Port of Karlsruhe
Review and History

The Port of Karlsruhe sits to the north of the Black Forest near the Rhine River in southwestern Germany in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. It is the home of the German Federal Constitutional Court. The Port of Karlsruhe exports products made in the city, including building equipment, pharmaceuticals, paper, electrical and machinery products, and vehicle parts.

After World War II, a nuclear reactor and research center were established there. Today, the Port of Karlsruhe’s Institute for Transuranium Elements works with the Europe’s Atomic Energy Community to protect the continent from radioactive dangers. It is also home to several oil refineries with dedicated port facilities. In 2006, over 286 thousand people called Karlsruhe home.

Port History

In 1715, Karl Wilhelm built a castle that became the central point of a fan-shaped town (Karlsruhe means “Karl’s retreat”). Until 1771, it was capital of Baden-Durlach and, until 1945, the capital of Baden. In 1970, about 4500 people lived in the Port of Karlsruhe.

The Port of Karlsruhe held the first parliament building in Germany, the Standehaus, which was built in 1822. The republican government was elected at the Standehaus after the democratic revolution. The Port of Karlsruhe became home to two of Germany’s highest courts, and the city boasted its position as home of justice in Germany after 1933.

Attracted to the city by its lack of discrimination, Jews settled there since its beginnings. Germany’s first chief rabbi was from Karlsruhe. In 1783, Margrave Carl Friedrich issued a decree that released the Jews from serfdom, allowing them to live where they wanted to and freeing them from the “Todfall” tax. The government published regulations in 1808 raising the chief rabbi of Karlsruhe as the spiritual head of Germany’s Jews. Anti-Jewish sentiments did exist in the Port of Karlsruhe, however. Riots in 1819 and demonstrations in the 1840s and 1880s brought persecution to the Jewish community.

By 1933, more than 3300 German Jews lived in the Port of Karlsruhe, and their community owned property throughout the city. During the infamous Kristallnacht, their synagogues were destroyed. Jewish men were sent to the Dachau concentration camp, but those who showed proof of their intention to emigrate were released. Almost 900 Jews were sent to Auschwitz in 1942. Between 1933 and 1945, over a thousand of the city’s Jews were killed. Modern Karlsruhe is home to about 900 Jewish citizens, most of them immigrants from Russia.

The city contained several neoclassical buildings designed by Friedrich Weinbrenner that, while destroyed during World War II, were restored after the war. Allied bombs made a pile of rubble of the downtown area. After the war, the Port of Karlsruhe was a US Army base that also contained a French garrison. The Army base remained until the mid 1990s.

The Port of Karlsruhe was commissioned in 1824 when construction of a canal to the Rhine was approved. The first steamer docked in the old Schrock Rhine Port in 1830, which was renamed Leopoldshafen in 1833. A railroad to Maxau was opened in 1862, and the city created the Karlsruhe Rhine Port at Maxau that year.

The city council approved construction of the modern Port of Karlsruhe in 1896, financed largely by the Baden State government. The new Rhone Port was opened to traffic in 1901, and it handled more than 280 thousand tons of goods in 1902. A record of one million tons of goods was reached in 1911. In 1923, the Rhine Port was occupied by French troops who imposed bans on exports and seized much cargo, bringing the port to a halt.

In 1928, the port handled over two million tons of goods. The south dock was opened in 1934, and the oil dock was finished in 1935. The port saw a new high in cargo in 1941, handling about three million tons of cargo. Heavy bombing of the Port of Karlsruhe came in 1942 when 73 people were killed and over 700 were injured. Many port facilities and the grain store were destroyed.

Wharf operations started again in 1945, when the Port of Karlsruhe handled almost 560 thousand tons of cargo. By 1948, throughput reached one million tons, and a reconstructed wharf and grain store opened in 1950. Europe’s biggest fluorite preparation works was finished in 1952. Two million tons of cargo passed through the Port of Karlsruhe in 1955.

In 1962, cargo through the port surpassed four million tons, and the new oil terminal opened in 1963. From 1967, city-operated handling operations have been leased to the Kalag-Karlsruher Lagerhaus und Speditionsgesellschaft mbH.

A new cargo-handling record was reached in 1969, when eight million tons of cargo passed through the Port of Karlsruhe. The container terminal was opened in 1982, linking the Port of Karlsruhe to mainland transportation routes and ports in the Netherlands and Belgium. Roll-on/roll-off operations began in 1987, and the container and roll-on/roll-off terminal was expanded in 1992. A new corn-drying operation and a logistics hall were opened in 1998.

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