Portsmouth celebrates 70th anniversary with Duisburg

Portsmouth is this week celebrating 70 years of twinning with Duisburg in Germany.

The partnership is the second oldest Anglo-German twinning which aimed to unite two similar cities with shared experiences after the Second World War.

More than 70,000 people have been involved with the partnership over the years. The cities have exchanged music, art and sport, and many groups have visited the cities since 1950. There have been more than 140 official visits and 500 personal trips be, and 65 Lord Mayors have been involved.

Cllr Rob Wood, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, said: “The relationship between Duisburg and Portsmouth continues to provide both our cities with a deep sense of friendship and pride, new experiences for our residents and visitors, and rich and vibrant cultures shared with our friends in Germany. We are immensely proud of our twinning with Duisburg and look forward to continuing our relationship for many more years to come.”

Sören Link, Lord Mayor of Duisburg, said: “Indeed, over time we have grown closer together and I am grateful for the bond of friendship that has developed since 1950, which I can now experience personally and help fill with life.”

To celebrate the anniversary, Portsmouth City Council has shared a short video about the history of the partnership voiced by the Lord Mayor and an online photography exhibition to showcase 70 years of friendship between the cities.

One photograph (also above) shows Portsmouth architect Jon Orrell meeting Holocaust survivor Rolf Heusner in Duisburg earlier this year. Jon’s father fought in the Second World War, boarding his landing craft in Southsea on the morning of D-Day. He later became a peace campaigner and his wish was to have a beer with a German and make peace.

Jon said: “Meeting Rolf was something really special and very moving, which completely took me by surprise. My father, a D-Day Veteran who passed away just after the 60th Anniversary of D-Day (in fact we all felt he was hanging on for the event), had always wanted to enjoy a drink with one of the German soldiers that he took prisoner in the War. He never managed it so, for me, meeting Rolf was almost a fulfilment of Bob’s last wish and was so special for me and Rolf. I hope we may meet again.”

Portsmouth residents can also visit Duisburg virtually with a series of tours and links of the city. Later in the year, Portsmouth City Council will also plant a tree and Forget-Me-Not flowers, the German symbol of peace, dedicated to the 70th anniversary.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development at Portsmouth City Council, said: “It’s important to celebrate our long-standing relationship with Duisburg and remind our residents of its continued importance for our city.

“Twinning relationships build bridges between communities, acting as a catalyst for communication links and relationships between people of differing and similar backgrounds who are geographically distant. With twinning we aim to promote our links to people of Portsmouth to enable them to meet people from different cultural groups and societies, promote participation with groups in activities such as arts, sports and education, and develop mutual economic benefits such as tourism and language studies, where possible.

“We are proud of our twinning with Duisburg and the relationships that continue to be developed over 70 years. I am looking forward to continuing our work together.”

Find out more about the celebrations at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/duisburg.