Gelsenkirchen is a town inhabited by 260,000 residents and located near the western border of Germany, in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Although it is 1,100 km from Olsztyn, the relationship between both towns is very close, since they are based on historical influence and on the currently developed partnership as well.
Gelsenkirchen is inhabited by many descendants of the Warmiaks who emigrated "in search of bread" (meaning: in search of work) to the industrialized cities of the Ruhr District at the beginning of the XXth century. Among the residents, there are also many people who used to live in Olsztyn. Nowadays, the relation between both cities is built on the cultural, sport, and educational levels.
Bridges of understanding between cities
The first official negotiations between the city councils started just after 1989. The Association of Former Olsztyn Inhabitants "Allenstein", which operates in Gelsenkirchen, had been greatly interested in the future of their previous hometown. One of the first issues that particularly brought the city communities together was the renovation and reconstruction of Saint John of Nepomuk's monument on the bridge over Łyna.
The partnership agreement between the cities was signed in 1992. This initiative is commemorated by the naming of the communication passage connecting the Saint John's Bridge with Szrajbera Street as Gelsenkirchen Alley.
The companionship of the united Europe
Years of partnership resulted in further activities such as the erection of a memorial tablet on the house in which Erich Mendelsohn (1887-1953) was born and lived . This tablet is to commemorate his achievements.
The current cooperation between the cities is mainly based on sharing cultural achievements and school exchanges. During these exchanges, young people have the opportunity to participate in education and sport activities, meet their German peers, visit cities, become accustomed with the local art, or just try some of the regional delicacies. Later on, they return the favour to their guests from Gelsenkirchen.
Being a significant element of the European integration, the partnership between Olsztyn and Gelsenkirchen brings together the communities of both towns and helps further develop the friendly relationship between them.