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Magdeburg Cathedral

Magdeburg: This is the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. It lies primarily east of the Elbe River. Its location made it one of the most important medieval cities of Europe. Emperor Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor {Römischen Reich}, lived during most of his reign in the town and was buried within the cathedral's crypt. The city is also well-known for the 1631 Sack of Magdeburg, an atrocity that hardened Protestant resistance during the Thirty Years' War. After that episode, a population of only 400 remained. People you might know from this city: Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), a composer of some repute and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, technical military advisor to General George Washington and an American Patriot. On November 28, 1794, von Steuben passed away at Remsen, New York. Steuben had been a Prussian officer. At the behest of Benjamin Franklin, he aided the ailing effort of the American Colonies. Arriving in 1777, Washington placed him in the line of command for troops at Valley Forge. He retrained these forces and wrote a manual, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. The city of Steubenville, Ohio bears his name. Interestingly, Nashville (not Steubenville) is Magdeburg's sister city.

Founded by Charlemagne in 805 as Magadoburg, the town was fortified in 919 by King Henry I the Fowler against the Magyars and Slavs. In 929 the city went to Edward the Elder's daughter Edith, through her marriage with Henry's son Otto I, as a Morgengabe — a Germanic customary gift received by the new bride from the groom. At her death she was buried in her beloved city, within the crypt of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Maurice, later rebuilt as a cathedral church dedicated St. Maurice (937). The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was established less than 2 generations later (968) Thereafter the archbishops of Magdeburg would play a prominent role in the German christianization and colonization of the Slavic lands east of the Elbe river. In 1207 the St. Maurice Cathedral burned to the ground. The replacement was put on other foundations. Overtime the location of the original structure was lost until rediscoverd in 2003.

In the 13th century, Magdeburg became a member of the Hanseatic League (a monopolistic alliance of seafaring trading merchants and city guilds). Together with Brussels, Antwerp, Cologne, Nuremberg, Lübeck, Padua, Mantua, Cremona, Verona, Piacenza, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Metz, and Strasbourg, Magdeburg was one of the cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants in the Holy Roman Empire. The town had an active maritime commerce with western Europe (towards Flanders) as well as with the countries boardering the North Sea. Years pass and in n 1524 Martin Luther was called to Magdeburg, where he preached and caused the city's defection from the Roman Catholic faith. The Protestant Reformation had quickly found adherents in the city, where Luther had been a schoolboy. About 100 years later the city was in ruin from Caatholic forces. The Cathedral was virtually the only building to survive intact and the people within, the massacres in the city during the Thirty Years' War (May 20,1631). A year later only about 500 people still lived in the ruins. The war in which over 8 million civilians died was in some scholars' reckoning far worse than the Second World War (considering total population).

In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, the fortress city surrendered to French troops in 1806. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, Magdeburg was made the capital of the new Prussian Province of Saxony. More years pass and after a firestorm, the city again lay in ruins at the end of World War II. The impressive Gründerzeit suburbs north of the city, called the Nordfront, were destroyed as well as the city's main street with its Baroque-style structures. Some say it was one of the most devastated city in Germany, second only to Dresden. Under the Soviet occupation, many of the remaining pre-World War II city buildings were destroyed, with only a few buildings, near the Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice, restored to their pre-war state. Prior to the reunification of Germany, many surviving Gründerzeit buildings were left uninhabited and, after years of degradation, waiting for demolition. For example, The Rathaus stood on the marketplace beginning in the 13th century, but was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War. The new town hall was built in a Renaissance style influenced by Dutch architecture. It has been renovated and reopened in Oct 2005.

September 22nd: Today is the Feast day of Saint Mauritius (died circa 302AD). Mauritius (or Maurice) was one of the 66 Christian legionnaires, martyred after torture. Authorities beheaded him at Agaunum, what would become Saint Maurice-en-Valais, Switzerland; but, Magdeburg has a special tribute for this man born in Thebes in the third century -- its Cathedral. Saint Maurice became a patron saint of the Holy Roman Emperors. In 926, Henry I (919–936), even ceded the present Swiss canton of Aargau to the abbey dedicated to him there, in return for Maurice's lance, sword and spurs. The sword and spurs of Saint Maurice were part of the regalia used at coronations of the Austro-Hungarian Emperors until 1916, and among the most important insignia of the imperial throne. In addition, some of the emperors were anointed before the Altar of Saint Maurice at St. Peter's Basilica. In 929 Henry I the Fowler held a royal court gathering (Reichsversammlung) at Magdeburg. At the same time the Mauritius Kloster in honor of Maurice was founded. In 961, Otto I was building and enriching the cathedral at Magdeburg, which he intended for his own tomb. Thus, "in the year 961 of the Incarnation and in the twenty-fifth year of his reign, in the presence of all of the nobility, on the vigil of Christmas, the body of Saint Maurice was conveyed to him at Regensburg along with the bodies of some of the saint's companions and portions of other saints. Having been sent to Magdeburg, these relics were received with great honour by a gathering of the entire populace of the city and of their fellow countrymen. They are still venerated there, to the salvation of the homeland."

North and west of the city is the old town of Zielitz and its unique heritage. The name Zielitz, for the last 1000 years, essentially has remained unchanged (various spellings). The name is of Slavonic origin, from the words Sedliska, Sedlisce (a grange is implied). The first written mention of Zielitz dates from the 21st September in 937. We know the date so precisely because King Otto I (Holy Roman Emperor) gives Zelici to the Magdeburger monastery (Abbot Mauritius). The monastery had possessions in Leitskau as well as Zielitz. In 1320 the town transferred to the order at Ste. Catherine in Wolmirstedt, with which it remained until 1810 with the dissolution of the monastery. In war, the greatest suffering occurred during the Thirty Years' War (in 1636 Zielitz was destroyed). Only the foundations and the ruins of the village church remained. The area was rural, not obtaining a rail stop until 1913. Through the development of potash mining, the number of inhabitants in Zielitz increased sharply and the economy began to rely more and more on industrial crafts. With the workforce cut in half after reunification post-1989, many homes stand empty, scheduled for demolition, while the city is undergoing an upgrade.

Potash mining (Potash is an essential mineral-nutrient in growth -- the K in NPK) began around 1905. Kali und Salz is the operator of the vast complex of the underground mine. While the product is high grade, about half the material removed is waste rock (primarily salt). The mine has resulted in two salt (refuse) piles visible for many miles, because the land is flat. The salt piles are close to the Elbe and the nearby Kanal.

Halle (Saale): Halle an der Saale is situated in the southern part of Sachsen-Anhalt, along the river Saale which drains the surrounding plains and the greater part of the neighboring Free State of Thuringia located just to its south, and the Thuringian basin, northwards from the Thuringian Forest. Leipzig, one of the other major cities of eastern Germany, is only 40 km away. Halle's early history is connected with harvesting of salt. In fact the name Halle may be derived from a pre-Germanic word for salt. The name of the river Saale also contains the Germanic root for salt and salt-harvesting has taken place in Halle at least since the time of the Bronze Age. Salt, also known as White Gold, was extracted from four "Borns" (well-like structures). The four Borns/brine named Gutjahrwell, Meteritzwell, German Borne and Hackeborn, are located around the Hallmarket (or "Under Market"), now a market square with a fountain, just across from the TV station, MDR. The brine was highly concentrated and boiled in Koten, simple houses made from reed and clay. Salters, who wore a unique uniform with eighteen golden buttons, were known as Halloren.

The town was first mentioned in 806. It became a part of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg in the 10th century and remained so until 1680, when Brandenburg-Prussia annexed it together with Magdeburg as the Duchy of Magdeburg. In 1815 it became part of the Prussian Province of Saxony. After World War II Halle served as the capital of the short-lived administrative region of Saxony-Anhalt, until 1952 when the East German government abolished its "Länder" (States). As a part of East Germany (until 1990), it functioned as the capital of the administrative district ("Bezirk") of Halle. When Saxony-Anhalt was re-established as a Bundesland, Magdeburg became the capital. Giebichenstein Castle, first mentioned in 961, is west of the city-centre on a hill above the Saale river. The Cathedral, a steepleless building, was originally a church within a Dominican monastery (built in 1271). Moritzburg, a newer palace, was built in 1503, as the residence of the archbishops of Magdeburg. Destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, it was then a ruin for centuries. Rebuilt in 1904, today it holds an Art Gallery.,_Saxony-Anhalt

Now everyone knows that where there is smoke there is fire, but did you know that where there is brine there is chocolate ? The Halloren-Werke, the oldest chocolate factory in Germany, was founded here in 1804. Grenoble is Halle's sister city (also nearby a center for chocolate at Voiron), along with Karlsruhe in the western part of Germany. The famous Baroque composer Georg Friedrich Händel was born here in 1685, where he spent the first 17 years of his life. Later he moved to England to entertain King George III, dying 250 years ago. Interestingly, Halle is an eastern Huguenot (French Protestant) stronghold. About 700 of these prosecuted Christians made Halle their home after fleeing France. Halle ist schön {English -- a must see for all its pictures} --

Saints Peter and Paul Kirche Dessau: Dessau (since July 1st 2007, Dessau-Roßlau), situated on a floodplain, sits where the river Mulde flows into the Elbe. This confluence causes yearly floods. Dessau, first mentioned in 1213, had become an important center by 1570, when the Principality of Anhalt was founded. Dessau became the capital of this state within the Holy Roman Empire. Anhalt dissolved in less than two generations (1603), but Dessau remained a prosperous town, and became the capital of the mini-state of Anhalt-Dessau. Moving ahead 300 years, Hugo Junkers, a prominent Dessau resident, built the first airplane totally made from metal (before then they were made of wood and cloth (canvas). The Junkers J-1 first flew in 1915 (World War I).

Herr Junkers established the Junkers & Company, which had Europe's biggest airplane-factory during World War II (e.g. Junkers Ju-52, Junkers G-38, Ju-87 Stuka). Accordingly, the city was a target throughout the war; however, it was almost completely destroyed by Allied air raids on March 7th, 1945 - just a few days before American troops occupied the town. Afterwards it was rebuilt with typical East German (DDR) concrete slab architecture and became a major industrial center of the East German state. Since German the reunification (1990) many historic buildings have been restored. Dessau has about 80,000 inhabitants and a normal gauge tram network with a total length of about 13 km. The fleet consists of ten Bombardiers model NGT6D and three, former Duisburg, GT8's. Pics HERE. Dessau is famous for its college of architecture Bauhaus. It moved here in 1925 after it had been forced to close in Weimar.

May 18, 1883: Today marks the birthday of Adolf Georg Walter Gropius in Berlin, Prussia, who was director of the Bauhaus School in Weimar and Dessau from 1919 until 1928. As an architect, Gropius would design buildings at the Bauhaus complex in Dessau, and later, the Harvard University Graduate Center and the U. S. Embassy in Athens. In 1915 he married Alma Schindler, she who at various times also had married several other literati, including Gustav Mahler and Franz Werfel. During World War I, Gropius served with the German cavalry, but he left Nazi Germany in 1934. By 1937, he had accepted a position at Harvard University in the United States. He was a pioneer in the field of building component construction and design (prefabrication). In the year 2009, the Bauhaus celebrates its 90th anniversary: More HERE.

The Architects Collaborative (TAC) introduced a then innovative group-approach to design. Formed in December 1945, with Walter Gropius as the senior member, the young founders of TAC brought the studio team method from their architectural school training into the professional sphere. Most were graduates of the School of Architecture at Yale, not Harvard. Gropius himself designed Harkness Commons / Graduate Center at Harvard (1947-49), as well as, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Bundesverwaltungsgebäude (Boston 1961-66). The firm went on to design numerous other buildings in the U.S. and abroad, including Baghdad University (1957); the iconic Pan American World Airways Building (MetLife) in New York (1958); the firm’s own headquarters at 4-6 Story Street (1966); the Johns-Manville World Headquarters in Colorado (1973); the Bauhaus-Archive in Berlin {Museum für Gestaltung} (1976); Glaswerke der Thomas Glas- und Porzellan-AG (Amberg in der Oberpfalz 1968) and the U.S. Embassy in Athens (1956-61). A more complete listing of all his works along with a history of the Bauhaus can be found at,CmC=681134.html (français) oder heir (auf deutsch).

Leipzig: The city lies in upper Saxony, on the River Saale. Lyon is its French Sister City. Between 1765 and 1768, Johann Wolfgang Goethe studied in Leipzig. A scene from his celebrated "Faust", "Auerbach's Cellar in Leipzig", made the restaurant world-famous. Mein Leipzig lob' ich mir! Es ist ein klein Paris und bildet seine Leute [Goethe's Faust, Pt. I]. Johann Sebastian Bach was Leipzig's musical director – director ‘musices lipsiensis’ – and choirmaster of the St Thomas' Boys Choir between 1723 and 1750. The city has dedicated itself to maintaining Bach's heritage with the Bach Archives, the Bach Museum, the St Thomas' Boys Choir, and the Gewandhaus Orchestra. The Mendelssohn house is the only surviving residence of the composer Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and the place where he died. Today, the structure houses a museum, where many exhibits including Mendelssohn's original furniture are on display. Composer Richard Wagner also was a student in Leipzig. More in English und auf deutsch at:

Leipzig was the starting point for the events which led to the Peaceful Revolution of 1989. One can visit the original locations at St. Nicholas' Church, where after the Prayers for Peace were said. The demonstrations started along Augustusplatz and the central ring road to the headquarters of the secret police (Stasi). These demonstrations expanded to other cities like East Berlin as Czechoslovakia opened its borders to the west. By November 10, 1989, the long post-war nightmare was at an end. Leipzig hosts the largest memorial complex in Europe, with a viewing platform 91 metres above ground. It was erected to commemorate the nearby site of the Battle of the Nations (1813), the action which defeated the Emperor of France for the first time and caused his exile to Elba. The builders completed this monument (Völkerschlachtdenkmal) in October 1913, less than one year before Germany and the rest of Europe were at war again.

Leipzig, first documented in 1015, has fundamentally shaped the history of Saxony and German Kultur. Leipzig, endowed with city and market privileges in 1165, has always been known as a place of commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair (Leipziger Messe), which began in the Middle Ages, is touted as the oldest remaining trade fair in the world. It became an event of international importance. -- Pics of the fair and of Leipzig are HERE.

For a slightly longer period of time, a church has occupied the site of the Thomaskirche (since the 12th century). Between 1212 and 1222 the pre-existing church became the worship place for a new St. Thomas Monastery, an Augustinian Order. In 1217, The Minnesinger (or troubador) Heinrich von Morungen bequeathed to the church a relic of Saint Thomas as he entered the holy canon of ministry and service upon his return from India (where the Saint was said to have done missionary work). After several reconstructions (remains of an earlier Romanesque-style church were found during archæological excavations), the current building (an example of late Gothic-style) was consecrated by Thilo of Trotha, the Bishop of Merseburg, on April 10, 1496. The great reformer, Martin Luther, preached here on Pentecost Sunday in 1539. On Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 1539, explorer Hernando DeSoto sailed up Old Tampa Bay and named the springs he found there ”Espiritu Santo” (Holy Spirit) in honor of the religious holiday. (Archbishop Cranmer had insight into this; his 1539 translation of Acts 2:1 is as follows -- “When the fifty days had come to an end, they were all with one accord in one place.”) But, as usual, I digreß.

Today, Thomaskirche is a Lutheran church. After the destruction of the Leipziger Johanneskirche in World War II, the remains of Johann Sebastian Bach were moved from those ruins to the Thomaskirche (1950). The current altar, installed in 1993, is the former Gothic altar of the Paulinerkirche, the university church of the University of Leipzig, destroyed in 1968 by the Communist authorities.

It was while Telemann was a student at Leipzig University that his career in music became inevitable. At first, he was expected to study language (that would be Latin Greek and Hebrew) and the sciences (with a strong grounding in math), however already so capable as a musician, within a year of his arrival he founded the student Collegium Musicum with which he gave public concerts (and which Bach was later to direct) and wrote operatic works for the Leipzig Theatre. In 1703, Telemann became musical director of the Leipzig Opera and was appointed organist at the Neue Kirche a year later (1704).

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A few German Cities: Lörrach {twin city of Sens} -- Mainz -- Trier and Aachen -- Frankfurt -- Köln / Cologne -- Dresden -- Essen -- Duisburg, Düsseldorf und Dortmund -- Düren, Bonn und Koblenz -- Baden-Baden, Karlsruhe, Speyer, Kaiserslautern und Saarbrücken -- Mannheim, Worms, Darmstadt und Würzburg -- Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Stuttgart und Tübingen -- Münster -- Lübeck, Kiel, Rostock und Schwerin -- Fulda, Kassel und Erfurt -- Switzerland: Geneva -- Bern, Basel and Zurich


Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historiæ -- Anglo Saxons

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