|In earlier days of the city,
its motto was “The world city with a heart.” In
recent times, that was changed to Munchen mag Dich (“Munich
likes you”). In common with much of Europe, Munich has
a long history that has its share of violence. The city must
have started out peacefully because it is on a site where a
monastery existed in the 8th century. The city gets its name
from Munichen, meaning monks in High German. The village grew
around a church next to a
bridge over the river Isar. In an obvious complement to capitalism,
an early settler, Henry the Lion built a bridge over the river in
the early 1100s to earn money from traders passing through. One
of the city’s first-ever conflicts erupted when a competitor
built a second bridge. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had to settle
the conflict by dividing up trading and currency rights.
Munich was granted city status in 1175 and shortly after became
fortified. Germany’s king in 1314, Duke Louis IV, chose Munich
as his home. Soon after, most of the city was destroyed by a fire,
but it was rebuilt with new fortifications. During the 16th century,
Munich became a center of renaissance arts. Duke Wilhelm V at the
same time created the Hofbrauhaus for brewing brown beer. About
one third of the city’s population a few years later died
from the bubonic plague. Also around that time, Munich suffered
the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War.
In the 18th century, the city once more was engulfed in the winds
of war during the many Napoleonic conflicts. But this was also a
time when Munich became a real European city with monumental architectural
works. King Ludwig I was an enthusiastic patron of the arts and
collected works that formed the nucleus of Munich’s two best-known
museums, the Glyptothek and the Alte Pinakothek. Many of Munich’s
finest building were built in the early 1800s including neo-classical
structures that still characterize the city today.
Just before World War I, the city became home to many artists and
writers such as Thomas Mann. During World War I, three French bombs
fell on Munich and there was a period of unrest after Germany surrendered
to the allies. In 1923, Adolf Hitler and his supporters -- many
of whom were concentrated in Munich -- attempted their famous and
failed Beer Hall Putsch in an effort to overthrow the Weimar Republic.
Munich was a stronghold of the Nazi party when Hitler took power
in 1933. But Munich was also the headquarters of the White Rose,
which was a group of students who during the early 1940s attempted
to overthrow the government. The city was hit by 71 air raids during
World War II, which reduced it to a pile of rubble.
Munich was also the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics when a disastrous
hostage rescue attempt led to the death of five Israeli team members.
Today, the revived city is prosperous enough to have been called
Germany’s “yuppie city.” The town is one of Germany’s
main centers of high-tech and media industries. It has also become
famous for its concentration of TV stations and film studios, as
well as other cultural elements. The city is headquarters to well
over 300 book and newspaper publishers, giving it a concentration
of media found nowhere else in Germany.