Nienburg and Oldenburg
Nienburg, where August was born, is a small medieval town on the Weser River, one of the complex of rivers that course through the flatlands and marshes of Lower Saxony to North Sea. Its half-timbered buildings are set in a landscape of farms and windmills.
At the time of August's birth, Nienburg was a town in the Duchy of Oldenburg. At the center of the Duchy is the town of Oldenburg, where his father, Johann Heinrich was born, and where August went to study music.
This map was obtained from the Oldenburg city website.
Oldenburg is situated on a natural ford across the river Hunte, another of the complex of rivers. It is one of the oldest settlements in the Northwest region of Germany. It received its charter as a town in 1345. However, most of the medieval buildings in the town were destroyed in a great fire in 1676. Today Oldenburg is an important industrial town, which benefits from its central location as a crossroads between the Ruhr and the estuaries of the Weser and the Ems, and the large port cities, Emden and Hamburg.
Oldenburg was unique in lacking a real aristocratic class. At various points in its history it had liberal sovereigns, and was spared much of the destruction and disruption that vsited the plains of Northern Germany from medieval times through the Thirty Years War to World War II. It has benefitted both from its strategic location as a communication route and from its rich agricultural hinterlands. In 1829, the year August was born, Paul Friedrich August (died 1853) became Grand Duke of Oldenburg. He was a major patron of the arts, as well as a political moderate, who granted his Duchy a constitution in 1849, despite the fact that the civil unrest that plagued the rest of Europe in 1848 had not touched Oldeburg.
Thus August was born into a land where his interests in music and literature, and his inclinations towards civic responsibility and humane discourse, could be nurtured.
Copyright Virginia Utermohlen 2001
Updated December 29th, 2001