Coat of arms

Coordinates: 53°01′14″N 07°51′31″E / 53.02056°N 7.85861°E / 53.02056; 7.85861Coordinates: 53°01′14″N 07°51′31″E / 53.02056°N 7.85861°E / 53.02056; 7.85861
Country Germany
State Lower Saxony
District Cloppenburg
  Mayor Sven Stratmann
  Total 247.14 km2 (95.42 sq mi)
Population (2015-12-31)[1]
  Total 21,918
  Density 89/km2 (230/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 26169
Dialling codes 0 44 91
Vehicle registration CLP

Friesoythe, in Saterland Frisian language Ait or Äit, is a town in the district of Cloppenburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the river Soeste, approximately 25 km northwest of Cloppenburg, and 30 km southwest of Oldenburg.


Friesoythe shares a diverse culture in Lower Saxony history. Many cultural influences of German, Anglo-Saxon, Dutch, East Frisian, Danish and Swedish culture are noticeable in the town and citizens. The town has a large following of Roman Catholicism and small percentages of Calvinism and Lutheranism. It was part of the Prussian empire and also under rule to the French Empire in the 18th century.

Member states of the German Empire (Prussia shown in blue).
The French Empire in Europe in 1812, near its peak extent.

Second World War

In April 1945, the town of Friesoythe felt the full force of an attack by the 4th Canadian (Armoured) Division, under General Christopher Vokes. Most of the town's population of 4,000 moved out to the surrounding countryside on about April 11–12, 1945.[2]

The town was defended by some 200 paratroopers of Battalion Raabe of the 7th German Parachute Division.[3] These paratroopers repelled the first attack by the Lake Superior Regiment (Motor) on April 13. The Lake Superior Regiment suffered two dead and nineteen wounded. German casualties are not known.

Vokes ordered the resumption of the attack the next day by The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's) commanded by Lt. Col. Frederick E. Wigle. The attack went well, with the Argylls securing the town by 10:30 hours. However, at 08:30 a small number of Germans caught Wigle's tactical headquarters by surprise; resulting in the death of Wigle and several other soldiers.[4] Lieutenant Alan Earp also survived a direct shot through the head.[5]

Vokes determined on an immediate reprisal. "A first-rate officer of mine, for whom I had a special regard and affection, and in whom I had a particular professional interest because of his talent for command, was killed. Not merely killed, it was reported to me, but sniped in the back".[6] Vokes then announced his draconian decision. “I summoned my GSO1 . . ‘Mac,’ I roared at him, ‘I’m going to raze that goddam town.’”[7]

Individual units and soldiers of the Argylls had spontaneously begun the arson of Friesoythe by way of revenge for the death of their colonel,[8] but after Vokes issued his direct order, the town was systematically set on fire by means of flamethrowers mounted on Wasp Carriers. The destruction was massive. According to German estimates, 85% to 90% of the town was destroyed in the course of this reprisal, making it one of the most devastated towns in all of Germany at the time.[9]

21st century

Friesoythe has grown from a village to a small city and shares old traditional and modern style build buildings of German architecture, Bauhaus, Victorian style, Renaissance and Barok style. Large multinational companies are settled giving the city a modern appearance and lively feeling. Hospital, schooling, bus and train service, health service are all available in the city centre. The city has good communication and infrastructure and many American Germans and Polish, Russians integrated.

Sons and daughters of the city

People related to Friesoythe



  1. Landesbetrieb für Statistik und Kommunikationstechnologie Niedersachsen, 102 Bevölkerung - Basis Zensus 2011, Stand 31. Dezember 2015 (Tabelle K1020014)
  2. The Friesoythe Amtsgericht, or District Court, was closed on April 11th. If the District Court ceased to function on April 11, 1945, the evacuation of the bulk of the civilian population probably took place between April 11th through April 12th 1945. It was clearly a German and not a Canadian initiative. Ferdinand Cloppenburg, Die Stadt Friesoythe im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert, 173.
  3. War Diary, General Staff, 4th Canadian Armoured Division, 1 April 1945-30 April 1945. Appendix 38; dated April 14th, 1945. National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, ON, RG 24, vol. no. 13794. Intelligence report signed: E. Sirluck, Capt.
  4. Mark Zuehlke, On To Victory: The Canadian Liberation Of The Netherlands, p. 308
  5. War Diary, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, April 14, 1945, pp. 10-11. Ottawa, ON, Canada. National Archives of Canada, RG 24, v. 15,005. The same entry for April 14th, 1945, is also reprinted in Robert L. Fraser's Black Yesterdays; the Argylls’s War, p. 431. Interview with Alan Earp.
  6. All the published accounts relate that Col. Wigle was shot in the back. However, Dr. Doug Bryce, the Medical Officer of the Argylls, said that he was shot in the head. Dr. Bryce thought very highly of Wigle (“the most wonderful man I have ever met”) so his version has to be given credence on various grounds. Interview with Dr. Bryce, May 11, 1998.
  7. Chris Vokes, Vokes: My Story, 194-195. A substantially identical account of Vokes and his role in the destruction of Friesoythe is found in Tony Foster’s Meeting of Generals, 437.
  8. Robert L. Fraser, Black Yesterdays; the Argylls’ War. See the section entitled “The Burning of Friesoythe?” on pp. 435-437.
  9. Ferdinand Cloppenburg, Die Stadt Friesoythe im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert, pp. 165, 189; Brockhaus. Die Enzyklopädie. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1996. 20. Aufl. V. 7, p. 730.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.