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History of the city Sassnitz

The city of Sassnitz originally consisted of two separate communities, the fishing village Sassnitz (present-day „Alt Sassnitz“) and the farming village Crampas (present-days area around the shopping center „Rügen-Galerie“). Both locations have Slavic names, still it is unclear whether they already existed in the Slavic Period. Crampas was first named in a document in 1398, the name Sassnitz, from what is known today, appears only in 1584.

A first, detailed description of both locations is made by the Swedish field survey in 1695. Here, Crampas was described as a courtly „Kronhof“ – whereas Sassnitz is described as a fish storage of the department of Bergen. In contrary to other locations on the Jasmund peninsula, that were referred to mostly as hamlets (meaning they consisted of two to four houses per village), Crampas was a small village of alleys, and Sassnitz was referred to as a “dead end-village“(or „Schluchtendorf“), regarding the village being situated in a gorge. With a household of seven families, Crampas already was a larger town in proposition to other villages on the Jasmund pensinula. With a household of thirteen families during the Swedish field survey, Sassnitz even was the second largest village after Sagard. Only the heads of the household were registered, the population counted about five family members per family. However, after 160 years Sweden´s reign finally came to an end after the signing of the contracts of June 4th and 7th in 1815, and the acquisition of Swedish-Pomerania and Rügen by Prussia.

Two important events regarding the development of both locations took place in the beginning of the 19th century. In 1820, the Royal government reorganized Crampas and redivided its properties (2 „Halbbauer-“ and 11 „Büdnerstellen“). These properties were sold or leased-out to the inhabitants of Crampas in 1822, making Crampas an independent, political community – Sassnitz only followed 22 years later. In 1842, Prussia had acquired Sassnitz from the widow of businessman Christoph Bernhard Wallis from Stralsund, whose family had owned it for years. That´s how Sassnitz again became state property under domanial administration. In 1844, through acquisition the landlords now owned free property, and also Sassnitz became an independent, political commune.

A first heyday for both villages came in the 186os. Baltic Sea tourism and, in the following, the construction of hotels, pensions, office buildings, etc. made both Crampas and Sassnitz grow closer together, so that around 1900 the border between both villages could not be recognized anymore. The logical consequence was the merging of both communities into one, the Sassnitz community, on April 1st in 1906.

Already in the last third of the 19th century, Sassnitz and Crampas developed new sources of income for citizens and non-locals, apart of the tourism industry. Above all, the chalk industry, the harbour, and the railway (that was invented in 1891) offered numerous job opportunities. Therefore, especially the social structure of the inhabitants changed. Following the construction of new houses, Sassnitz got the sight of a proper city. In addition to that, the use of Sassnitz as a Navy location, particularly during the NS regime, substantially changed its appearance.

The bombing of Sassnitz on March 6th 1945 marked a dark day in local history. The harbour, overcrowded by refugees that were waiting in trains and on ships to move, was the main target, and there were many victims.

A significant development took place after World War II. Due to the massive renovation of the fishing industry, consisting of fishing and fish processing, Sassnitz lived through a second heyday. Thousands of job opportunities were created, leading to a significant increase in the number of inhabitants. From 1945 until 1976 the number of citizens rose from 5,452 to 15,108. Sassnitz grew and now had all characteristics of an urban location. After numerous attempts, on January 1st 1957 Sassnitz was finally declared a city. Since then, until the 1980s, larger housing areas like the (Erwin-) Fischer-Ring, Wilhelm Pieck-Ring (todays Gerhard Hautmann-Ring), Rügener Ring and Mukraner Strasse were built. A last industrial boom took place following the construction of the ferry port in the district of Mukran, with a connection to the ex-Soviet city Klaipeda.

The political change brought change also to Sassnitz: The liquidation of the „VEB Fischfang“ fishing company and the loss of Sassnitz´s crucial importance regarding the ferry traffic to Scandinavia had a strong impact on the city, especially concerning the job market and, therefore, the number of inhabitants. The city of Sassnitz refocused on its touristic traditions. The historical center of the town was renovated and the villas, that had been left to decay for decades, and former hotels were restored and reused for touristic activities. Also the harbour went through a fundamental change from fishing and ferry harbour to a maritime-touristic port. In 1998, Sassnitz became a state-approved resort. Following the development of the Jasmund national park in 1990, the „Stubnitz” forest area, also the surrounding region went through a touristic “upgrade”, with its peak being the recognition of parts of it as a UNESCO world heritage.