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Rostock - a Success Story from the East

BY CHRISTOPHER POLLITT

Rostock is the largest town in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern which is one of the so-called 'New Bundesländer' which made up the former German Democratic Republic. The university in Rostock is not only one of the oldest in Germany but also in the world and has rather a grand history. Rostock is one of the success stories from the former East Germany and has managed to attract industry and manufacturing back to the town.

© Deutsche WelleRostock the Hanseatic city at the Baltic Sea ist famed for its medical research

Rostock as a research location

The University of Rostock is the third oldest in Germany and a number of famous minds have graced its hallways. The Nobel laureates Karl von Frisch and Albrecht Kossel as well as the current German president Joachim Gauck were all at the university at one point in their careers. The university is, of course, made up of a number of faculties providing opportunities in all disciplines, but the real focus for research in the town is in the applied sciences.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the Fraunhofer Institutes for applied sciences make a good showing here, with the institutes for Computer Graphics Research and Large Structures in Production Technology being found in the town. The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and four Leibniz Institutes including those for Catalysis, Atmospheric Physics and Baltic Sea Research add even more variety in the academic landscape.

Finally, Rostock is also famed for its medical research and is home to the research and teaching hospital, The University Clinic of Rostock. The hospital runs a number of enterprises, chief among them being the Albrecht Kossel Institute of Neuroregeneration.

History

Rostock can trace its origins back to the 11th century when it was a settlement for Slavic settlers and the name of the town comes from the Polabian language meaning 'where the river becomes wider'. This original town was then burnt down but was re-established by merchants later in the 12th century. The town gradually grew and became an important town for the construction of ships. However, Rostock lost its influence over the new few hundred years due to continual clashes with the local duke who tried to force the citizens to recognise to his authority. Eventually in 1573, the question of who held the power in Rostock was resolved and stability once again reigned until the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War.

In the 20th century, Rostock has also been through peaks and troughs, as it has seen it's once great port bombed to the ground by Allied raids. At the end of the war, it found itself in the occupied yone of Germany under Soviet administration and became the engine room for manufacturing goods in the GDR. After reunification, however, it once again saw an economic downtown as production and a large number of its residents moved to the west.

Living in Rostock

As with most towns in former East Germany, house prices and living costs are low in Rostock. This, of course, means that if you are earning a decent wage, there is huge potential for a high standard of living. As with any large town, there are of course also plenty of great bars, restaurants and shops to keep its residents busy too.

Rostock's economy is largely based on tourism and as such there are a number of great sights and pass times for visitors and residents alike. Much of the town was originally built in the Gothic style and there are a number of buildings that have survived as prime examples of this kind of architecture such as the Kerkhofhaus and St. Mary's Church. There are also a number of concert halls, museums and theatres to keep anyone busy of an evening. The University of Music and Theatre puts on a number of performances throughout the year but there also numerous concerts at the multiple churches in the town and the Volkstheater.

What Rostock is known for

Rostock is one of the Hanseatic cities which means it belonged to the Hanseatic League in the late Medieval and Early Modern periods. Originally this was a commercial confederation which also supplied military support to its members if one of them was attacked. Now, the title does not mean anything concrete, but it is one of a number of coastal cities still proud of their position in this historic group and still is home to a large and busy passenger and trade port. Rostock is also home to the Hanse Sail festival when ships of all ages and sizes gather in the Baltic around the city's port. This is famous throughout the region, as is the music festival Ostsee-Jazz which attracts some first-class performers. Rostock is truly a town that is succeeding in shaking off the common problems and stereotypes faced by cities in the former GDR and is thriving culturally, economically and academically.


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academics :: June 2013