Siege of Wittenberg (1760)

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Siege of Wittenberg
Part of: Seven Years War
Bombing of Wittenberg on October 13, 1760, copper engraving from Georgis Wittenberg's lament story
Bombing of Wittenberg on October 13, 1760, copper engraving from Georgis Wittenberg's lament story
date October 10, 1760 to October 14, 1760
place Wittenberg
output Victory of the Imperial Army
Parties to the conflict

Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Prussia

Holy Roman Empire 1400Holy Roman Empire Holy Roman Empire ( Imperial Army )


Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Constantine of Salenmon

Holy Roman Empire 1400Holy Roman Empire Duke of Zweibrücken

Troop strength
Approx. 2,000 men Unknown

Entire crew


The siege of Wittenberg was an episode of the Seven Years' War , which from the 1750s onwards became explosive due to the intensification of denominational differences between Prussia and Austria. During the three-day siege by the Imperial Army , the Wittenberg Castle Church was destroyed as a result of the bombing on October 13, 1760 . Due to uncontrollable fires, the Prussian garrison was forced to surrender.


When the Seven Years' War broke out, Wittenberg was an important border fortress of the Electorate of Saxony , which belonged to the anti-Prussian coalition. During the war it changed occupiers several times and was defended in October 1760 by a Prussian garrison under Lieutenant Colonel Konstantin Nathanael von Salenmon (1710–1797), which consisted of a battalion of the von Grolman garrison regiment and the two battalions of the von Plotho regiment (formerly Saxon ) duration.

Siege and Surrender

Depiction of the siege in the newly opened Historical Picture Hall two years after the event

On September 29th, Colonel von Zedtwitz managed to storm the Wittenberger Brückenschanze. The Prussian troops were initially able to offer resistance.

On October 4th, however, Wittenberg was trapped and the construction of approach trenches began. On October 10, 1760, the Imperial Army advanced under the command of the Duke of Zweibrücken in front of the city and called on the crew to surrender. Salenmon refused the call to surrender, whereupon the trenches were opened on October 11th. The artillery began bombarding the city and was able to set fire to the buildings near the powder tower.
On October 13, three artillery batteries under the command of the imperial-royal artillery major Anton Grumbach began bombing Wittenberg. Large parts of the city were set on fire: most of the wooden interior of the castle church was lost as a result of the bombing. The wooden door on which, according to popular belief, Luther posted the theses and his grave were burned. In the evening, a command of volunteers from the Imperial Army, under the command of Major General Count Wartensleben, stormed the covered path of the fortress and took an officer and 30 soldiers prisoner. Since the town fire made it difficult to defend the walls, a storm attack was feared and the fire seriously threatened the powder magazine, the Prussian occupation had to surrender the following day. Salenmon had the shame beaten and his three battalions had to lay down their arms on the fortress glacis on October 14th .


Wittenberg after the bombardment, copper engraving from Georgis Wittenberg's lament story

The Imperial Army captured 15 flags, a large magazine, 28 cannons and 6 mortars. Most of the Prussian prisoners of war were quartered and guarded in the imperial city of Memmingen after the surrender .

The destruction of the important Lutheran memorial site caused considerable media coverage. Since the Reichsarmee in Wittenberg championed the interests of the Lutheran Electorate of Saxony and u. a. consisted of associations from the Electorate of Saxony, no anti-Lutheran intentions could be assumed. The regret, however, was great. An anonymous author wrote in the style of Gleim's war songs :

“Towards the temple of the Lord, where Luther once steadfastly taught.
Should my foot confidently carry me as I seek salvation.
Then I want - - O wrath of the righteous! here too there is destruction and flame!
The loyal chair of the first courageous teacher,
Zum wild Grabmaal, falls over his slumbering legs. "

An official Prussian report appeared in numerous British newspapers attacking the imperial army's approach to the siege. Wittenberg had been laid to rubble and ashes without any necessity and the gunfire had only been directed to a very small extent on the ramparts.


  • Capitulation points at the Prussian handover of the Wittenberg fortress to the combined Reich Army, from October 14th. 1760 , in: Teutsche Kriegs-Canzley on the year 1760, vol. 2, Frankfurt / Leipzig [sine anno], pp. 509-511 (no. 79).
  • The newly opened historical picture room Dreyzehenter Theil. In which the general world history from the year 1756 to 1760, under Emperor Franz I, especially the war that spread through Europe, is described with a lot of diligence, honestly and impartially, and the most noble events are presented in graceful coppers, Nuremberg 1760, p. 612f.
  • A stranger's feelings during the bombing of Wittenberg on October 13, 1760 , [no location] 1761. (Digital copy of the ULB Saxony-Anhalt)
  • Christian Siegmund Georgi: Wittenbergische Klage-Geschichte, which about the heavy and pitiful bombardment, with which this Chur and main city, on October 13th, 1760, was frightened and largely transformed into a pile of stones, designed and explained with copper by Christian Siegismund Georgi, the salvation. Writes Doct. and public teachers etc. , Wittenberg [1760]. (Digital copy of the SLUB Dresden)
  • Daniel Wilhelm Triller: Wittenberg in the fire of the siege, October 13, 1760. Poetically described by Daniel Wilhelm Triller, Königl. Pohln. and Churfürstl. Sächsischen Hofrath, as well as the first public teacher of the Arzney scholarship in Wittenberg, fifth improved and well over half, increased edition. In addition to an appendix of various new poems belonging to this, Wittenberg 1761. (digitized version of SLUB Dresden)
  • Militair-Conversations-Lexikon, Volume 8, p.838
  • Henry Lloyd, Georg Friedrich von Tempelhof, The History of the Seven Years' War in Germany , 1789, Volume 4, p.280


  • Stephan Reinert: A dome over the reformer graves. The Dresden Frauenkirche as a model for a reconstruction project of the Wittenberg Castle Church, which was destroyed in the war in 1760 , in: The Dresden Frauenkirche. Yearbook on their past and present 14 (2010), pp. 173–184.
  • Andreas Stahl: A castle under fire. The sieges of the Electoral Saxon state fortress Wittenberg 1760 and 1813/14 , in: Burgen und Schlösser in Sachsen-Anhalt 22 (2013), pp. 405–471.
  • Heinrich Christoph Gottlieb Stier (ed.): The castle church in Wittenberg. Overview of their history up to the present; on the secular memory of the two years 1560 and 1760 , Wittenberg 1860. (digital copy from SLUB Dresden)
  • Hans-Walter Voigtländer: Prussian prisoners of war in Memmingen. A contribution to the history of the imperial-free city during the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) (Memminger Forschungen 7), Memmingen 2000.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ On denominational aspects of the Seven Years 'War, Antje Fuchs: The Seven Years' War as a virtual religious war using examples from Prussia, Austria, Kurhannover and Great Britain , in: Franz Brendle / Anton Schindling (eds.): Religionskriege im Alten Reich und in Alteuropa, Münster 2006, pp. 313-343.
  2. ^ Stefan Kroll: Soldiers in the 18th century between everyday peace and experience of war. Living worlds and culture in the Electoral Saxon Army 1728-1796 (War in History 26), Paderborn [u. a.] 2006, p. 69.
  3. ^ On the battalion of the Grolman regiment: Günther Gieraths: Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburg-Prussischen Army, 1626-1807. A source handbook (publications of the Historical Commission in Berlin at the Friedrich Meinecke Institute of the Free University of Berlin 8), Berlin 1964, p. 306. On the regiment of Plotho: ibid., P. 356.
  4. Herbert J. Redman: Frederick the Great and the Seven Years' War, 1756-1763 , Jefferson (North Carolina), 395.
  5. ^ Louis von Malinowsky, History of the Brandenburg-Prussian Artillery , Volume 3, p.279
  6. A stranger's feelings during the bombing of Wittenberg on October 13, 1760 , [no location] 1761, p. 8. ( digitized version )
  7. An account of the barbarous manner, in which the Russian, Austrian, and Saxon troops, laid waste the Marche of Brandenburgh; and of the cruelties they committed in the month of October, 1760, in their expedition against the city of Berlin. Published at Berlin by authority , in: The Annual Register or a View of the History, Politicks, and Literature, Of the Year 1760, R. and J. Dodsley London 1761, pp. 210-217, here 216 (Wittenberg). (Google Books digitized version)