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Coat of arms of Dessau
Coordinates: 51 ° 50 ′ 3 ″  N , 12 ° 14 ′ 16 ″  E
Height : 64  (59-66)  m above sea level NHN
Incorporation : July 1, 2007
Postal code : 06842, 06844, 06846, 06847, 06849
Area code : 0340
Dessau (Saxony-Anhalt)

Location of Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt

View of Dessau from the Mulde
View of Dessau from the Mulde
The Bauhaus , built in 1926 according to plans by Walter Gropius , is a landmark in Dessau.

Dessau is a district of the independent city of Dessau-Roßlau in Saxony-Anhalt . Until July 1, 2007 Dessau was an independent city . Measured by the number of inhabitants, Dessau was the third largest city in Saxony-Anhalt after Halle (Saale) and Magdeburg (the second largest in terms of area) and one of the three regional centers in the state. The closest larger cities are Halle (Saale), about 40 km southwest, Leipzig , about 52 km south, and Magdeburg, about 65 km northwest. Historically, Dessau was the capital and residence of the prince, later duchy of Anhalt-Dessau and Anhalt . 80% of the city was destroyed in the air raids on Dessau in World War II.



Hunting bridge on the Mulde near Dessau

Dessau is located in the middle of an extensive meadow landscape on both sides of the lower Mulde , which flows into the Elbe north of the city . The city is regularly threatened by floods, as the water in the Mulde can no longer drain into the Elbe after heavy rainfall and it backs up; in 2002 the district of Waldersee was completely flooded.

In the south the city borders on the wooded Mosigkauer Heide, in which the pigeon springs. Dessau lies at an altitude of 61  m above sea level. NN . The highest point is the approx. 110 m high former garbage dump (Scherbelberg) in the southwest of the city. Dessau is surrounded by numerous palaces and parks and is therefore one of the greenest cities in Germany.

City structure

For statistical purposes, the urban area of ​​Dessau was divided into 21 city ​​districts and 49 statistical districts.

In terms of administration, 10 localities have been created for Dessau in accordance with Section 14 of the main statutes . These were formerly independent communities. Each village had a local council that had between three and seven members, depending on the number of inhabitants. The local mayor was the chairman of the local council . The local councils were heard on important matters affecting the locality. The final decision, however, was left to the city council of Dessau as a whole.

The ten towns of Dessau (the number of inhabitants as of December 31, 2006 in brackets; 60,496 inhabitants are not assigned to any of these towns):

  • Dessau-Großkühnau (1,025)
  • Dessau-Kleinkühnau (1,761)
  • Dessau-Mosigkau (2,212)
  • Dessau-Kochstedt (4,343)
  • Dessau-Waldersee (2,656)
  • Dessau-Mildensee (2,136)
  • Dessau-Kleutsch (424)
  • Dessau-Sollnitz (270)
  • Dessau-Rodleben (1,561)
  • Dessau-Brambach (396)


12th to 20th century

Dessau in the 17th century

As a trading center at the crossroads of trading routes on the Mulde near its confluence with the Elbe, Dessau was first mentioned in a document in 1213. The trading post developed into an agricultural town. For a long time already the castle of the Ascanians , Dessau became the permanent residence of the princes of Anhalt-Dessau and Anhalt in 1470 . The conversion of the castle into a palace and the expansion of St. Mary's Church were the first building activities of the princes to upgrade the residence. The city had only limited self-government, so that the history of the city is inextricably linked with the history of Anhalt-Dessau and the Princely House.

The Reformation was initially hesitantly accepted. As late as 1526, Catholic princes in Dessau joined forces to form the Dessau Bund . 1534 the Reformation by George III. but officially introduced. In 1552, many inhabitants of Dessau fell victim to the plague and Prince Joachim evacuated the farm to Warmsdorf Castle near Güsten .

At the end of the 16th century, the city experienced an economic boom, which the Thirty Years War put to an end. The Elbe bridge near Roßlau made Dessau a marching area for numerous troops from all warring sides and the scene of a great battle in 1626, the Battle of the Elbe Bridge . It was not until the end of the 17th century that Dessau was able to pick up on the pre-war development, supported by the prince's active settlement policy. A large Jewish community also developed. During the reign of Leopold I , the Old Dessau , Dessau was converted into a baroque residence and expanded.

Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm , by Leopold III. Friedrich Franz created

In the second half of the 18th century under Prince Leopold III. Friedrich Franz Dessau became a center of the Enlightenment in Germany, which attracted European attention with a profound reform work in education and national culture and the establishment of the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Empire as well as numerous buildings in the style of classicism .

The industrialization of the region began in 1844 with the founding of the machine factory of the Sachsenberg brothers in Roßlau. Dessau was with the industrial companies u. a. the Berlin-Anhaltische Maschinenbau AG ( BAMAG , founded 1872) and the Dessauer Waggonfabrik (1895) to a city of machine and vehicle construction and with the Dessauer Actien Zucker Raffinerie founded in 1871 also the food industry. The aircraft construction of the later Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke , which was operated in Dessau from 1915, began in the local factory for gas bath stoves by Junkers & Co. founded in 1895.

The Bauhaus , founded in Weimar in 1919, was relocated to the Bauhaus Dessau building planned by Walter Gropius in 1925/26 . On August 22, 1932, at the request of the NSDAP faction , the Dessau municipal council passed a resolution to dissolve the Bauhaus, with the SPD abstaining and the mayor voting against and the four votes from the KPD, on October 1, 1932. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe then led it continued as a private institution in Berlin until mid-1933.

Since 1918 the capital of the Free State of Anhalt , Dessau was initially an independent city, on January 1, 1932, the district town of the newly formed Dessau-Köthen district , after 1933, capital of the NSDAP district of Magdeburg-Anhalt and, through the incorporation of Roßlau , became a major city in 1935 . As in many other German cities, the Old Synagogue was burned down during the Reichspogromnacht in 1938 and the remaining Jews were deported in the period that followed.

The city of Dessau and the Junkers aircraft and engine works on the outskirts of Dessau were the target of a total of 20 Allied air raids from 1940 . Parts of the residential development on the south-western outskirts as well as railway systems were also damaged. On March 7, 1945, the densely populated city center of Dessau became the core target of a night British bombing raid under the Area Bombing Directive , with 520 heavy Lancaster bombers and 1,700 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs. The air strike killed 700 people and destroyed 80 percent of the built-up urban area. In the old town almost 97 percent of all buildings were completely destroyed or irreversibly damaged. The historical cityscape with its churches, palace complexes, many public buildings, aristocratic and civil buildings was almost completely lost. The very high degree of destruction is due in particular to the combination of incendiary and high- explosive bombs , including many air mines .

In the course of the reorganization and the ordinance of July 23, 1945, the state of Anhalt came to the province of Saxony on February 1, 1946 and together with it formed the new state of Saxony-Anhalt with the districts of Dessau, Magdeburg and Merseburg. The Roßlau district was spun off from the city of Dessau again.

After 1945 Dessau lost its capital city function, but was still the seat of the district government until 1952 and was assigned to the Halle district from 1952 . The city center and several cultural buildings were rebuilt in the style of the time. From 1972 onwards again temporarily in a major city, Dessau remained an industrial city with a focus on machine, plant and wagon construction and became the largest brewery location in the GDR era. After the fall of 1989/1990, the industrial base was largely lost and high unemployment led to the emigration of residents, which was met with incorporations. Dessau now came to the re-established state of Saxony-Anhalt . The city was designated as the seat of the administrative district of Dessau .

In April 1992 the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences (now: Anhalt University of Applied Sciences ) was founded in the historic Bauhaus building, and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in 1994 .


Former parish date annotation
Old people 10/01/1923 Incorporation to Dessau
Brambach 01/01/2005 Incorporation to Dessau
Dellnau 05/01/1930
Incorporation after Dessau,
merger with Pötnitz and Scholitz zu Mildensee
Dessau 07/01/2007 Merger with Roßlau / Elbe to form Dessau-Roßlau
Großkühnau 10/01/1923 Incorporation to Dessau
Haideburg, manor district 01/01/1949 Incorporation to Dessau
Jonitz 05/01/1930
Incorporation in Dessau
Outsourcing from Dessau
Merger with Naundorf to Jonitz-Naundorf
Jonitz-Naundorf 07/24/1935 Renaming to Waldersee
Kleinkühnau 10/01/1923 Incorporation to Dessau
Kleutsch 07/01/1994 Incorporation to Dessau
Kochstedt 07/01/1950 Incorporation to Dessau
Mildensee 11/01/1945 Incorporation to Dessau
Mosigkau 07/25/1952 Incorporation to Dessau
Naundorf 05/01/1930
Incorporation to Dessau . Spin-
off from Dessau.
Merger with Jonitz zu Jonitz-Naundorf
Neeken 07/01/1950 Incorporation to Brambach
Poetnitz 05/01/1930
Incorporation to Dessau,
merger with Scholitz and Dellnau to Mildensee
Rietzmeck 07/01/1950 Incorporation to Brambach
Rodleben 01/01/2005 Incorporation to Dessau
Rosslau (Elbe) 01.04.1935
Incorporation to Dessau
Outsourcing from Dessau
Merger with Dessau to Dessau-Roßlau
Scholitz 05/01/1930
Incorporation after Dessau,
merger with Pötnitz and Dellnau to Mildensee
Sollnitz 07/01/1994 Incorporation to Dessau
Tornau 07/01/1950 Incorporation to Rodleben
Killing 10/01/1923 Incorporation to Dessau
Waldersee 11/01/1945 Incorporation to Dessau
Ziebigk 10/01/1923 Incorporation to Dessau

Population development

Anhaltisches Theater , former state theater

The population of the city of Dessau already exceeded the limit of 100,000 on April 1, 1935 with the incorporation of Roßlau , making it a large city . In 1940 the population reached its historic high of 131,400. Due to the severe destruction in World War II and the spin-off of Roßlau on April 1, 1945, the population fell again below the limit of 100,000 and was 85,663 in December 1945. That is a decrease of 35 percent compared to 1940.

In 1972 the population exceeded 100,000 again. Since the fall of the Wall in the GDR (1989), the population had fallen by a quarter from around 103,000 to less than 80,000 - due to emigration and a negative birth / death rate. To counteract this trend, incorporations have been prepared. Nevertheless, it was not possible to reach the city limits. On December 31, 2006, the “ official population ” for Dessau was 77,394 according to the state statistical office of Saxony-Anhalt (only main residences and after comparison with the other state offices).

Language development (dialect)

A regionally colored High German is spoken in Dessau nowadays . The dialects in Saxony-Anhalt , however, have a characteristic dialect in the region around the former residential cities of Dessau , Köthen (Anhalt) and Bernburg (Saale) and in some cases also Zerbst . A typical regiolect is the Anhalt dialect ("Das Anhaltische"), which is cultivated here in book literature as prose and also as poetry up to the present day . This dialect encompasses a settlement area of ​​the former principalities and later duchies of Anhalt-Dessau , Anhalt-Köthen , Anhalt-Bernburg with temporarily Anhalt-Plötzkau and partly to the north of Anhalt-Zerbst .


The city of Dessau belonged to the Archdiocese of Magdeburg from the beginning . For this reason the Reformation reached Dessau later than Cöthen (1525) and Bernburg (Saale) (1526). Only in 1534 was George III. the Reformation officially introduced in Dessau. After that there were adherents of both the Lutheran and the Reformed creed. The predominance of both creeds changed several times in the course of history. In 1827 a union of both denominations was carried out ( Uniate Church ). After the unification of the principalities of Anhalt in 1863, Dessau was the capital and thus also the seat of the church administration of the Evangelical Church of Anhalt , which was given a synodal basis between 1875 and 1878. After the First World War , the regional church was headed by a senior church councilor who has held the title of church president since 1957 . Its official seat is in Dessau. The Protestant parishes in Dessau belong - if they are not free churches - to the parish of Dessau, which is divided into several regions.

From 1750 there were again Catholics in Dessau, the number of whom kept increasing. In 1858 they got their own church again. They belonged to the diocese from 1821 and from 1929 to the archdiocese of Paderborn . After the Second World War , it became increasingly difficult for the archbishop to exercise his official duties in the eastern part of his archbishopric. Therefore, a vicar general was installed in Magdeburg in 1946, who was appointed auxiliary bishop in 1949 and whose administrative district also included the parishes in Dessau. On July 23, 1973 an episcopal office was established, the jurisdiction of which was transferred to the bishop and apostolic administrator in Magdeburg, Johannes Braun . This episcopal office officially belonged to the Archdiocese of Paderborn and the apostolic administrator was accordingly only active there as auxiliary bishop, but it actually developed into an independent diocese. On July 8, 1994, the previous episcopal office of Magdeburg was elevated to a diocese and (again) subordinated to the Archdiocese of Paderborn as a suffragan diocese. The catholic parishes of Dessau belong to the deanery Dessau within the diocese of Magdeburg .

Apart from the two large churches and the free churches , there is again a Jewish community in Dessau, the city from which Moses Mendelssohn and Kurt Weill come . It has around 350 members and today consists mainly of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Most of the inhabitants of Dessau are non-denominational, as in most places in the former GDR.


Side view of the Dessau town hall
Mayor Maria Dank (back left)
Mayor Thea Hauschild with family

The self-government of the citizenship in Dessau was first mentioned in 1372. At the head of the city stood the mayor appointed by the respective prince, who together with the lay judges formed the council. From 1372 the council was divided into two "means", from 1600 into three and from 1785 again into two means. In 1832 the council constitution was repealed. Until then, the mayors in Dessau changed almost every year. After that there was a city council and a city council in the city. Up until that time a distinction was made between a “city under the council” and a “city under the office”, the latter being under princely administration and court. Both “cities” were united in 1834. In 1852 a new city order was introduced. After that, the mayor carried the title of Lord Mayor. In the time of National Socialism , the mayor was appointed by the NSDAP and after the Second World War the “City Council” was formed as an executive with a mayor in accordance with the requirements of the occupying power in the Soviet occupation zone and after 1949 in the GDR . The city council was elected by the eligible population. After the political changes in the GDR in 1989/1990, this body, known as the City Council from 1994 , was freely elected again. The mayor, initially appointed by the city council, has been directly elected since 1994.

City leaders

The following persons were councilors:

  • 1597: Full councilor Happach

The following persons were council treasurers:

  • 1601: Full councilor Happach
  • 1618, 1635: Johann Happach (son of Vollrat Happach)

From 1617 the following people were mayors of Dessau several times:

  • Vollrat Happach, 1617–?
  • Johann Leopold Stubenrauch, between 1771 and 1828 mayor alternating with others every year
  • Ludwig Gustav Meyer, 1801, 1803, 1805
  • Karl Friedrich Bornkessel, 1807, 1809, 1811, 1813
  • Marius Leopold Friedrich Siebigk, 1815 to 1834, alternating annually with others
  • 1834–1848: Georg Gottfried Richter, City Director
  • 1848–1852: Karl Wilhelm Fritsche, mayor
  • 1852–1884: Franz Medicus, Lord Mayor from 1864
  • 1884–1897: Friedrich Funk , Lord Mayor
  • 1898–1918: Ernst Ebeling , Lord Mayor
  • 1918–1933: Fritz Hesse ( DDP ), mayor, from 1927 mayor
  • 1933: Emil Evers ( NSDAP ), acting
  • 1933–1945: Hanns Sander (NSDAP), Lord Mayor
  • 1945: Friedrich Walther (independent), Lord Mayor
  • 1945–1946: Fritz Hesse ( LDPD ), Lord Mayor
  • 1946–1949: Karl Adolphs ( SED ), Lord Mayor
  • 1949–1951: Lisa Krause (SED), Lord Mayor
  • 1951–1961: Maria Dank (SED), Lord Mayor
  • 1955–1956: Paul Zabel, Lord Mayor in a transitional period
  • 1961–1963: Helmut Klapproth (SED), Lord Mayor
  • 1963–1984: Thea Hauschild (SED), Lord Mayor
  • 1984–1990: Sylvia Retzke (SED), Lord Mayor
  • 1990: Christoph Döring, Lord Mayor (was acting Lord Mayor from 1987 to 1988, while Retzke was at the party college)
  • 1990–1994: Jürgen Neubert ( FDP ), Lord Mayor
  • 1994–2006: Hans-Georg Otto ( SPD / later: independent), Lord Mayor
  • From November 1st, 2006, after the retirement of Hans-Georg Otto, the city of Dessau was headed by the head of the building department Karl Gröger until the merger with the city of Roßlau on July 1st, 2007.

City council

The last city council of Dessau before the merger with Roßlau was elected in the local elections on June 13, 2004 and was composed as follows:

Lord Mayor: 1 seat

The chairman of the city council was Stefan Exner (CDU).

coat of arms

Former Dessau city coat of arms

Blazon : “Split with a golden-red quartered shield foot, in front in silver at the split a red, gold-armored eagle with a red tongue; at the back divided nine times by black and gold, covered diagonally on the right with a green diamond wreath. The coat of arms is crowned by five red battlements. The city colors show gold (yellow) and red. "

The coat of arms has its origin in the heart shield of the Principality of Anhalt, whose residence city Dessau was. It has been in use since 1540. The eagle stands for the margraviate of Brandenburg , the bar and diamond wreath for the duchy of Saxony . The four-part shield base was later interpreted as a symbol for the rule of Waldersee . The battlements that have crowned the coat of arms since 1952 are a free ingredient.

See also

Information on permanent facilities and sights are listed under Dessau-Roßlau .


Born in Dessau

Until 1800

1801 to 1900

1901 to 1950

From 1951

Associated with Dessau



  • Manfred Sundermann (Ed.): Junkers. Dessau - mechanical city? Anhalt Edition Dessau 2002, ISBN 3-936383-06-5 .
  • Bernd G. Ulbrich: Dessau in the 20th century. 800 years of Dessau-Roßlau. A City History, Volume 2 . Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle (Saale) 2014, ISBN 978-3-95462-121-7 .
  • Erich Keyser (Ed.): German city book. Urban History Handbook. Volume II: Central Germany. On behalf of the Conference of the Regional History Commissions of Germany with the support of the German Municipal Association, Stuttgart, 1941
  • Thomas Brockmeier, Dirk Hackenholz (ed.): Rise, Fall & New Beginning. On the economic development of the Junkers and Bauhaus town of Dessau (Anhalt) in the 19th and 20th centuries . Mitteldeutscher Verlag, Halle (Saale) 2010, ISBN 978-3-89812-714-1
  • Renate Kroll: Dessau (Stadtkreis Dessau) in the fate of German monuments in World War II . Volume 2. Ed. Götz Eckardt. Berlin, Henschel-Verlag 1978.
  • Olaf Groehler : Anhalt in the air war 1940-1945 . Anhaltische Verlagsanstalt, Dessau 1993. ISBN 3-910192-05-X
  • Frank Kreisler. Archive pictures Dessau . Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 1999. ISBN 978-3-89702-167-9 .
  • Hans-Joachim Böttcher. Along the Mulde between Eilenburg and Dessau . Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2010. ISBN 978-3-86680-653-5 .

Web links

Commons : Dessau  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Dessau  - Sources and full texts
Wikivoyage: Dessau  - travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. ^ StBA: Changes in the municipalities in Germany, see 2007
  2. ^ City administration Dessau
  3. ^ Renate Kroll: Fate of German Monuments in World War II . Ed. Götz Eckardt, Henschel-Verlag Berlin, 1978. Volume 2, pp. 305–323.
  4. ^ Home calendar 1947 for the Dessau-Köthen district , Verlag A. Zeller, Dessau 1947.
  5. Georg Müller: Mei Anhalt, where I am. Dialect stories and poems. Compiled and edited by Gunnar Müller-Waldeck . Anhalt Edition, Dessau 2009, ISBN 978-3-936383-15-7 .
  6. Heribert Pistor: De Rickfahrkoarte or: Nochwas uff Aanhalt'sch. Hundreds of dialect poems in Anhalt dialect. Anhalt Edition Dessau, Dessau-Roßlau 2018, ISBN 978-3-936383-29-4 .