Welcome to the happiest town in Germany. Last decade a nationwide poll found citizens of OSNABRÜCK, the largest city in western Lower Saxony, more content than those anywhere else in Germany, inspiring a marketing campaign in Stern magazine that declared “Ich komm zum Glück aus Osnabrück” (I’m lucky to be from Osnabrück). A friendly small-scale city of modest charm and with a university to prevent it stagnating, it has much to be happy about.
In 1648 after more than four years of negotiations here and in Münster 60km south, Catholic and Protestant signatures dried on the Peace of Westphalia and the political and religious inferno of the Thirty Years’ War was finally doused. Osnabrück has treasured its diplomacy of peace ever since. Her two great sons, Justus Möser and Erich Maria Remarque, dreamed of ennobled, free workers and railed against war’s insanity respectively, and today Osnabrück proudly declares herself “Die Friedenstadt” (Peace City), host of Nobel Peace Prize-winners Henry Kissinger and the Dalai Lama, home of the German Foundation for Peace Research and the national branch of child-relief agency Terre des Hommes. Perhaps it’s no surprise that its finest museum-gallery pays homage to a Jewish artist murdered at Auschwitz.