Münster is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, in the northwest of Germany.
Münster was founded as a monastery in 794 by the Frisian missionary Saint Liudger to aid Charlemagne’s campaign to gain control over the Saxons. The city’s name is derived from the word “monastery” which can be seen from its Latin name of Monasterium. In 805, Münster was made a bishopric and, in 1170, it obtained its town rights.
For centuries the city and its surrounding (the Münsterland) was ruled by powerful prince-bishops who were religious leader, political ruler and supreme judge at the same time. During the Middle Ages, Münster was a member of the Hanseatic League, becoming a prosperous trade city; the proud patrician houses on Prinzipalmarkt give evidence of this era. In 1534 and 1535, Münster was ruled by the radical Protestant sect of Anabaptists led by the Dutch preacher Jan van Leiden who crowned himself priest-king of the “Kingdom of Zion”, expecting an imminent end of the world. The movement was brutally suppressed by the Catholic Church and their leaders tortured, executed and put into cages that were hung on the city’s highest steeple (the cages can still be seen hanging on the St Lamberti Church’s tower).
In 1648, the Westphalian Peace treaty was negotiated and signed coevally in Osnabrück and at the Rathaus (city hall) of Münster (envoys of the different parties were constantly riding between the two cities back and forth), marking an end to the Thirty Years’ War.
This peace treaty gave rise to the modern concept of state sovereignty which is known as the “Westphalian order” among international law scholars. The city is proud of this heritage, claiming the slogan of being “the city of Peace”.
In 1815, the Prince-Bishopric of Münster was annexed by Prussia and Münster became the capital of the Prussian province of Westphalia. Since then, it has been dominated by administrative and judicial institutions, professional services and trade, while industry never played a big role. The city has long had a reputation of being deeply “black”, i.e. Catholic and conservative (while most cities in North Rhine-Westphalia were dominated by the working class and were considered strongholds of socialism and thus “red”).
Münster University was founded in 1773, but it was closed down by the Prussian government in favour of the newly-founded University of Bonn. It was however re-established by German Emperor William II in 1902 who also confered his name to it (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität). Since then, the number of students has massively grown. Nowadays, the University and the Münster polytechnic (Fachhochschule) have about 50,000 students in total—a significant share of them being international students—who have given the city a much more liberal and diverse outlook, contrary to its traditional image.
Since Westphalia was merged into the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Münster has lost its capital role to Düsseldorf, but the city of just over 300,000 inhabitants still hosts several administrative institutions, courts of justice, insurance and trade companies and, first and foremost, educational institutes. It is home to high-tech startups. To many Germans, Münster is a household name because the popular crime series Tatort which is regularly watched by more than a third of the German TV audience has a number of episodes set here known for their tongue in cheek humor (unusual for Tatort otherwise) and the “unlikely couple” of Prof. Karl Friedrich Boerne, a coroner, and Frank Thiel a carless bike-driving cop with a hippie father. While much of the episodes is actually shot elsewhere, popular landmarks still feature prominently in many episodes.
- Hauptbahnhof. Münster has decent train connections to the rest of Germany, mainly towards the north and south. Hourly intercity services connect Münster to Hamburg, the Ruhr and Cologne; intercity services to Frankfurt call every two hours; while other destinations are served more sporadically, though some as far-flung as Salzburg in Austria. Regional services are pretty good and provide hourly direct connections to most of the federal state. The central station (Hauptbahnhof) is to be found as Münster(Westf)Hbf in DB’s booking system.
- Münster-Osnabrück Airport. Münster’s own airport has lost connections since Ryanair and others left. There are still several domestic flights and flights to warm weather destinations around Europe. It is a 40 minutes’ bus ride from the city (buses S50 and R51, half-hourly during daytime, hourly in the evening, less frequent on Sundays and public holidays, €7.60). Taxis cost €50–60, make sure to negotiate a fixed fare.
If flying, Düsseldorf Airport is your most likely option. Direct flights land from most major European airports, interspersed with the occasional intercontinental flight. Trains take about 1 hour 40 minutes to Münster (on the RE2 line, hourly, €25). A taxi is likely to cost you €180 or more
Cheap Flights to Muenster
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By car, Münster can be reached by Highway A 1 from both the north and the south and Highway A 43 from the southwest. On Saturdays, traffic into the city becomes a nightmare, so park your car at one of the four free Park and Ride lots (located on the main axes into town and marked by P+R signs) and take the bus into the centre.
Intercity bus lines are not as cheap as they used to be, but there are still deals to be had when you book early and are flexible with departure times. Flixbus is by far the biggest player in the market. Some international destinations are served by Eurolines. Buses arrive at and leave from behind the train station.
Münster has a lot of bikes which creates a really special atmosphere. The city is rather flat, and is home to about 50,000 students, so naturally traveling by bike and on foot are the key modes of transport. All sidewalks outside residential areas have a red-brick section reserved just for cyclists (walking on this section is a gaffe which may cause cyclists to ring their bell angrily!), and the entire city has a pedestrian/cycle path that surrounds it: The Promenade follows the route of the city’s long-gone medieval walls, and it makes for a very nice walk, taking you past the lovely Aasee (a large artificial lake surrounded by a park). While both walking and cycling are perfectly safe, some cyclists drive at a rather brisk pace and don’t expect people to cross cycle routes without looking and getting hit by them can leave you seriously injured.
If you plan to stay within the centre, you can easily get around on foot. If you’re venturing outside, don’t be afraid to hire a bike. Münster is said to be one of Germany’s most bike-friendly cities (along with Erlangen, a town of similar size and a similar number of students), and bike paths are clearly marked and usually separated from other traffic. The best option for bike rental is Radstation:
- Radstation, Berliner Platz 27a (next to the train station). M–F 05:30–23:00, Sa Su 07:00–23:00. A huge bike parking lot that also rents bikes. Bikes are good quality, the location and the hours are very convenient. Electric bikes and tandems available. €8/day.
Münster also has an efficient bus system operated by the Stadtwerke. Buses run between 05:00 and 01:00 on weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. Most lines run every 20 minutes, but lines tend to overlap which usually makes for a denser schedule. Due to the confusing city layout and numerous construction sites, the whole thing isn’t altogether straightforward, which isn’t helped by the fact that all lines change around 21:00 when the entire system is switched to night traffic. Late at night, buses can be up to 70 minutes apart, so check the schedule beforehand. All lines meet at Hauptbahnhof (the central station). Ticket machines are sparse, but you can purchase tickets from the driver at a extra charge. Neither accept cards, not even German debit cards. A single ticket (Einzelticket) costs €2.60/€3.00 (regular/onboard fare), but if you’re making a return journey, buy a day pass (9-Uhr-Tagesticket) for €4.90/€6.20. Remember to stamp your ticket when you board.
What to see and do
Almost all the interesting sites are concentrated in the city centre, which is easily walkable.
- Peace Hall (Friedenssaal) (Historisches Rathaus). Located in the old city hall, is famous for the signing of the historic Treaty of Münster, a document which, as a part of the Peace of Westphalia, ended the Thirty Years’ War and established the Westphalian style of diplomacy between sovereign states.
- Prinzipalmarkt. The Prinzipalmarkt used to be the city’s main market street. It was heavily bombed during the Second World War, but unlike elsewhere, where ruins gave way to faceless blocks of concrete, the houses were rebuilt, some following the original plans and some merely inspired by the old architecture. Try to spot to houses with identical gables (hint: there aren’t any, but they’re all pretty). Today it is home to many of the city’s more exclusive (some might say posh) shopping establishments.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral (St.-Paulus-Dom), Domplatz 28. Münster is known for its vast number of churches that dot its entire cityscape, including gothic St. Lambert’s (Lambertikirche) and Baroque St. Clement’s Church (Klemenskirche). The city’s most impressive church, the St. Paul’s Cathedral, is well worth a visit.
- Palace (Schloss). It was finished in 1787 as one of the last major high-Baroque buildings in Germany (by that time Rococo and even Neoclassicist styles had already become in vogue), designed by Johann Conrad Schlaun, Münster’s leading Baroque architect. Unfortunately, Prince-Bishop Maximilian Friedrich, who had commissioned the building, never got to move in there, having died three years earlier. His successor didn’t bother much, and shortly thereafter Münster lost its status of prince-bishopric and the palace was used for other purposes. These days it is home to the university administration. During World War II, it was heavily damaged. The exterior was entirely rebuilt in the original style while the interior rather reflects the preferences of the 1950s. There’s little to look at inside (although doors are open during university hours), but its façade is a curious and very characteristic combination of sandstone and red brick. During summer, lots of events are held on the square, somewhat marring the view more days than not.
- Behind the palace, surrounded by a pentagonal moat, are the extensive palace grounds, occupied by a tranquil landscape garden and the University’s Botanical gardens. daily 08:00–16:00, longer hours in summer. You don’t need to be a biologist to enjoy a lengthy stroll along the paths lined by some 8,000 different species. When the weather turns ghastly (it often does), you can seek refuge in ten greenhouses and pretend it’s summer. Free.
- Haus Rüschhaus (near Münster-Nienberge, about 7 km west of the city centre). Late-Baroque country house, former residence of the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, beautiful and well-maintained Baroque garden.
- City Museum (Stadtmuseum), Salzstraße 28. Tu–F 10:00–18:00, Sa Su 11:00–18:00, M closed. If you’re curious how the city evolved from the tiny hamlet of Mimigernaford it was in the 6th century to become the bike-infested metropolis of today, the City Museum holds the answers. Even though the exhibits are exclusively in German, many speak for themselves, and admission is free.
- Picasso Museum, Picassoplatz 1. Tu–Su 10:00–18:00, M closed. The only museum devoted exclusively to the graphic works of Pablo Picasso. Has varying exhibits on Picasso and his life, but also his contemporaries and friends, and holds almost all of his lithographical works. Adults €10, children (6-16) €4, students €8.
What to do
- Zoo. There is an all-weather zoo in Münster.
- Swimming. There is a nice modern indoor swimming pool near the town centre.
There is a huge choice of restaurants in Münster. The cuisine of almost every country in the world is represented.
- Mocca d’ or, Rothenburg 14. a nice choice for Italian food
- Stuhlmacher, Prinzipalmarkt 6 (by the Town Hall/Rathaus).
- Kiepenkerl. has tables outside by the Maypole
Münster has a large student population so there are a range of bars such as Cafe Extrablatt and Markt Cafe (on the market square by the Cathedral). The Jüdefelder Straße (located north west of the city centre) gathers many bars and pubs such as Gorilla, Die Rote Liebe, Davidswache, Destille and more. Alternatively, you can find a huge amount of bars in the “Hafen” area (south east of the city centre, behind the main train station). Prices are usually reasonable (starting at around €2 for a beer and €4/5 for a cocktail).
- Pinkus Müller. Take advantage from being in Münster by drinking an Altbier at Brauerei und Altbierküche Pinkus Müller. The Pinkus Müller restaurant and bar has its own brewery producing some really tasty beers.
- Markt Cafe. A modern bar and café opposite the cathedral
- Stuhlmacher. A traditional pub next to the Rathaus (town hall) on Prinzipalmarkt
- Café Garbo, Warendorfer Straße 45-47 (east of the center). 10:90-01:30. A cafe-pub which offers good, fresh food, mostly vegetarian or vegan. A lot of fair trade and ecological products as coffee, tea, jucies, vegetables. Sandwiches for breakfast, great house-made cake, Dutch and English menue (German menue also for blind people available!). Free-wlan, changing table, a lot of newspapers, nice, warm and cosy atmosphere, also meeting point for Gay. Since it’s also a cinema you can always view a movie before or after dinner. Most movies are in German, but some are in their original languages with German subtitles. Mains €4-9.
Where to stay in Münster
- Kaiserhof Hotel, Bahnhofstraße 14 (opposite the station). A really nice choice, with modern rooms. From the outside, it looks like just a modern office block type building. But inside. It is really nicely decorated it the style of a traditional older hotel. There is also a free sauna for guests.
- Hotel Conti, Berliner Platz 2 (opposite the station).
- Ibis Hotel, Engelstraße 53 (about 5 minutes walk from the main station).
- Hotel Martinihof, Hörsterstraße 25 , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. A small family-run hotel in a quiet street at the fringe of the old city. 75 €.
Hotels Muenster: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Mövenpick Hotel Münster||★★★★|
|H4 Hotel Münster||★★★★|
|Hotel Haus vom Guten Hirten||★★★|
|Das Landhotel zur Mühle||★★★★|
|ibis Hotel Münster||★★★|
|Parkhotel Hohenfeld Münster||★★★★|
- Burg Hülshoff, Schonebeck 6, 48329 Havixbeck (about 12 km west of the city centre; on the D3 cycle path from Münster to Havixbeck). Romantic, late-medieval water castle owned by the noble family Droste-Hülshoff (whose most well-known offspring was the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff).
- Telgte (about 12 km east of the city centre; nice cycling route, or 12 minutes by hourly regional train). Lovely and peaceful old town; the octagonal Baroque St Mary’s Chapel is Northern Germany’s most important Catholic pilgrimage destination. Moreover there is a museum of religious traditions, a brandy distillery museum, several historic (Renaissance or Baroque) buildings, and a number of small restaurants and shops.
- Lüdinghausen, small town with three castles, including the beautiful Vischering water castle, 30 km south, best accessible by bike along the scenic “Route of hundred castles”
- Dülmen, mostly rebuilt after World War II, but has a number of historical sights and an extensive English-style landscape garden, 30 km southwest, 20 minutes by half-hourly regional express
- Dortmund, big trade and industrial city on the Ruhr steeped in history and famous for its football (soccer) team, 65 km south, 30 minutes by intercity or 55 minutes by regional train
- Enschede, Münster’s twin city in the Netherlands, 65 km northwest, 1 hour 20 min by hourly regional train
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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