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History of Enschede

Enschede in 1570

Enschede is a city located in the utmost Eastern end of the Netherlands, just minutes away from the German border. The early history of Enschede is for the most part unknown, but it is widely believed that there were inhabitants in medieval times around the location of the Old Marketplace. City rights were granted right around the year 1300, although they were not officially confirmed until 1325.

Like many other cities of the time, Enschede’s houses and buildings were mainly constructed of wood, which greatly increased the risk of fire damage. And indeed, the city was the scene of catastrophic fires in 1517, 1750 and 1862.

Right after the final major fire, industry boomed in Enschede with textiles leading the way. One of their specialties was a unique blend of cotton and linen, which struck it big in terms of exports.

During World War II, like many other cities throughout Europe, Enschede fell under German control. In fact, due to its close proximity to the German border, it was one of the first to do so. Although the majority of the Jews in the city were killed by the Germans, Enschede in fact had more survivors than most other Dutch cities.

Enschede also saw more than its share of Allied bombing missions during World War II because the Germans had set up a major command center there. It was eventually liberated by Allied troops, most of who were from Canada on April 1, 1945.

The city took a major hit in the 1970’s when its textile production came to a screeching halt, largely in part due to overwhelming competition from Far Eastern countries. In fact, the city careened downhill to the point where they had to declare bankruptcy.

Despite the fact that the city went through a period of rough economic times, in recent years it has undergone somewhat of a resurgence. Major department stores and shopping centers have popped up. The Old Market Square often features live music, a variety of events and many other activities during weekends.

Enschede is also home to the University of Twente, one of only three technical universities in the country. Further, the university is the only large campus college in the nation. While Enschede has seen more than its share of rough times, it is still able to maintain a rich cultural tradition. And thousands of people from around the world visit the city every year.