Sonneberg, the world toy city in Thuringia

Tuesday, 18 July 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
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German Toy Museum © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de

German Toy Museum © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de

Sonneberg in Thuringia, Germany, is the seat of the Sonneberg district. It is in the Franconian south of Thuringia, neighboring its Upper Franconian twin town Neustadt bei Coburg. Sonneberg became known as the “world toy city”, and is home to the German Toy Museum and the Sonneberg observatory, founded in 1925. The Thuringian Slate Mountains border the city, with the Franconian Forest to the east.

The term “world toy city” was coined around 1913 due to the share of Sonneberg’s production on the world market. Before the First World War, around 20% of the toys traded on the world market in the Sonneberg area were mainly manufactured at home. In addition to the term world toy city, Sonneberg advanced to become the “workshop of the Santa Claus”. From the 1870s onwards, the toy industry did not respond to increasing demand and falling sales prices with a transition to industrial production in larger factories using innovative techniques. Even if exports to the US rose by around 600% between 1865 and 1885, in 1880 85% of the companies had just four employees. It was the number of these traditionally working small and micro-businesses that increased tremendously in response to the increased demand. In 1880 there were a total of 321 companies. 1899, almost 20 years later, 2395, an increase of 746%.

One of the heydays of the toy industry led to the development of the station square with representative buildings in the 1920s. First, the US company Halbourn built a six-story trading house that has been owned by the AOK since 1925. Opposite it, in 1926, the American department store company F. W. Woolworth Company, which had been purchasing locally since 1880, built a trading and warehouse for the purchase and export of toys and Christmas tree decorations. The five-storey reinforced concrete building with its own siding was built according to plans by the Sonneberg architect Walter Buchholz.

© Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de Old Town Hall © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de German Toy Museum © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de Town Hall © azrahel/cc-by-sa-3.0
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German Toy Museum © Störfix/cc-by-sa-3.0-de
In divided post-war Germany, Sonneberg found itself within the borders of East Germany, cut off from its large neighbouring town of Coburg, Bavaria in West Germany and could only face north economically. It was served by an unnaturally winding railway route and thus became somewhat isolated from the rest of East Germany. Sonneberg Hauptbahnhof is served by the Coburg–Sonneberg line.

After the fall of the Wall, toy shops were privatized or re-privatized, if they still existed. In 2002 the Thuringian Day took place in Sonneberg. The city became a member of the European metropolitan region of Nuremberg in July 2012, initially on a trial basis, and has been a permanent member since October 2013.

The 14th Franconian Day was celebrated on July 6 and 7, 2019 by the district of Upper Franconia together with the Bavarian state government and the two host cities Sonneberg and Neustadt bei Coburg for the first time across borders with over 25,000 visitors under the motto: GEMEINSAM.FRÄNKISCH.STARK (“TOGETHER.FRANKISH.STRONG”).

Sonneberg is a location with a close network with hydrogen initiatives in the metropolitan region of Central Germany and it is a member of the European metropolitan region of Nuremberg. Thus, Sonneberg has a “hinge function” to the important economic areas between the Main and Elbe. The HySon Institute for Applied Hydrogen Research emerged in February 2021 from a network of actors from business and science. There are 50 partners in total. Their common goal is to close the gap between research and application.

On 25 June 2023, for the first time since the end of the SED dictatorship in 1989, a member of the AfD, classified by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as “right-wing extremist”, was elected district administrator. Almost 100 years earlier, the NSDAP had already had an easy time attaining absolute majorities on a regular basis. Apparently, the people in the district said “tradition obliges” and “all good things come in threes” and therefore, ignorantly and oblivious to history, wanted to give the AfD’s enemies of Germany, the EU, democracy and the constitution a chance. Even if it is striking how amazingly successful the blue-brown party is in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg, it is mainly because of some weaknesses in the democratic parties, whose approaches to solving given challenges do not seem to catch on. The AfD itself has no party program apart from hate and hate speech, so it is not elected because of content and although it is fascist, but because it has no party programm and is fascist. The democratic parties, especially the CDU, are even helping the AfD to some extent. Anyone campaigning for the brown original ensures that the original is elected. The AfD phenomenon and problem is not purely East German. According to researchers, the same voting behavior can be observed in similar or the same social and societal, communal environments in the West. However, fortunately, it is still a long way to comparable meltdowns in the West, and that is the good news: the spread can be successfully contained. Schleswig-Holstein is a very successful example. The increasing radicalization in East Germany, coupled with a good portion of self-victimization, has the tragi-comic side effect that the perceived disadvantage in economic terms leads to actual setbacks through their own fault, because which decision-maker in their right mind would make investments in jobs in East Germany knowing that he could neither convey nor expect his own specialists to have to work and live in such an environment. A company cannot pay that much “bush money” without suffering economic damage itself. In addition, Germany is one of the world’s export champions. How should a company persuade its non-German (potential) customers to buy its own products if they are manufactured in an environment that is hostile to foreigners, what even the international press has repeatedly outlined? There aren’t that many masochistic customers who say “they hate us, but that’s exactly why we buy their products”.

Read more on Sonneberg, Sonneberg district, Wikivoyage Sonneberg and Wikipedia Sonneberg (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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