Ludwigshafen (lood´ vigs • häf-n), became Pasadena’s original sister city through the efforts of the American Friends Service Committee in Pasadena, who wished to provide war relief to Europe after World War II, as had been done after the First World War. Strategically located on the Rhine River and home to Europe’s largest chemical plant, BASF, Ludwigshafen was bombed 107 times during World War II. By the war’s end, the city was a mass of twisted steel and rubble with less than 20 percent of the residences still habitable. With scarcity of food, fuel, water, and medicine—disease and malnutrition were rampant.
In surveying war-torn Europe, the American Friends Service Committee pinpointed Ludwigshafen as one of the neediest cities. In December 1946 Tom and Trudie Hunt, with the American Friends Service Committee from Pasadena, arrived in Ludwigshafen to determine what help was most needed. After returning to Pasadena, they gave over one hundred lectures describing the plight of Ludwigshafen. They were involved in the founding of the “Pasadena Shares Committee” in March 1948. The citizens of Pasadena were quick to respond. For several years, packages of blankets, clothing, food, and medicines were sent to Ludwigshafen with the names and addresses of the Pasadenans sending them. Many friendships were formed. When normal times returned, visits of the citizens of both cities began and continue to this day.
In 1956 President Dwight Eisenhower suggested that if United States cities reached out to countries with whom we were formerly at war, and formed a sister city relationship for mutual friendship and understanding, this would be a great force for peace. The sister cities idea caught on all over the world. Pasadena and Ludwigshafen were among the first to become sister cities.
Student exchanges occur every summer. Both cities sponsor an “Intern” program where young people have the opportunity to obtain work experience in the field in which they hope to have careers. Cultural exchanges take place continuously. Groups of citizens visit from sports clubs, chess clubs, municipal employees, police & fire departments, and many other groups and associations.
Today, Ludwigshafen, with a population 160,000 is one of Germany’s most prosperous industrial cities. It is an ideal gateway for trips to the Black Forest, Heidelberg, and the surrounding wine country in the German Palatinate.