Augsburg City Hall, built between 1615 and 1620 and described as the most important secular Renaissance building north ot the Alps
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About City Mayors
||Dr Paul Wengert
Mayor of Augsburg, Germany
More than any other, Augsburg’s Mayor Paul Wengert has one guiding principle by which he lives: “Develop the city with the citizens”. The city belongs to the citizens, says Mayor Wengert, and for that reason, they have to be included in the development of their immediate living space.
The strengthening of civic commitment and reinforcement of the sense of responsibility for the community are two objectives, but also simultaneously prerequisites that make the integration and peaceful cohabitation of the various cultures and generations and the lasting development of the city possible in the first place.
Since taking office in 2002, Mayor Wengert has been hard at work for the “Citizens’ City”. In addition, the “Augsburg Alliance” was founded in 2003, which organised extensive aid in 2005 for the victims of the Asian tsunami catastrophe. Thanks to the dedication and activities of its citizens, Augsburg was the first city in the world to deliver aid to the devastated region, and it continues to do so today on a permanent basis.
The 53-year old politician and attorney has been a member of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) since 1972. Following high school and military service, he studied law, economics and theology, and in 1979 he completed his first bar exam with honours. After receiving his doctorate and the successful completion of his second bar exam, Mayor Wengert went on to work for eight years as a judge and District Attorney.
From 1990 to 2002, he was the Mayor of Füssen, located at the foot of the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle. In 2002, Mayor Wengert was elected Mayor of Augsburg, Bavaria’s third-largest city with a population of 270,000, and the second-oldest city in Germany, with a history stretching back over 2,000 years.
Since taking office in Augsburg, he has been successful in achieving his most important aims in the politics of the city. These consist on the one hand of the advancement of education and culture, civic commitment and maintaining social harmony in his city, home to a population made up of people from 120 nations. Simultaneously, his other primary focus has been the promotion of modern industry and securing the jobs associated with it, with particular emphasis on mechanical engineering, aeronautics and astronautics, environmental technology, IT and communications technologies.
To this end, in 2005 Mayor Wengert initiated the “Augsburg Alliance for Jobs”, in which the highest representatives of the chambers of commerce and the unions work together with him on developing specific measures for safeguarding and creating job and vocational training opportunities.
He also pays special attention to the universities and research institutions in his city. Since 2002, Mayor Wengert has governed with a majority in the City Council consisting of the SPD, the Greens, the “ÖDP” (Ecological Democratic Party) and the “Freie Bürger Union” (Free Citizens Union) a centre-left coalition in a German federal state governed for decades by a markedly more conservative majority of the Christian Social Union (CSU).
Mayor Wengert is a member of the European Congress of Regional and Local Authorities, the Steering Committee and the Legal and Constitutional Committee of the German Association of Cities and Towns, and the Management Board of the Bavarian Association of Cities and Towns. In addition, he is a member of the worldwide organisation, Mayors for Peace.
It was from among the citizens in the “Augsburg Alliance” that aid for the victims of the tsunami emanated, with an Augsburg-based action group consisting of some 35 organisations, bodies and initiatives. One of the project groups from Augsburg is working closely with the authorities in Banda Aceh on developing the infrastructure of a local administration.
Donations of some 200,000 Euros have been made, gathered as a result of various collection and donation campaigns undertaken by local residents. The money has been transferred through the Indonesian equivalent of the Cities and Towns Association, and applied in a goal-oriented, sustainable manner. This has included donations to date of 30,000 Euros to the children’s aid organisation, PLAN, for educational projects. Additionally, 22,000 Euros have gone to the complete reconstruction of one hall, The Fire Department received 3,000 Euros, 1,000 Euros was allocated to supporting a student scholarship campaign and 15,000 Euros went to the reconstruction of an orphanage in Sri Lanka.
“This form of aid is not interfering. Instead, it demonstrates great sympathy on the part of Augsburg’s citizens for the well-being of the residents of Indonesia, and it is being implemented in close cooperation with the City Council in Banda Aceh“, stresses the Mayor. Citizens are taking responsibility for other citizens regardless of whether they are in Augsburg or elsewhere in the world.
This sense of responsibility must nevertheless be actively aroused and promoted. In light of the problems additionally posed by globalisation for cohabitation in the communities, EU integration, social and societal changes and the increasing disillusionment of the general public with politics, for Mayor Wengert it is of crucial importance to speak directly to the citizens, to include them and work with them to prepare the city for the future.
His view of politics is not that of a self-serving end unto itself or a mandate to rule. Instead, elected officials are there to shape the environment the people live in conscientiously on behalf of all the citizens. And where better can the citizens themselves be directly included in this development if not locally? Civic participation is not a tiresome duty for Augsburg’s Mayor, but rather the guiding principle for his political activity in the community. Decisions are not only directed towards the needs of the citizens, but also prepared and discussed together with them in a collaborative process. The platform for this is provided by the “Augsburg Alliance”, initiated by Mayor Wengert.
Integration is made possible in the first place by the civic commitment of local citizens and their acceptance of individual responsibility for their city and the people who live in it. The objective is the creation of a climate of mutual respect, open-mindedness, tolerance, acceptance and an attitude of openness toward the world.
Creating the environment together means, above all, shaping a city’s social interaction in a sustainable and peaceful manner. A rapidly “aging society” on the one hand, and growing social permeability on the other, combined with an increasing cultural and religious diversity in the population, demand that a city’s society is capable of integration. The integration challenges involved are diverse, not only affecting the integration of immigrants with their cultures and religions, but also that of the different generations, social classes or sexes.
Augsburg as a City of Peace
In 2005, the city celebrated the 450th anniversary of the ‘Peace of Augsburg’, a treaty marking the beginning of peaceful cohabitation of Catholics and Protestants. The peaceful cohabitation of cultures and religions remains a burning topic throughout the world today.
How can the faithful from different religions live peacefully together? How can understanding, tolerance and acceptance be created? Augsburg’s citizens have posed this question to themselves in some 900 events, and to academics from all over the world in various symposiums. These are questions requiring answers from the world’s leading churches, but above all at local level, particularly in a city where one-third of its 270,000 are immigrants.
Peaceful, intercultural cohabitation in Augsburg is promoted through integration and language projects in the “Augsburg Alliance”, and through specific measures undertaken in the schools and in the various city districts.
Augsburg as an Environmental City
Peace has many facets. And the obvious importance of peace among different peoples should also apply to peace with nature. A view of nature and the environment as being of value is a prerequisite for mutual respect and tolerance among people. This is why another primary focus of the Mayor and his policies for the city is dedicated to the advancement and expansion of environmental technologies and protection.
Augsburg’s ‘Agenda 21’ team has been working at the core of these concerns since 1996, based on the resolutions of the Rio Earth Summit for sustainable, future-oriented development. The city joined the Rio Accord and accepts the aims of the Rio conference and the subsequent conference for the protection of Earth’s atmosphere. Augsburg is the German city with the most natural gas-fuelled vehicles, and the first city in Bavaria to have prepared an “Air Purity Plan”.
The plan has been implemented with the aim of attaining its objectives for the reduction of particulate matter, CO2 and nitrogen oxides with the consistent expansion of the city’s public transportation facilities. The city is also currently developing a “City Logistics Concept” to direct and manage its commercial traffic in an ecological way. With the “Augsburg Environmental Competence Center”, the city and the Mayor are also applying their focus on research and technology to the topic of the environment.
Augsburg as a Cultural City
2021 years old, Augsburg is Germany’s second-oldest city and home to a rich cultural heritage. It was from here that the Fugger family conducted its trade throughout the world; here is where Hans Holbein Sr. painted; Bertolt Brecht was born in Augsburg; and the family of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived in the city for centuries until his father Leopold moved to Salzburg shortly before the birth of his famous son. In 2006, Germany’s ‘Mozartstadt’ Augsburg celebrates the 250th birthday of the composer with the International Leopold Mozart Violin Competition and the 55th German Mozart Festival.
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany has assumed patronage of the Mozart Jubilee Year in Augsburg. Important buildings from the Renaissance and the Rococo periods shape the historic appearance of the city, where not just the preservation of this cultural heritage is of importance, but also the development of a vibrant culture incorporating local cultural diversity into the daily lives of the city’s residents. For Mayor Wengert, culture today is an important factor in the city’s role as an economic centre in the competition between neighbouring cities and regions; but more importantly, it is a factor for integration integration of the diversity of the different cultures, and consequently, the people from the various cultural circles.
Augsburg is also a city in which residents and guests love to celebrate in style including festivals enjoying international esteem. In 2006, these celebrations include the 55th German “Mozartfest” and the 6th Leopold Mozart Violin Competition in honour of the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Brecht Festival, marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Augsburg-born dramatist Bertolt Brecht, Pax2006, a celebration of peace in remembrance of Augsburg’s religious peace treaty, signed 451 years ago.
This has all been supplemented by the opening of four new, or in some cases, extensively renovated museums, the historic “Bürgerfest” (Citizens’ Festival), numerous street festivals and local city district celebrations and large-screen public viewing of the Football World Cup matches at two of the city’s prominent squares.
Dr Paul Wengert, Social Democrat Mayor of Augsburg since 2002
Dr Paul Wengert
Born on 18 November 1952 in Ellwangen (Baden-Württemberg). He has been married to his wife Bärbel since 1977 and they have two daughters, Susanne (born in 1979) and Milena (born in 1982). His hobbies include hiking, cycling, skiing, sailing and singing.
• 4 years of elementary school at the Volksschule in Ellwangen
• 9 years Peutinger Gymnasium (grammar school) in Ellwangen
• 1972 university-entrance diploma at Peutinger Gymnasium, Ellwangen
• 1970 to 1972 editorial staff member of the newspaper, ‘Aalener Volkszeitung/Ipf- und Jagstzeitung’
• 1972 to 1974 military service
• 1972 joined the SPD political party
• 1974 to 1979 university studies of law, economics and theology at the Bavarian Julius-Maximilians-Universität in Würzburg
• 1979 first legal bar exam
• 1979 to 1980 academic staff member at the Local Government Studies Research Center Würzburg
• 1982 Second legal bar exam, conferral of doctorate in criminal and civil law
• 1982 to 1983 Criminal Law Judge at the Augsburg District Court
• 1984 to 1987 District Attorney (Augsburg Superior District Court Office of the District Attorney)
• 1984 to 1990 Member of the Municipal Council of Horgau
• 1987 to 1990 Augsburg District Court Judge
• 1990 to 2002 Mayor of the City of Füssen
Since 1 May 2002 Mayor of the City of Augsburg
Current active functions and memberships:
• Member of the Management Board of the Bavarian Association of Cities and Towns
• Member of the Steering Committee and Vice-Chairperson of the Legal and Constitutional Committee of the German Association of Cities and Towns
• Member of the European Congress of Regional and Local Authorities (European Council)
• Vice-Chairperson of the Allgäu/Bayerisch Schwaben Tourism Federation
• Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of AVA
• Chairperson of the Supervisory Board of Stadtwerke Holding GmbH and Augsburger Verkehrs-GmbH
• Chairperson of Augsburger Zoo GmbH
• Chairperson of the Administrative Board of Stadtsparkasse bank institute Augsburg
• Vice-Chairperson of the Administrative Board of the Hospital Administration Association Union of Augsburg
• Chairperson of the Administrative Board of Hessingklinik and Hessingpark-Clinik
• Chairperson of the Administrative Board of Klinikum Augsburg.
Paul Wengert has repeatedly been the recipient of awards and distinctions for his activities on behalf of sports, music, firefighting matters and social issues.