Gröpelingen lies on the right side of the Weser river, about 5 km west of Bremen city centre. It was previously a working class neighbourhood, home to the majority of the manpower at Bremen’s docks and shipyards. It is made up of five sub-districts: Gröpelingen, Lindenhof, Ohlenhof, Oslebshausen and In den Wischen, spread over an area of 9.79 km2. The last ward is however sparsely populated (12 persons as of end of December 2013) and statistic reports generally include data relating to the In den Wischen area into that of the other sub-districts. There are a total of 5 primary schools and 4 middle secondary schools, but no government higher secondary schools (offering up to A level) in the area. However, there is a private higher secondary school located in the sub-district Ohlenhof (Senator for Science and Education 2015).

Gröpelingen is one of three city districts in western Bremen. It is the largest district of the three, has the highest number of inhabitants, and is also the youngest and most diverse. A total of 35,565 people lived in Gröpelingen as of December 2013. 51.4% were male, 45.6% were not married and 44% had a migrant background (all Bremen: 48.8% male, 45.0% not married, 29.6% migrant background). The average age was 41.3 years (all Bremen 43.9 years). The proportion of the population aged 0-15 years was considerably than the Bremen average (Gröpelingen 15.2; all Bremen 12.1%), while that of those 65 years and above was lower (Gröpelingen 17.8; all Bremen 21.2%). There was no difference in the proportions of those aged 15-64 years old (Gröpelingen 67.0; all Bremen 66.8%) (Statistics Office Bremen 2013).

Turkish, Yugoslavian, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Moroccan and Tunisian workers, most of them working at the docks and shipyards, moved into the area as from the 1950s, and in time there were quite a number of Turkish and other international supermarkets, cafes, and shops. These were mostly located along the Gröpelinger Heerstrasse, a big road running through the middle of the quarter and in the area around Lindenhof Street. The latter became known as ‘Little Istanbul’.  The crisis that hit Bremen’s shipbuilding companies in the 1970’s and led to the closure of the AG Weser in 1983, had far-reaching consequences for the neighbourhood. Thousands were left unemployed, reducing the area’s spending power and leading to social problems (Bremen State, Area Report Gröpelingen 2010).

Today, the unemployment rate in the district is 27%, which is more than double the average of Bremen city (10.4%). More than half of the unemployed are long term unemployed (52%). In 2013, a total of 4972 households in Gröpelingen claimed unemployment benefits, making up 12.6% of all households in Bremen city claiming unemployment benefits. This represents the highest number of households in any of Bremen’s 23 districts claiming unemployment benefits.  More than half of the households (53.7%) were single person households (Statistics Office Bremen 2013). According to the 2009 Social Indicators, four of the sub-districts making up the quarter of Gröpelingen (Gröpelingen, Ohlenhof, Lindenhof and Oslebshausen) were amongst the eight most deprived sub-disctricts in Bremen (out of 78), and occupied places 1 (Gröpelingen), 3 (Ohlenhof), 4 (Lindenhof), and 8 (Oslebshausen) (Social Indicators 2009). In addition, the proportion of children under 6 years receiving social support (55%) is considerably higher than the Bremen average of 31.8%. The corresponding proportion for 6-18 year olds is about 40%, 15% higher than the Bremen average (25.4%) (Senator for Science and Education 2013). In Germany, the federal city state of Bremen is well-known for having the highest poverty rate in the country (Annual report German Non-Denominational Welfare Association 2013).

The proportion of residents with a migrant background (44%  - n=15,631) is well above the Bremen city average of 29.6%. 56.8% of these persons (8,880) do not have German citizenship and 7.2% (1,123) were ethnic German resettlers from the former Soviet Union, respectively their descendants. The corresponding proportions for Bremen city were 43.3% without German citizenship and 18% ethnic German resettlers or their descendants. Persons with Turkish background make up the largest sub-group, accounting for 39.7% (6,201) of all persons with a migrant background, and 17.4% of Gröpelingen’s population. The next largest sub-group of persons with a migrant background is of Polish background (8.5% - 1,327), followed by those from Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia (total of 1,254 – 8%), from the Commonwealth of Independent States (1,002 – 6.4%) and from former Yugoslavia (950 - 6%). Persons originating from the African continent constitute 8.8% (n=1,379) of those with a migrant background. 27% of these (373) originated from Ghana (Statistics Office Bremen 2013). According to data from 2011, the proportion of children under six years of age with a migrant background was 59,8% in the ward Oslebshausen, 73.9% in Gröpelingen, 77.5% in Ohlenhof, and 82.0% in Lindenhof. In comparison, the Bremen city average was 53.9%. Among those 6-18 years old, the proportion was 51.5% in Oslebshausen, 63.6% in Gröpelingen, 71.6% in Ohlenhof and 67.1% in Lindenhof. The Bremen city average was 47.0% (Senator for Science and Education 2013).

Key languages spoken in the quarter include German, Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, Bulgarian and Romanian. There are more than 15 different mother tongues spoken in Gröpelingen’s government schools. 55% of the pupils do not have German as the mother tongue (Bremen city average is 33.6%). The most common mother tongues reported by the pupils are Turkish (30%), Arabic (4%) and Kurdish (4%). The Bremen averages are 12.2% for Turkish, and 2.9% each for Arabic and Kurdish (Senator for Science and Education 2013). Looking at ward level, Ohlenhof has the highest proportion of pupils not reporting German as their mother tongue (65.3%). Turkish (37%) and Arabic (6%) are the two most common mother tongues reported. In Oslebshausen, 42.4% of the pupils did not have German as the mother tongue. 18% had Turkish and 4% Arabic. In the sub-districts Gröpelingen and Ohlenhof there is a concentration of pupils with Kurdish as the mother tongue: 5 and 6% respectively. In all four sub-districts, there are also quite a number of pupils reporting Bulgarian or Romanian as their mother tongue, but the highest concentration is in Lindenhof (4%) (Senator for Science and Education 2013). 

In overall terms, the health of residents in Gröpelingen is worse than the average for Bremen, and indeed for Germany, across a whole range of indicators. For the period 1997-2006, life expectancy for men was 71.5 years, 8 years less than in Schwachhausen, one of Bremen’s more affluent neighbourhoods. The corresponding figures for women were 79.1 years for Gröpelingen and 84.2 years for Schwachhausen (Health Report Bremen State 2010). For the period 2003-2008, premature mortality among men below 65 years of age in deprived areas including Gröpelingen was 435/100,000, compared to 159.5 for men in more privileged areas. The average rate for Bremen was 259.9 in 2008, higher than the national average of 244.9. The rates for women were 223 for those in deprived, and 121.3 for those in privileged areas. The Bremen city average for 2008 was 153.9, again higher than the national average of 127.3 (Health Report Bremen State 2010).


Senator for Science and Education (2015): Die Senatorin für Bildung und Wissenschaft – Schulwegweiser:

Statistics Office Bremen (2013)

Bremen State, Area Report Gröpelingen: Stadteilbericht Gröpelingen (2010)

Social indicators: Sozialindikatoren (2009) Die Senatorin für Arbeit, Frauen, Gesundheit, Jugend und Soziales

Senator for Education and Science (2013): Die Senatorin für Bildung und Wissenschaft -Bildung – Migration – soziale Lage in Gröpelingen

Annual Report German Non-Denominational Welfare Association (2013): Jahresbericht paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband

Health Report Bremen State: Landesgesundheitsbericht Bremen (2010)