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Contemporary history

jemgum emsperrwerk schiff meyer werft 10

After the end of the Second World War, during which the harbor and shipyard sites of Emden and Wilhelmshaven in particular suffered from the extreme bombardments, Ostfriesland became occupied by the British. In the Netherlands, there were considerations to annex some regions of Germany, especially Ostfriesland came into consideration. The Netherlands was particularly interested in the Dollart, the mouth of the Ems and Borkum, to cut off the harbour of Emden from sea travel. But these plans failed due to the resistance of the Western Allied Forces.

Since 1946, Ostfriesland is part of the new founded Land of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). According to the local reform in 1972, many smaller municipalities with (in some cases) only a few hundred inhabitants were joined to greater communities in Ostfriesland. In 1978, the Regierungsbezirk (Government district) of Aurich, which enclosed Ostfriesland, joined with the districts of Osnabrück and Oldenburg to form a common district Weser-Ems. All districts were dissolved in 2004. Today, in Ostfriesland the Ostfriesische Landschaft (East Friesian landscape) is responsible for cultural matters.

After the end of the war, thousands of displaced persons from the former eastern German regions were accommodated in Ostfriesland. The reconstruction required a long time, especially in Emden. At the beginning of the sixties there were still barracks in the harbor town because living-space still was scarce.

The agricultural sector employed less and less people. The industry was established, but this sector was unable to employ the necessary number of people. The same problem arose for the service sector – except for tourism. So, for decades East Friesland suffers from above-average unemployment rates.

The probably most important industrial site of the region is the Volkswagenwerk Emden which started its operation in 1964. The shipyards of Emden, especially the Nordseewerke, employed several thousands of persons in the sixties. In Aurich, in 1984 Enercon was founded – the producer of wind energy plants today employs app. 7.000 persons, among them app. 2.000 at the headquarters at Aurich; it has become the second greatest industrial enterprise of Ostfriesland.

The greatest company of the service sector in Ostfriesland is the Bünting group at Leer, a trade company with app. 6.000 employees; not all of them are working in Ostfriesland. Since around the middle of the 1980s, Leer faces a boom in the shipping company sector, which has made the town become the second greatest site of shipping companies in Germany (after Hamburg).

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