Duesseldorf origins date back to the 7th century, when Germanic tribes settled along the small Düssel River near the Rhine. By the middle ages, Duesseldorf had formally established itself as a city and it flourished as a capital for both industry and the arts until the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. The city struggled under Napoleonic rule, but again found its footing after being placed under the jurisdiction of the Prussian Empire, right on the heels of the Industrial Revolution.
The 20th century saw the city’s destruction and rebirth beginning in World War II when it was considered a key target for the Allied Forces in Germany. Following the War, Duesseldorf experienced tremendous reconstruction and subsequent growth and has developed into one of West Germany’s most important cities. Today, the city makes up the heart of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area, which consists of over 12 million people. In addition to its role as the capital of the German State Nordrhein-Westfalen, Duesseldorf is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies and is world renowned for its convention center, architecture and high standard of living. Major industries in the area include fashion, advertising and banking.
Duesseldorf enjoys a steady stream of both business and holiday visitors throughout the year. The climate in the region is characterized by relatively warm summers and cold winters. Duesseldorf’s major geographical feature is undoubtedly the Rhine River, which is still used as an important transport route for cargo ships to this day. Outside of the city’s urban center are a number of well developed suburbs and areas that make up the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area. Less than 60 kilometers west of Duesseldorf lies the Netherlands, with the city of Eindhoven just over an hour away via car.
Getting Around in Duesseldorf
Like a majority of German cities, Duesseldorf is well serviced by an efficient public transportation system consisting of subways (U-Bahn) and trams (S-Bahn). However, it’s extensive reconstruction and development in the 20th century has resulted in an infrastructure that also supports road traffic. As such, taxis and car rentals are also viable means of transportation in and around the city’s metropolitan area.
Both the city’s main train station (Hauptbahnhof) and airport are connected to the public transportation network, which makes travelling to Duesseldorf’s city center a breeze. The area between the city’s main train station and many of its riverside attractions (Rhine promenade, Old Town, Konigsallee) are within a moderate walking distance, providing tourists with a number of options when it comes to transportation.
Duesseldorf’s public transportation system is operated by the VRR (Rhein-Ruhr Transport Association). Travel tickets are available at most transport stations through ticket machines which include an English language option. Ticket prices are dependent on a number of factors such as travel area, travel time and duration of the week (e.g. 1 day, 1 week). Typical day passes covering metropolitan Duesseldorf start at 5.70 Euros per day.
Main Attractions, Sights and Things to do
This all-pedestrian promenade along the Rhine is full of lively restaurants and shopping. Visitors can watch ships pass along the river while enjoying traditional German dishes. Completely reconstructed following World War II, the promenade enjoys modern conveniences and is popular with both visitors and locals. Leisure river cruises along the Rhine depart from the promenade on a regular basis and tickets can be purchased from marked ticket stalls. The closest public transport station to the Rhine Promenade is Heinrich-Heine-Allee U-Bahn Station.
Altstadt (Old Town)
Rebuilt following damage sustained in World War II, Duesseldorf’s Old Town retains an authentic charm and is also known as ‘the longest bar in the world’ due to the fact that it contains over 300 bars and restaurants. Popular with sightseers and shoppers during the day, the neighborhood begins to buzz as night falls and the restaurants fill with customers.
Aside from sampling German cuisine, the Altstadt is home to a few cultural attractions as well. The Museum Kunstpalast is right on the northern border of Aldstand and includes an impressive collection of artwork that consists of paintings from the 15th to 20th century along with modern artwork, sculptures and glassware. The Duesseldorf Film Museum as well as a number of art galleries and collections are also located within the Altstadt.
To reach Düsseldof’s Old Town through public transportation, take the U-Bahn to either Tonhalle/Ehrenhof or Heinrich-Heine-Allee station.
North of metropolitan Duesseldorf, Kaiserswerth is one of the city’s oldest suburbs. Along with its quaint, old world charm, the area’s largest attraction is the Kaiserpfalz. Built in 1052, the ruins of the complex still sit along the Rhine and are open to visitors. The castle was made the temporary seat of the Holy Roman Empire shortly after its construction and was taken over by a series of conquerors over the following centuries.
Though badly damaged, the castle remains as a reminder of the past centuries and entrance onto the grounds is free of charge.
Duesseldorf’s tallest building has an observation floor open to visitors. At over 170 meters, the Rhine Tower boasts unparalleled views of the city and the glories of the countryside of the surrounding region.
Schloß Jägerhof and Goethe Museum
The former Jägerhof residence is now home to an eleven room museum with the main focus being the life and works of Goethe. As well as his works there are also many of his inspirations and muses, and the rooms take you on a chronological journey through his lifetime. The museum also has a reference library open to public use containing more than 21,000 books.
The nearest public transport is the eponymously named tram station nearby.
Originally built in the 1920s as a planetarium, Duesseldorf’s Tonhalle is the city’s premier concert hall. Characterized by a large arching dome, the venue plays host to classic and contemporary acts from around the world throughout the year. Under the 38 meter dome are over 1800 audience seats, in addition to a stage and orchestra pit. Concerts and events are held almost on a daily basis and the concert hall can easily be reached through public transport via the Tonhalle U-Bahn Station.
Rheinhafen Center of Arts and Media (Frank Gehry Buildings)
In an effort to revitalize its harbor district, Duesseldorf enlisted the help of famed architect Frank Gehry to construct three separate buildings in the area. Today, the formerly abandoned industrial zone has been transformed into a stunning example of post-modern architecture. Gehry’s distinctive style using rolling curves and interesting angles can be seen throughout his three structures at the Medienhafen.
According to the architect himself, the three adjacent buildings act as one singular structure. However, each complex was built with a different facade material, providing a unique personality to the buildings. This revitalized area of Duesseldorf stands as the city’s new symbol for growth and prosperity. Over 700 companies including the Hyatt Hotel and a riverside golf course now call the neighborhood home.
To visit Frank Gehry’s buildings, take the S-Bahn to Volklinger Straße or Duesseldorf-Hamm Station.
Schloss Benrath (Benrath Palace) and Park
Behind the bright pink facade of this former hunting lodge is an impressive interior complete with rococo accents, marble floors and glass chandeliers. A proposed candidate for induction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 18th century palace is flanked by a shimmering lake in the front and an expansive garden in the back, both of which are open to the public.
The palace features three main wings, all of which contains their own theme. One wing houses the city’s Natural History and Local History Museum. Established at Schloss Benrath in the late 1920s, the museum focuses on the natural history of the surrounding Lower Rhine region and covers topics such as native flora and fauna as well as neanderthals. The second wing of the palace is the European Garden History Museum. With over 2,000 meters of floor space, visitors to the museum can witness the evolution of European garden styles starting with the ancient Greeks and Romans through to the Italian Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods. The third part of the palace is its central structure, which maintains its period details from its days as a hunting lodge. Called the Museum Corps de Logis, the structure was influenced by the nature and architecture.
Duesseldorf and it’s neighbor Cologne have enjoyed a healthy rivalry for quite some time. Just a 25 minute ride on Germany’s efficient ICE train will take visitors from the heart of Duesseldorf to the absolute center of Cologne. Stepping out of the station, tourists will be greeted by the formidable Cologne Cathedral as well as a number of museums and shops.
Shopping in Duesseldorf
Luxury shops and chic cafes cover this street just inland from the river. Both locals and tourists stop by Konigsallee to visit outlets from luxury brands such as Cartier, Burberry and Tiffany. Along the 1 km long avenue are a series of arcades containing well-known fashion retailers, specialty shops and bakeries. To reach Konigsallee via public transport, take the U-Bahn to either Heinrich-Heine-Allee or Konigsallee Station.
Adjacent to Konigsallee, Schadowstraße is also known for its excellent shopping facilities. The beautiful Schadow Arkaden is a wonderful example of a modern German shopping mall featuring a number of specialty shops selling clothing, jewelry and household goods in addition to cafes, restaurants and bakeries. The closest U-Bahn Station to Schadowstraße is Heinrich-Heine-Allee.
Home to a substantial population of Japanese immigrants, the area in and around Immermannstraße is full of Japanese shops where visitors can find a great selection of Japanese goods, clothing and fashion. It’s also the city’s best bet when it comes to restaurants serving sushi and other Japanese cuisine. Conveniently, Immermannstraße is located adjacent to Duesseldorf’s main train station.
Eating out in Duesseldorf
Like any international city, Duesseldorf has a wide selection of restaurants and bars. The city’s Old Town has its largest concentration of eateries and is a best bet for tourists wanting to try out local Rheinisch cuisine. Beer is also a must-try while in Duesseldorf, which lays claim to its own brew known as altbier (old beer). Altbier is served at most restaurants throughout the city. Asian food is plenty available including Thai food.
Brauerei Zum Schiffchen
This restaurant and brewery in Old Town boasts over 350 years of history and includes Napoleon as one of its past patrons. Serving a full menu of traditional Rheinisches dishes and boasting a full beer garden, there’s no better place to get a feel for the local cuisine and culture. Highly recommended dishes include braised beef, pork knuckle and liver dumplings.
Berens am Kai
As popular as roast beef and beer gardens are in Duesseldorf, the city is not without its fine dining options. Located within the new Medienhafen district, Berens am Kai features Michelin star chef Holger Berens, who focuses on creating excellent continental and European dishes. Set lunch menus begin at 45 Euros, with dinner dishes starting at 30 Euros.
Nightlife in Duesseldorf
St. James Club – Lounge
The recently opened St. James Club and Lounge represents a sophisticated side to Duesseldorf’s nightlife. Located in the trendy Medienhafen neighborhood, this über cool night spot hosts theme nights ranging from Femme Fatale to Imperial Russia, along with an extensive champagne and cigar menu. The club serves food until 3am and also offers membership to frequent visitors. To reach St. James Club via public transport, take the S-Bahn to Volklinger Straße.
Stahlwerk is one of Duesseldorf’s most popular discotheques and features a large space and a state-of-the-art sound system. Featuring everything from techno to 90s hits, Stahlwerk doubles as a concert and comedy venue as well. It is within walking distance from the U-Bahn Station Ronsdorfer Straße.
Anything of local interest
With such a substantial Japanese population, Japan Day is a highlight of the Duesseldorf cultural calendar. Known as Japan’s capital on the Rhine, the day is highlighted by a fireworks show over the river. Other activities include cultural presentations and the serving of traditional Japanese foods such as sashimi, sushi and tempura.
Rheinkirmes (Rhine Carnival)
The Rhine River has played a central role in the region’s history for over 1000 years, so it’s only fitting that Duesseldorf and its neighbors celebrate the Rhine with a carnival each year. Rheinkirmes typically occurs in July and lasts for 9 days. During this time, the areas along the river in Duesseldorf are packed with carnival rides, food stands and other attractions. The festivities are capped off by a fireworks show over the Rhine.
Fly to Duesseldorf
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Where to stay in Duesseldorf
Hotels Dusseldorf: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Motel One Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof||★★★|
|Maritim Hotel Düsseldorf||★★★★|
|carathotel Dusseldorf City|
|HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS DUSSELDORF - CITY|
|Living Hotel De Medici||★★★★★|
|Leonardo Hotel Düsseldorf City Center||★★★★|
|me and all hotel düsseldorf||★★★★|
|Business Wieland Hotel||★★★|
|Auszeit Hotel Düsseldorf - das Frühstückshotel - Partner of SORAT Hotels||★★★|
|Holiday Inn Düsseldorf City – Toulouser Allee||★★★★|
Wirecard : How Jan Marsalek Friend Henry O’Sullivan became “Corinna Müller”
The Briton Henry O’Sullivan is regarded as the dazzling puller of many Wirecard deals and friend of Jan Marsalek and internal emails show how big his influence was in the company.
Henry O’Sullivan celebrated his 40th birthday in paradise. He invited lawyers, managers and high-ranking executives from Wirecard to the lonely dream island of Benguerra off the coast of the East African state of Mozambique. Board member Jan Marsalek and his girlfriend should also come.
As a souvenir, the host wanted: pens for the school children in town and champagne for the party weekend.
The luxury resort Azura Retreats, which O’Sullivan rented in November 2014, had cabins right on the beach, palm trees, and a beach. On arrival, the guests would have to wade through knee-deep water as the British businessman’s assistant warned a month before the celebration. That wasn’t a problem for Jan Marsalek. He preferred to travel by helicopter anyway, according to an email from his secretary.
The extravagant birthday plans reveal a lot about two of the central key figures in the Wirecard scandal. Jan Marsalek (40) and Henry O’Sullivan (46) are close confidants who worked together on big deals far away from the headquarters in Aschheim. Now the judiciary is asking whether millions have been diverted. Wirecard is insolvent and Marsalek is on the run.
O’Sullivan does not answer inquiries. At the beginning of 2020, he only wanted to talk to the examiners from KMPG and EY under certain conditions but then he was no longer available to them.
The beefy Brit was known for his dissolute lifestyle. In Singapore he often dined in a top restaurant on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with a view over the harbor. To save time on business trips, he preferred to travel short distances by helicopter instead of taxi and in the meantime he lived on a yacht in Monaco.
Marsalek had O’Sullivan flown in in 2014 to celebrate with him at the Munich Oktoberfest. A year later they flew through South Africa in the Learjet 45XR. And when the Briton wanted to meet the Wirecard executive board in Jakarta in 2014, he asked an Indonesian employee by email about a hotel that would tolerate the “type of spring break business trips”.
Beyond its luxury life, only fragments of O’Sullivan’s businesses are known. The Briton did not hold an official position at Wirecard. Many consider him a “phantom” in the background, a member of the mysterious clique around Marsalek.
It was stored in the Wirecard address book with an external e-mail address for freelancers – his profile photo showed Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord: another bad joke by Jan Marsalek, as insiders suspect.
As much as O’Sullivan was on business trips, he was always careful to be discreet. This is also shown by an episode from spring 2020, when the Wirecard world was already falling apart and auditors examined the opaque third-party business for which Marsalek was responsible.
O’Sullivan was very knowledgeable about third party business and a strange company purchase in India in 2015. He was therefore a sought-after discussion partner for the annual auditors from EY and the special auditors from KPMG. O’Sullivan apparently managed to convince the supervisory board of a special protective measure.
A sought-after discussion partner for EY and KPMG
O’Sullivan demanded at the end of April or beginning of March 2016 that his name should not be recorded in the “final report” or in any other correspondence with Wirecard. “These papers have a habit of appearing in public,” he wrote to an assistant at Marsalek. He assumes that “everything that is written will ultimately be read by others” and he therefore insists on being given a pseudonym.
This is how Mr. O’Sullivan became Mrs. Müller. On March 4, a legal advisor to the Supervisory Board wrote to Wirecard management: “As discussed yesterday, a code name should be used for all further e-mails and other references. Proposal: ‘Ms. Corinna Müller’. ”On the same day, EY agreed not to use the name in communication with Wirecard international.
According to supervisory board circles, however, it was clear: There should be no special treatment in the confidential internal audit report, and O’Sullivan’s real name would have been mentioned here.
But it did not get to that. According to the “Wall Street Journal”, the special auditor KPMG was cross: O’Sullivan had also made the condition of their auditors anonymous. When they refused, he refused to speak.
He could tell so much in the process. In the ten years before the bankruptcy alone, Wirecard acquired companies for 1.2 billion euros, according to insolvency administrator Michael Jaffé. In his report, Jaffé writes that the deals were one reason for the “enormous consumption of liquidity in recent years”. The public prosecutor is investigating former executives on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust.
O’Sullivan was involved in numerous Wirecard deals. His name is linked to one of the largest and most dubious deals the payment service provider has done in recent years: the takeover of the Indian Hermes group in 2015. Wirecard bought the companies from the Mauritius-registered fund Emerging Markets Investment Fund 1A (EMIF 1A) for 326 million euros. The amazing thing: the fund had only acquired the same company and assets a few months earlier for around 35 million euros and it is still not clear who was behind that deal
Marsalek stated in an interview with Handelsblatt at the beginning of 2020 that he had not checked the background. But insiders report that O’Sullivan and Marsalek were the ones who planned the deal and who ultimately benefited from it. In any case, the original Hermes sellers now feel cheated. They filed a lawsuit that revealed that it was O’Sullivan who negotiated the sale to the EMIF 1A fund for € 35 million.
The central figure in Senjo was also O’Sullivan, even if he did not hold an official position. A PR consultant for the British company stated in 2019 that her client worked for Senjo. That’s only half the story. In practice, O’Sullivan is said to have been the one in charge of Senjo. In Singapore, the authorities are now investigating for falsification of accounts in the vicinity of the group of companies.
How hard Marsalek worked internally at Wirecard for his party friend O’Sullivan is shown by a short-term lending business from 2016, which several Wirecard board members dealt with. Ascheimer Wirecard Bank AG granted Cottisford Holdings Ltd, a generous credit line of ten million euros from O’Sullivan, for which Wirecard AG guaranteed as internal emails and documents prove this.
“Today the supervisory board formally approved the loan retrospectively, but was not ‘amused’ about it,” wrote the then board member Rainer Wexeler of Wirecard Bank AG on March 2, 2016 to Marsalek. He complained that the panel had been poorly informed. Wexeler asked: “Can you please give me the private address of O’Sullivan and some key business data about his business, his connection to Wirecard AG, etc.?”
Wirecard Scandal claims another Victim – Heike Pauls from Commerzbank
It’s not even eight months since Germany’s number one payment service provider imploded: Wirecard had to admit in June 2020 that billions of euros never existed on the balance sheet. As a result, board members had to go to jail or disappeared without a trace. Since then, auditors have been distrusted, and the head of the BaFin supervisory authority has to look for a new job. The youngest victim is Heike Pauls of the German Commerzbank.
Up until a few weeks before the Wirecard scandal burst, several analysts in various banks believed in Wirecard. They unshakably believed that the annual financial statements for 2019, which had been postponed several times, would end well, some experts continued to insist on Wirecard price targets of 180 to 240 euros.
One of the bravest supporters of the scandal group was Heike Pauls from Commerzbank. The analyst was always loyal to Wirecard: She dismissed critical reports about the payment processor as false reports and even a few weeks before the collapse she issued a buy recommendation with a price target of 230 euros for the Wirecard share.
As the Spiegel reported, Pauls had in the meantime also provided the management of the payment processor with sensitive information that it had collected specifically on the capital market. In January Commerzbank had already restructured the research department and relieved the analyst of her duties, now the announcement was made:
“Commerzbank has terminated the employment relationship.”
The Wirecard scandal is far from being dealt with. Further personnel consequences in various economic areas could follow. Extensive claims for damages by investors against the insolvent payment service provider are also examined and the the Wirecard share remains taboo for any investors.
Wirecard Committee – Doubts about Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s Credibility
Didn’t Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tell the whole truth when he appeared as a witness on the Wirecard investigative committee? Internal documents that are available to the ARD studio fuel the suspicion. The SPD accuses him of having lied to the committee and in the opposition too, doubts about its credibility are growing.
In December Guttenberg was asked about his role in the Wirecard scandal in the Bundestag. It was also about an article that the former CSU minister published in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” at the end of March 2020. The topic: The role of short sales in the Corona crisis. At the time, Wirecard was targeted by shortsellers, i.e. stock exchange traders who bet on falling prices for a company and Guttenberg had argued against such short sales in the article.
Mail to ex-Wirecard boss Markus Braun
Guttenberg apparently did not want to draw a direct connection to his work for Wirecard, but there are doubts about this representation.
An email to the then Wirecard boss Markus Braun, however, indicates that Guttenberg could very well have had the now insolvent DAX group in mind when he wrote the text for the FAZ.
In this email of March 20, 2020, the Managing Director of the communications company Edelman, Rüdiger Assion, proposed a “Short Selling Action Plan” to the Wirecard boss. Among other things, this contained the suggestion that Guttenberg could write a guest commentary on the subject of short sales in the newspapers FAZ or “Die Welt”. An argumentation paper with key messages is also attached to the mail. Just six days later, exactly such a guest comment appears in the FAZ. Guttenberg’s argumentation shows clear similarities with the line proposed in the argumentation paper.
SPD speaks of a lie
The SPD chairman in the Wirecard committee, Zimmermann, therefore accuses Guttenberg of not telling the truth on the witness stand. Zimmermann told the ARD city studio: “He (Guttenberg’s note by the editor) lied to the investigative committee and tried to set the wrong track when he denied arguing for a ban on short sales in the interests of Wirecard. A real surprise is this lack of honesty not with him. ” Now it must be clarified whether Guttenberg deliberately wanted to mislead the investigative committee.
CDU defends Guttenberg
Guttenberg is defended by the CDU. The MP Matthias Hauer said that the SPD should primarily devote itself to the question of why the BaFin, supervised by Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, imposed the short sale ban on Wirecard. “This should certainly contribute more to the explanation of Wirecard than an article in the name of an ex-politician on the subject in the FAZ.”
But doubts about Guttenberg’s credibility are also growing among the opposition. The chairman of the Greens, Danyal Bayaz, said that Guttenberg’s remarks on his opinion contribution had already been implausible in the committee of inquiry. “Apparently it was part of the advisory service to specifically win over public opinion for a renewed ban on short selling.” That does not cast a good light on Guttenberg’s honesty.
The Linke chairman in the committee, Fabio de Masi, can imagine summoning the former Federal Minister again: “If Mr. Guttenberg was Baron Münchhausen and had said the untruth in front of the committee of inquiry, this would also be criminally relevant, (…) the question is then whether his other statements that he had met the Chancellor privately are also untrue. “
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