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Leipzig

Leipzig

Leipzig is the largest city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. With its population of 544,479 inhabitants (1,001,220 residents in the larger urban zone) Leipzig, one of Germany’s top 15 cities by population, is located about 160 kilometers (99 miles) southwest of Berlin at the confluence of the White Elster, Pleisse, and Parthe rivers at the southerly end of the North German Plain.

Leipzig has been a trade city since at least the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The city sits at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important Medieval trade routes. Leipzig was once one of the major European centers of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing. Leipzig became a major urban center within the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) after World War II, but its cultural and economic importance declined despite East Germany being the richest economy in the Soviet Bloc.

Leipzig later played a significant role in instigating the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, through events which took place in and around St. Nicholas Church. Since the reunification of Germany, Leipzig has undergone significant change with the restoration of some historical buildings, the demolition of others, and the development of a modern transport infrastructure.Leipzig today is an economic center and the most livable city in Germany, according to the GfK marketing research institution.Oper Leipzig is one of the most prominent opera houses in Germany, and Leipzig Zoological Garden is one of the most modern zoos in Europe and ranks first in Germany and second in Europe according to Anthony Sheridan. Leipzig is currently listed as Gamma World City and Germany’s “Boomtown”. Outside of Leipzig the Neuseenland district forms a huge lake area by approx 116 square miles (300 square kilometres).

History

Name

Leipzig is derived from the Slavic word Lipsk, which means “settlement where the linden trees (British English: lime trees; U.S. English: basswood trees) stand”. An older spelling of the name in English is Leipsic. The Latin name Lipsia was also used.[15]

In 1937 the Nazi government officially renamed the city Reichsmessestadt Leipzig (Imperial Trade Fair City Leipzig).

More recently, the city is sometimes nicknamed “Boomtown of eastern Germany”, “Hypezig” or “The new Berlin” for being celebrated by the media as a hip urban center for the vital lifestyle and creative scene with many startups. and is well known asHero City (Heldenstadt) according to the Heldenstadt blog.

Nineteenth century

The Leipzig region was the arena of the 1813 Battle of Leipzig between Napoleonic France and an allied coalition of Prussia, Russia, Austria, and Sweden. It was the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I and the coalition victory ended Napoleon’s presence in Germany and would ultimately lead to his first exile on Elba. In 1913 the Monument to the Battle of the Nations celebrating the centenary of this event was completed.

A terminus of the first German long distance railway to Dresden (the capital of Saxony) in 1839, Leipzig became a hub of Central European railway traffic, with Leipzig Hauptbahnhof the largest terminal station by area in Europe. The train station has two grand entrance halls, the eastern one for the Royal Saxon State Railways and the western one for the Prussian state railways.

Leipzig became a center of the German and Saxon liberal movements. The first German labor party, the General German Workers’ Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV) was founded in Leipzig on 23 May 1863 by Ferdinand Lassalle; about 600 workers from across Germany travelled to the foundation on the new railway line. Leipzig expanded rapidly to more than 700.000 inhabitants. Huge Gründerzeit areas were built, which mostly survived both war and post-war demolition.

 Augustusplatz with Leipzig Opera House, around 1900

Twentieth century

With the opening of a fifth production hall in 1907, the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei became the largest cotton mill company on the continent, housing over 240,000 spindles. Daily production surpassed 5 million  kilograms of yarn.

The city’s mayor from 1930 to 1937, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler was a noted opponent of the Nazi regime in Germany. He resigned in 1937 when, in his absence, his Nazi deputy ordered the destruction of the city’s statue of Felix Mendelssohn. On Kristallnacht in 1938, one of the city’s most architecturally significant buildings, the 1855 Moorish Revival Leipzig synagogue was deliberately destroyed.

 Leipzig after bombing in World War II

Several thousand forced laborers were stationed in Leipzig during World War II.

The city was also heavily damaged by Allied bombing during World War II. Unlike its neighboring city of Dresden this was largely conventional bombing, with high explosives rather than incendiaries. The resultant pattern of loss was a patchwork, rather than wholesale  loss of its center, but was nevertheless extensive.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Leipzig in late April 1945. The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division and U.S. 69th Infantry Division fought into the city on 18 April and completed its capture after fierce urban combat, in which fighting was often house-to-house and block-to-block, on 19 April 1945. In April 1945 the Deputy Mayor of Leipzig, Ernest Lisso, his wife, daughter and aVolkssturm Major Walter Dönicke committed suicide in the Leipzig City Hall.

The U.S. turned the city over to the Red Army as it pulled back from the line of contact with Soviet forces in July 1945 to the predesignated occupation zone boundaries. Leipzig became one of the major cities of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

In the mid-20th century, the city’s trade fair assumed renewed importance as a point of contact with the Comecon Eastern Europe economic bloc, of which East Germany was a member. At this time, trade fairs were held at a site in the south of the city, near the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.

Federal Administrative Court of Germany
Monument to the Battle of the Nations
View over Augustusplatz with Gewandhaus, the 153 meters high City-Hochhaus Leipzig and theAugusteum of the University of Leipzig

In October 1989, after prayers for peace at St. Nicholas Church, established in 1983 as part of the peace movement, the Monday demonstrations started as the most prominent mass protest against the East German regime. Since the reunification of Germany, Leipzig has undergone significant change with the restoration of some historical buildings, the demolition of others, and the development of a modern transport infrastructure. Nowadays, Leipzig is an economic center in eastern Germany. Leipzig was the German candidate for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but was unsuccessful. After ten years of construction, the Leipzig City Tunnelopened on 14 December 2013.

Geography

The White Elster in the Plagwitz district of Leipzig

 The Leipzig Riverside Forest

Leipzig lies at the confluence of the rivers White Elster, Pleisse, and Parthe, in the Leipzig Bay, on the most southerly part of the North German Plain, which is the part of the North European Plain in Germany. The site is characterized by swampy areas such as the Leipzig Riverside Forest, though there are also some limestone areas to the north of the city. The landscape is mostly flat though there is also some evidence of moraine and drumlins.

Although there are some forest parks within the city limits, the area surrounding Leipzig is relatively unforested. During the 20th century, there were several open-cast mines in the region, many of which are being converted to use as lakes. See: Neuseenland district

Leipzig is also situated at the intersection of the ancient roads known as the Via Regia (King’s highway), which traversed Germanic lands in an east-west direction, and Via Imperii (Imperial Highway), a north-south road.

Leipzig was a walled city in the Middle Ages and the current “ring” road around the historic center of the city corresponds to the old city walls.

(View Source)

Adam Balogh
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