Krefeld (/ˈkrfɛld, -ɛlt/ KRAY-feld, -felt,[2][3][4][5] German: [ˈkʁeːfɛlt] (listen)), also spelled Crefeld until 1929, is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located northwest of Düsseldorf, its centre lying just a few kilometres to the west of the river Rhine; the borough of Uerdingen is situated directly on the Rhine. Krefeld is accessed by the autobahns A57 (CologneNijmegen) and the A44 (AachenDüsseldorfDortmundKassel).

City Hall

Coat of arms
Location of Krefeld
Coordinates: 51°20′0″N 06°34′0″E
StateNorth Rhine-Westphalia
Admin. regionDüsseldorf
DistrictUrban districts of Germany
  Lord MayorFrank Meyer (SPD)
  Total137.68 km2 (53.16 sq mi)
39 m (128 ft)
  Density1,600/km2 (4,300/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes02151
Vehicle registrationKR

Krefeld is also called the "Velvet and Silk City".

Krefeld's residents speak Hochdeutsch, or standard German, but the native dialect is a Low German variety, sometimes locally called Krefelder Plattdeutsch, Krieewelsch Platt, Plattdeutsch, or sometimes simply Platt. The Uerdingen line isogloss, separating general dialectical areas in Germany and neighboring Germanic-speaking countries, runs through and is named after Krefeld's Uerdingen district, originally an independent municipality.


Early history

Records first mention Krefeld in 1105 under the name of Krinvelde. Uerdingen,

In February 1598, Walburga, wife of Adolf van Nieuwenaar, and last Countess of Limburg and Moers, gave the County of Moers, which included Krefeld, to Maurice, Prince of Orange. After her death in 1600, John William of Cleves took possession of these lands, but Maurice successfully defended his heritage in 1601. Krefeld and Moers would remain under the jurisdiction of the House of Orange and the Dutch Republic during the Dutch Golden Age.[6] The growth of the town began in that century, partially because Krefeld was one of few towns spared the horrors of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). The town of Uerdingen, incorporated into Krefeld in the 20th century, was less fortunate, almost ceasing to exist, destroyed at the hands of troops from Hesse during the Thirty Years' War.

After the death of William III of Orange in 1702, Krefeld passed to the Kingdom of Prussia.[6] The Battle of Krefeld occurred nearby in 1758 during the Seven Years' War. Krefeld and Uerdingen were included within the Prussian Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg in 1815 (after 1822 the Rhine Province).

In 1872 Krefeld became an independent city within Rhenish Prussia. In 1918 during the First World War the Belgian Army used it as a base during the occupation of the Rhineland. In 1929 Krefeld and Uerdingen merged to form Krefeld-Uerdingen; in 1940 the name was shortened to simply Krefeld.

The Mennonites of Krefeld

From 1607 Mennonites arrived in Krefeld, as in nearby Gronau, from neighboring Roman Catholic territories where they were persecuted. They sought refuge in the lands of the more tolerant House of Orange-Nassau, at the time rulers of Krefeld; in 1657 their congregation was officially recognized and in 1693 they were allowed to build their own church, although hidden in a back yard (which still exists, reconstructed after World War II, with about 800 members). Also the Quaker Evangelists received a sympathetic audience among the larger of the German-Mennonite congregations around Krefeld, Gronau, Emden and Altona, Hamburg.[7] In 1683 a group of thirteen Mennonite families (twelve of them Mennonite-Quakers) left Krefeld to re-settle in Pennsylvania in order to enjoy religious freedom. They crossed the Atlantic on the ship Concord,[8] and founded the settlement of Germantown (now incorporated in Philadelphia), invited by William Penn, and thus beginning the Pennsylvania Dutch ethnic identity.[9] The most important Mennonite family of Krefeld were the silk merchants and silk weaving industrialists Von der Leyen who, by 1763, employed half of Krefeld's population of 6,082 in their factories. Their residence, built from 1791, is the current City Hall.

The Jews of Krefeld

Jews were listed as citizens of Krefeld from 1617. In 1764 a synagogue was erected, and by 1812, under French rule, the town included 196 Jewish families, with three Jewish-owned banks. Under Napoleon, the town became the capital for the surrounding Jewish communities including over 5000 Jews, and by 1897 they comprised 1.8% of the population.[10] In 1846 a Jewish representative was voted onto the town's municipal council, while rising antisemitism was noted during these elections.[10] A reform synagogue was built in 1876, arousing opposition from the Orthodox community. A Jewish school existed in the town, with more than 200 students around 1900.[10]

In November 1938 during Kristallnacht, the two synagogues were attacked. In 1941 following an order from Hitler to deport the German Jews to the east, Jews from the town were sent to the area around Riga[11][10] and murdered there.[12] In 1945, the U.S. Army occupied the city and placed Henry Kissinger, then an Army private and later Secretary of State of the United States, in charge of the city administration.[13]

In 2008 a new synagogue, library and Jewish cultural center were erected on the location of one of the demolished synagogues. Around 1100 Jews were reported to live in and around Krefeld at the time.[14]

World War II

On 11 December 1941, during World War II, a detailed report on the transport of Jews from Krefeld and its surroundings listed 1007 Jews from Krefeld and Duisburg, were deported to the Šķirotava Railway Station near Riga, later to become Jungfernhof concentration camp. They were transported in freezing conditions with no drinking water for more than two days.[11] Almost immediately upon arrival they were shot in the Rumbula forest massacre.[12]

On 21 June 1943 British bombs destroyed large parts of east of the city; a firestorm consumed most of the city center (apart from the central train station, which remained intact apart from minor damage). On 3 March 1945 US troops entered Krefeld, among them the later U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

During the Cold War, the city was host to the 16th Signal Regiment of the United Kingdom's Royal Corps of Signals stationed at Bradbury Barracks.[15] The town became part of the new state of North Rhine-Westphalia after World War II.

Points of interest


There are a number of districts in Krefeld. Each has a municipal representative, with representatives chosen by local elections. The districts are:

  • 010 Stadtmitte
  • 020 Kempener Feld/Baackeshof
  • 030 Inrath/Kliedbruch
  • 040 Cracau
  • 050 Dießem/Lehmheide
  • 060 Benrad-Süd
  • 070 Forstwald
  • 080 Benrad-Nord
  • 090 Hülser Berg
  • 100 Traar, pop: about 5,000, postal code: 47802
  • 110 Verberg
  • 120 Gartenstadt
  • 130 Bockum, pop: about 21.903, elevation: 35 m, postal code: 47800 (old: 4150 Krefeld 1)
  • 140 Linn
Linn, with its own history reaching to between 1090 and 1120, was situated on the banks of the Rhine. In Linn, there is a park built around a Wasserburg, a castle built at the water's edge, and with a water-filled moat. The Burg Linn, as the castle is known, has been preserved for the city's residents as a park and museum.[18]
  • 150 Gellep-Stratum
  • 160 Oppum postal code: 47809
  • 170 Fischeln postal code: 47807
  • 180 Uerdingen, pop: about 18,507, elevation: 31 m, postal code: 47829
  • 190 Hüls


Cities and places that were incorporated into Krefeld:

  • 1901: Linn (Stadtrecht since 1314)
  • 1907: Bockum, Verberg und Oppum (all mayoralty Bockum)
  • 1929:
    • Krefeld became an independent city
    • Uerdingen, Krefeld (received municipal law in 1255/1344, added Hohenbudberg in today's Duisburg district Friemersheim)
    • Fischeln, Krefeld district
    • Traar, Krefeld district
    • Gellep and Stratum (in Lank), Krefeld district
    • Forstwald (Vorst), Krefeld district
    • Benrad und Hülserberg (Hüls), Kempen
  • 1975: Locality of Hüls from Kempen (since 1970 integrated and belonged since 1929 to the Kempen-Krefeld district; in 1936 Orbroich had been independent)

Historical population of Krefeld

Year Population
1875 ¹62,905
1 December 1890 ¹105,376
2 December 1895 ¹107,245
1 December 1900 ¹106,928
1 December 1905 ¹110,344
1 December 1910 ¹129,406
8 October 1919 ¹124,325
Year Population
16 June 1925 ¹131,098
16 June 1933 ¹165,305
17 May 1939 ¹170,968
13 September 1950 ¹171,875
6 June 1961 ¹213,104
31 December 1970222,700
30 June 1975230,500
30 June 1980223,400
30 June 1985217,000
1 January 1989235,423
30 June 1997246,800
31 December 2003238,565
31 December 2007240,648

¹ Census data

Largest migrant communities in Krefeld by 31.12.2017 are :


Mayors of Krefeld from 1848

  • 1848–1872: Ludwig Heinrich Ondereyck
  • 1872–1881: Friedrich Christian Roos
  • 1882–1903: Ernst Küper
  • 1903–1905: Wilhelm Hammerschmidt
  • 1905–1911: Adalbert Oehler
  • 1911–1930: Johannes Johansen
  • 1945–1946: Johannes Stepkes
  • 1946–1947: Wilhelm Warsch
  • 1947–1949: Hermann Passen
  • 1949–1951: Hanns Müller (FDP)
  • 1951–1956: Johannes Hauser (CDU)
  • 1956–1961: Josef Hellenbrock (SPD)
  • 1961–1968: Herbert van Hüllen (CDU)
  • 1968–1982: Hansheinz Hauser (CDU)
  • 1982–1989: Dieter Pützhofen, first term in office (CDU)
  • 1989–1994: Willi Wahl (SPD)
  • 1994–2004: Dieter Pützhofen, second term in office (CDU)
  • 2004–2015: Gregor Kathstede (CDU)
  • 2015–present: Frank Meyer (SPD)

City counsellors 1946 until 1999

  • 1946–1949: Johan Stepkes
  • 1949–1964: Bernhard Heun
  • 1964–1986: Hermann Steffens
  • 1986–1988: Alfred Dahlmann
  • 1988–1999: Heinz-Josef Vogt


Krefeld is connected to the Deutsche Bahn network with several stations, including its main station, Krefeld Hauptbahnhof. They are served by Intercity, Regional-Express and Regionalbahn trains. The Düsseldorf-based Rheinbahn operates a Stadtbahn service to the centrally located Rheinstraße stop. This line was the first electric inter-city rail line in Europe, established in 1898, and commonly called the K-Bahn because of the letter "K" used to denote the trains to Krefeld. Nowadays, in the VRR notation, it is called U76, with the morning and afternoon express trains numbered as U70, the line number there coloured red instead of the usual blue used for U-Bahn lines. The term K-Bahn, however, prevails in common usage.

The city of Krefeld itself operates four tramway and several bus lines under the umbrella of SWK MOBIL, a city-owned company. Since 2010, 19 of the oldest trams of the type DUEWAG GT8 were replaced by modern barrier-free trams of the type Bombardier Flexity Outlook. SWK Mobil owns an option to buy another 19 trams of the same type to replace the last 19 DUEWAG M8 trams. The whole tram fleet will then be barrier-free. Next to that the city plans to extend the line 044 in Krefeld-Hüls to connect the northern district of Hüls with the Krefeld downtown area.


The headquarters of Fressnapf, a pet food retailer franchise company, are situated in Krefeld.

International relations

Since 1964,[19] the city has hosted an "honors program in foreign language (German) studies" for high school students from Indiana, United States. The program annually places approximately thirty carefully selected high school juniors with families in and around Krefeld for intensive German language training.[20] Since 1973, the fire services of Krefeld and twin city Leicester have played each other in an annual 'friendly' football match.[21]

Twin towns – Sister cities

Krefeld is twinned with:

Country City County/District/
Netherlands Venlo Limburg 1964
England Leicester Leicestershire 1969
France Dunkirk Nord 1974
Netherlands Leiden South Holland 1974
United States Charlotte North Carolina 1986
Germany Beeskow Brandenburg 1990
Russia Ulyanovsk Ulyanovsk Oblast 1993
Turkey Kayseri Kayseri Province 2009

Notable natives


Writers, poets and journalists:




  • Felix Kracht (1912–2002), aerospace engineer, an Airbus pioneer and former Senior Vice President
  • Werner Voss (13 April 1897 – 23 September 1917), German World War I aviator
  • Emil Schäfer (17 December 1891 – 5 June 1917), German World War I aviator


  • Martin Hyun, German and U.S. hockey player
  • Frank Schwinghammer, a German and Canadian hockey player
  • Philip Hindes, a British sprint cyclist

Knights Cross Holder:



  1. "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden Nordrhein-Westfalens am 31. Dezember 2018" (in German). Landesbetrieb Information und Technik NRW. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  2. "Krefeld". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  3. "Krefeld". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  4. "Krefeld". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  5. "Krefeld". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  6. Ada Peele, Een uitzonderlijke erfgenaam: De verdeling van de nalatenschap van Koning-Stadhouder Willem III, Uitgeverij Verloren, 2013, Germany, pp. 36-39.
  7. C. Henry Smith, Smith's Story of the Mennonites, p. 139 (1981, 5th ed. Faith and Life Press) ISBN 0-87303-060-5
  8. Germantown Historical Society: Founders of Germantown; Jones, Iris Carter: Krefeld Immigrants
  9. C. Henry Smith, Smith's Story of the Mennonites, p. 360
  10. Jews of Krefeld Yad Vashem website. Town citizen Isaac Meyer Fuld, a member of the family of Heinrich Heine, was a prominent bank-owner in Germany at the time.
  11. Report on Jewish Deportation to Riga (Hebrew Translation of German document by Yad Vashem) ,
  12. (German) Gottwald, Fred, and Schulle, Diana: Die „Judendeportationen“ aus dem Deutschen Reich 1941–1945. (The Jewish deportations by the German Empire from 1941 to 1945.) Wiesbaden 2005, ISBN 3-86539-059-5, p.121 I heard that the Jews were evacuated in rows - and as they left the train - they were shot" (Victor Klemperer, diary entry of 13 January 1942)
  13. Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography, p.48.
  14. New synagogue opens in Krefeld (English, Deutsche Welle website)
  15. "Kunstmuseen Krefeld". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  16. "Kunstmuseen Krefeld". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  17. "Herzlich willkommen im Museumszentrum Burg Linn! Besuchen Sie unser Museum". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  18. "History of IUHPFL: About Our Office: Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages for High School Students: Indiana University". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  19. "404 Page Not Found: Error: Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages for High School Students: Indiana University". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  20. Brown, Tom (31 July 2013). "Twin towns: Do we still need them?". BBC East Midlands Today. BBC News. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
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