge and the so-called Marriage Well (Heiratsbrunnen), which was built in 1978 by Karlheinz Goedtke, the Waldmühle Library and the Ratsmühle.

Parks, nature reserves and cemeteries


Near the centre of town is the Breidingsgarten, a landscaped park that is under heritage protection. It was laid out around 1850 along English lines and has an area of 11 hectares (27.2 acre). Within the garden, next to a villa built in the Italian style is a ruined building, an old farmstead and fish and ornamental ponds. It is currently in private hands but may still be visited.
Other open spaces in the town include the Böhme Park and the Röders' Park am Halifax. Nearby recreation areas are the Wacholder Park, an area of heath with a sheep shed, the Ahlftener Flatt, a lake from the last ice age, which is popular for ice skating in winter, and the Kuhbach Forest. Around Soltau there are various woods belonging to the Soltau Abbey Forest (Klosterforst) covering a total of 14500 hectares (35,830.2 acre) which is managed by the Soltau Abbey Forestry Department.

In Soltau's vicinity are several nature reserves: the Böhmetal bei Huckenrieth, Ehbläcksmoor and the Schwarzes Moor near Dannhorn.

Soltau has two cemeteries, the town cemetery and the forest cemetery. There are also the ruins of a Jewish cemetery
Jewish cemetery
A Jewish cemetery is a cemetery where members of the Jewish faith are buried in keeping with Jewish tradition....

 in which people were interred from 1721 to 1926.

Culture


The Soltau Cultural Society and the Culture Initiative organise readings and concerts in the town on the Böhme river. Since 2008 the cultural week Zwischenspiel - Das Zelt has taken place annually, with readings, concerts, cabaret and theatre performances in a circus tent. There are also events by the Soltauer Gespräche ("Soltau Talks") and the Soltau Artists House that has admitted writers, painters or musicians since 1995. The Waldmühle Library takes part in the Summer Reading Club Project which is part of the Cultural Secretariat of NRW (Kultursekretariats NRW).

Sport


The oldest sports club
Sports club
A sports club or sport club, sometimes athletics club or sports association is a club for the purpose of playing one or more sports...

 in Soltau is MTV Soltau, which was founded in 1864. Today it offers 16 different activities, of which football is the largest with four men's, a women's, four girls' and 15 boys' teams of all ages.
The second oldest club is SV Soltau, founded in 1912. Here, too, the main activity is football, but there are also many other activities. In 2002 a third football club, SG Inter Soltau, was started, but it disbanded again after a few years.

The oldest tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 club is TC Blau-Weiß Soltau. Founded in 1952, it opened the first tennis courts in Soltau. There is also a second tennis club, TVC Soltau. In 1993 a table tennis
Table tennis
Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net...

 club was started, TTC 93 Soltau.

Pool has been played in Soltau since 1987 at the Pool Billard Sport Club Triangel. The club plays in the highest Lower Saxon league and takes part in several German tournaments.

There is also a Schützenverein
Schützenverein
A Schützenverein is in German language countries a voluntary association featuring sport-shooting either on Olympic levels or historic weapons....

 (shooting club), the Schützengilde Soltau Stadt und Land, which held its first Schützenfest
Schützenfest
A Schützenfest is a traditional festival or fair featuring a target shooting competition in the cultures of both Germany and Switzerland....

s in the 15th century and, since 1741, has had a Schützenfest almost every year.

Soltau has another 20 or so smaller clubs offering around 30 different types of sport.

Sports facilities include an indoor and open-air swimming pool, six sports fields, eight sports halls, a riding hall
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

, a golf course
Golf course
A golf course comprises a series of holes, each consisting of a teeing ground, fairway, rough and other hazards, and a green with a flagstick and cup, all designed for the game of golf. A standard round of golf consists of playing 18 holes, thus most golf courses have this number of holes...

, three tennis
Tennis
Tennis is a sport usually played between two players or between two teams of two players each . Each player uses a racket that is strung to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over a net into the opponent's court. Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all...

 courts, four nine-pin bowling
Nine-pin bowling
Nine-pin bowling is a bowling game played primarily in Europe. European championships are held each year. Over 90,000 members are on teams in Germany, often playing in officially registered Bundeskegelbahnen to be found in almost every sizable town...

 alleys, a ten-pin bowling
Ten-pin bowling
Ten-pin bowling is a competitive sport in which a player rolls a bowling ball down a wooden or synthetic lane with the objective of scoring points by knocking down as many pins as possible.-Summary:The lane is bordered along its length by semicylindrical channels Ten-pin bowling (commonly just...

 alley, squash
Squash (sport)
Squash is a high-speed racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball...

 courts, an inline skating
Inline skating
Inline skating is a recreational sport practiced widely internationally. Inline skates typically have 2 to 5 polyurethane wheels, arranged in a single line. The in-line design allows for greater speed than roller skates and better maneuverability...

 facility, a polo field, a group of ponds for angler
Angling
Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" . The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. The hook itself...

s and 2000 m² of indoor sports hall, the Heidewitzka.

The finals of the German water polo championships took place between 1960 and 1971 in Soltau. In addition since 2004 the Heide Park
Heide Park
The Heide Park Resort is a theme park in Soltau, Lower Saxony. With an overall area of over 850,000 m², it is one of the biggest German amusement parks and the biggest in Northern Germany....

 has been the annual venue for the canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 white water sprint
Whitewater racing
Wildwater canoeing is a competitive discipline of canoeing in which kayaks or Canadian canoes are used to negotiate a stretch of river speedily...

 as part of the Germany Cup. The Heide Park has also hosted, in April 2003, the World Wide Championship of LAN Gaming finals and in September 2006 the German qualifiers for the World Cyber Games 2006
World Cyber Games
The World Cyber Games is an international competitive video-gaming event operated by South Korean company World Cyber Games Inc., and sponsored by Samsung and Microsoft...

 in electronic sports
Electronic sports
Electronic sports comprises the competitive play of video games. Other terms include competitive gaming, professional gaming and cybersports...

 and between 1997 and 2003 the annual pole-sitting
Pole-sitting
Pole-sitting is the practice of sitting on a pole for extended lengths of time, generally used as a test of endurance. A small platform is often placed at the top of the pole.- History :...

 world cup.

Industry


Many industrial and trading companies have settled in Soltau.
There is a wide range of firms in the metalworking and mechanical engineering sphere including: Röders-Tec (high-speed cutting milling machines, blow moulding, pewter), G.A.Röders (die casting, injection moulding, toolmaking), Röhrs AG (plant manufacturing, industrial building, power plant services), Saxlund International (hauling engines, pumps), Nortec (mechanical engineering) and Colt International (technical building protection).
In the food industry are firms like Harry-Brot (bread, cakes and pastries) and H&S Tee Pack Service (teabag packers) and in textiles: Gebr. Röders AG (felt) and Breiding (bedsprings) (founded 1836). In addition the firm of MVG Mathé-Schmierstofftechnik makes lubricants and the Greenpeace Energy Windpark generates electricity.

Trade


Soltau is the headquarters of hagebau (purchasing cooperative for building materials, woode and tile dealers) and JAWOLL (special deals market) and a distribution centre for the firm of Deichmann (shoes).
The building industry cooperative, ZEUS, has its main headquarters in the town as do the cattle and meat merchants of Raiffeisen Viehvermarktung Zentralheide and the SLC Container Terminal with 250,000 containers for Hamburg Harbour
Hamburg Harbour
-External links:* * Port of Hamburg: Facts, figures, and outlook* * Currently under construction in the HafenCity* *...

. From 1923 to the mid-1990s the headquarters of the Edeka
EDEKA
The Edeka Group is the largest German supermarket corporation, currently holding a market share of 26%. Founded in 1898, it consists today of several cooperatives of independent supermarkets all operating under the umbrella organisation Edeka Zentrale AG & Co KG, with headquarters in Hamburg...

 Group was in Soltau; it has now moved to Minden
Minden
Minden is a town of about 83,000 inhabitants in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The town extends along both sides of the river Weser. It is the capital of the Kreis of Minden-Lübbecke, which is part of the region of Detmold. Minden is the historic political centre of the...

.

Banks


Soltau is the base for the Kreissparkasse Soltau bank and, until 2008, for the Volksbank Lüneburger Heide. When the latter merged with the Volksbank Lüneburg, the head office moved to Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. There are also branches of the Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

 and the Postbank
Deutsche Postbank
Deutsche Postbank AG is a German retail bank with headquarters in Bonn. Postbank was formed from the demerger of the postal savings division of Deutsche Bundespost in 1990. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Post in 1999, and was partially spun out on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2004...

.

Education



The first recorded school teaching took place in 1563 in the verger
Verger
A verger is a person, usually a layman, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches.-History:...

's living room. In 1588 the first school building was built by the church in Marktstraße, the first state school followed in 1844. The building in Mühlenstraße still houses the Freudenthal Primary School today. In 1894 townsfolk founded a higher private school. In 1923 a middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 was established.

Today Soltau has three primary schools (Grundschulen), a grammar school
Grammar school
A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching classical languages but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school.The original purpose of mediaeval...

 (Gymnasium) with just under 1,400 children, a middle school
Middle school
Middle School and Junior High School are levels of schooling between elementary and high schools. Most school systems use one term or the other, not both. The terms are not interchangeable...

 (Realschule), a secondary modern school
Secondary modern school
A secondary modern school is a type of secondary school that existed in most of the United Kingdom from 1944 until the early 1970s, under the Tripartite System, and was designed for the majority of pupils - those who do not achieve scores in the top 25% of the eleven plus examination...

 (Hauptschule) and a special needs
Special needs
In the USA, special needs is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological. For instance, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International...

 school (Förderschule).
In addition the charity Lebenshilfe Soltau supports a special needs centre, a kindergarten
Kindergarten
A kindergarten is a preschool educational institution for children. The term was created by Friedrich Fröbel for the play and activity institute that he created in 1837 in Bad Blankenburg as a social experience for children for their transition from home to school...

 for children with speech difficulties, a remedial kindergarten and a creche for early learners.
The Soltau Vocational School (Berufsbildende Schule or BBS) is a combined school with four different streams of education under one roof. There is a grammar stream specialising in economics, a technical high stream (Fachoberschule) for technology and economics, and numerous vocational courses in economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

, technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

, home economics
Home Economics
Home economics is the profession and field of study that deals with the economics and management of the home and community...

, careworking
Homecare
British Gas HomeCare is the name for British Gas Services which operates in the United Kingdom, which was originally set up to provide maintenance for central heating and other gas appliances....

, cosmetics
Cosmetics
Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and...

, gastronomy
Gastronomy
Gastronomy is the art or science of food eating. Also, it can be defined as the study of food and culture, with a particular focus on gourmet cuisine...

, agricultural science
Agricultural science
Agricultural science is a broad multidisciplinary field that encompasses the parts of exact, natural, economic and social sciences that are used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. -Agriculture and agricultural science:The two terms are often confused...

, construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, woodwork, metalwork or hairdressing. About 2,400 schoolchildren attend.

The adult education centre (Volkshochschule) Heidekreis is based in Soltau and Walsrode
Walsrode
-Middle Ages:986 Foundation of Walsrode Abbey by Count Walo. The first recorded mentionof the town is dated May 7, 986.1383 The dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg grant Walsrode a town charter.1479 First recorded instance of Walsrode's coat of arms...

 and currently offers about 930 courses.

The Waldmühle Library is the largest in the district. The Heidekreis music school
Music school
The term music school refers to an educational institution specialized in the study, training and research of music.Different terms refer to this concept such as school of music, music academy, music faculty, college of music, music department or conservatory.Music instruction can be provided...

 is also based in Soltau.

Media


The Böhme-Zeitung daily newspaper has been going since 1864 with a print run of 12,116 copies (2nd quarter 2008). In addition there is the weekly free newspaper, the Mittwoch aktuell, with a circulation of 29,000 and the twice-weekly Heide-Kurier with 44,000 copies.

Rail



Soltau's station, which is still called Soltau (Hannover) (abbreviated to Soltau (Han)) by the Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn
Deutsche Bahn AG is the German national railway company, a private joint stock company . Headquartered in Berlin, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany...

 belongs to the Hanover Railway Division and lies on the America Line
America Line
The America Line is the unofficial name of a railway line in northern Germany which is mainly of regional importance today...

 (KBS 116) from Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 to Uelzen
Uelzen
Uelzen is a town in northeast Lower Saxony, Germany, and capital of the county of Uelzen. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, a Hanseatic town and an independent municipality....

 and on the Heath Railway
Heath Railway
The Heath Railway is a regional railway line in North Germany that crosses the Lüneburg Heath from which it derives its name. Most of the line is unelectrified and single-tracked. It links Buchholz in der Nordheide with Hanover, the capital city of Lower Saxony...

 (Heidebahn) (KBS 123) from Buchholz (Nordheide)
Buchholz in der Nordheide
Buchholz in der Nordheide is the largest town in the district of Harburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 25 km southwest of Hamburg.-Geography:Buchholz is home to the Brunsberg, the region's highest mountain...

 to Bennemühlen(-Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

). There are two other stops - Soltau Nord and Wolterdingen - on the Heath Railway.

Soltau also has a goods station
Goods station
A goods station is, in the widest sense, a railway station which is exclusively or predominantly where goods of any description are loaded or unloaded from ships or road vehicles and/or where goods wagons are transferred to local sidings.A station where goods are not specifically received or...

 (Soltau Süd) in the OHE network with goods traffic links to Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

, Uelzen
Uelzen
Uelzen is a town in northeast Lower Saxony, Germany, and capital of the county of Uelzen. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, a Hanseatic town and an independent municipality....

 and Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

. These routes also used to have regular passenger services. The Lüneburg Transport Society (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verkehrsfreunde Lüneburg) occasionally runs passenger trains on these lines to Celle and Lüneburg under the name Heath Express (Heide-Express).
In summer there is also the Ameisenbär ("Anteater"), a historic Wismar railbus
Wismar railbus
The 'Hanover version' of the Wismar railbus was developed in the early 1930s as a light railbus for economical passenger services on branch lines in Germany.- History :...

 from 1937 that runs from Soltau via Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 to Döhle and back.

The old Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway
Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway
The Soltau–Neuenkirchen railway was a standard gauge line built for the East Hanoverian Railways in North Germany.- History :...

 has now been dismantled. Between 1998 and 2001 there was a roadrailer
Roadrailer
In railroad terminology a Roadrailer or RoadRailer is a highway trailer, or semi-trailer, that is specially equipped for use in railroad intermodal service.- Overview :...

 shuttle from Soltau-Harber to Verona
Verona
Verona ; German Bern, Dietrichsbern or Welschbern) is a city in the Veneto, northern Italy, with approx. 265,000 inhabitants and one of the seven chef-lieus of the region. It is the second largest city municipality in the region and the third of North-Eastern Italy. The metropolitan area of Verona...

 in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 which used to run several times a week for the firm of 'alli-Frischdienst' that used to be based in Soltau. The halt of Harber is now just used as a passing loop
Passing loop
A passing loop is a place on a single line railway or tramway, often located at a station, where trains or trams in opposing directions can pass each other. Trains/trams in the same direction can also overtake, providing that the signalling arrangement allows it...

.

Road


Since 1959 Soltau has had the motorway exits of Soltau-Süd and Soltau-Ost on the A 7 or E 45
European route E45
The European route E 45 goes between Sweden and Italy, through Denmark, Germany and Austria. With a length of about , it is the longest north-south European route...

 autobahn.
Other major roads include the Bundesstraße
Bundesstraße
Bundesstraße , abbreviated B, is the denotation for German and Austrian national highways.-Germany:...

n
B 3, B 71
Bundesstraße 71
The Bundesstraße 71 is one of the longer German federal roads numbered in the 60s and 70s series. It begins at the B 6 in Bremerhaven by the Unterweser and ends in Könnern near Halle in Saxony-Anhalt...

 and B 209
Bundesstraße 209
Bundesstraße 209 is a German federal road that runs from Nienburg/Weser district in Lower Saxony to Schwarzenbek in the district of Herzogtum Lauenburg, Schleswig-Holstein.- Route :...

 and the Landesstraße
Landesstraße
Landesstraßen are roads in Germany and Austria that are, as a rule, the responsibility of the respective German or Austrian federal state. The term may therefore be translated as "state road". They are roads that cross the boundary of a rural or urban district...

, L 163.

As well as the regular regional bus services run by the 'Verkehrsgemeinschaft Heidekreis', which links Soltau with the surrounding towns and villages, there is a free "experience bus" (Erlebnisbus) between July and October through the Lüneburg Heath
Lüneburg Heath
The Lüneburg Heath is a large area of heath, geest and woodland in northeastern part of the state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany. It forms part of the hinterland for the cities of Hamburg, Hanover, and Bremen and is named after the town of Lüneburg. Most of the area is a nature reserve...

, which links the numerous tourist sights in the region. The two routes of the Erlebnisbus have several stops in Soltau and at the Heide Park. In addition the coach
Coach (vehicle)
A coach is a large motor vehicle, a type of bus, used for conveying passengers on excursions and on longer distance express coach scheduled transport between cities - or even between countries...

 line from Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 to Cuxhaven via Magdeburg
Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

 and Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 operated by the 'Berlin Linien Bus-Gesellschaft' stops at the town every day. In the summer there are also direct bus links to the Heide Park from Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, Lüneburg
Lüneburg
Lüneburg is a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. It is located about southeast of fellow Hanseatic city Hamburg. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, and one of Hamburg's inner suburbs...

 and Celle
Celle
Celle is a town and capital of the district of Celle, in Lower Saxony, Germany. The town is situated on the banks of the River Aller, a tributary of the Weser and has a population of about 71,000...

.

Cycling


The long distance cycle paths RFW 4 (Leine-Heath Cycle Path) and RFW 15 (Heath Cycle Path or Heide-Radweg) on the Lower Saxon long distance cycle network intersect in Soltau. In 2003 a cycle path concept was developed and implemented. For example, cycle boxes were erected at the station and the cycle network was expanded. In Soltau there are four Bett & Bike ("bed and bike") places that are recommended by the ADFC as especially "cycle-friendly".

Town council



The council comprises 34 councillors in 6 parties:
  • CDU: 13 seats
  • SPD: 7 seats + mayor
  • Bürgerunion (Townsfolk's Union): 6 seats
  • dps (independent party): 3 seats
  • FDP: 2 seats
  • The Greens: 2 seats
  • The Left: 1 seat

Mayor


The directly elected mayor (Bürgermeister) of the town of Soltau is Wilhelm Ruhkopf (SPD).

Coat of arms



The coat of arms of the town of Soltau shows the lion of the Welf dynasty behind a red city gate. The lion was part of the original town seal from around 1400 as the town belonged to the Dukes of Lüneburg, of the House of Welf. Later the lion was depicted lying on the town gate, since the 19th century it has been depicted behind the gate.

Twin towns


Soltau is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: Coldwater, Michigan
Coldwater, Michigan
Coldwater is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 10,945. It is the county seat of Branch County....

, USA (since 1971) Laon
Laon
Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France.-History:The hilly district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, has always held strategic importance...

, France (since 1972)
  • Osterburg
    Osterburg (Altmark)
    Osterburg is a town in the district of Stendal, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, situated approximately 22 km northwest of Stendal.-International relations:Osterburg is twinned with: Wieluń, Poland...

    , Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     (since 1991) Myślibórz
    Myslibórz
    Myślibórz is a city in north-west Poland, in West Pomeranian Voivodeship. It is the capital of the Powiat of Myślibórz...

    , Poland (since 1997)
  • Grünberg in Schlesien/Zielona Góra
    Zielona Góra
    Zielona Góra is a city in Lubusz Voivodeship, in western Poland, with 117,557 inhabitants within the city limits and 294,000 inhabitants within the metropolitan area, including three neighbouring counties ....

    , Poland
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

    , (since 1997)

Elections


For elections to the Landtag of Lower Saxony, Soltau is part of the constituency of Soltau together with the towns of Munster and Schneverdingen
Schneverdingen
Schneverdingen is a town in the northern part of the district of Heidekreis, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated approx. 15 km north of Soltau, and 50 km south of Hamburg....

 and the villages of Bispingen
Bispingen
Bispingen is a municipality in the Heidekreis district in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the River Luhe and is approximately northeast of Soltau, or south of Hamburg.-Subdivisions:*Bispingen*Hützel*Steinbeck an der Luhe...

 and Neuenkirchen.

For Bundestag
Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...

 elections Soltau belongs to various Bundestag constituencies:
Bundestag election Constituency number Name
1949, 1953, 1957, 1961 36 Harburg - Soltau
1965, 1969, 1972, 1976 30 Soltau - Harburg
1980, 1983 30 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Rotenburg
1987, 1990, 1994, 1998 30 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Rotenburg II
2002, 2005 36 Soltau-Fallingbostel - Winsen L.
2009 36 Rotenburg I - Soltau-Fallingbostel