from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gau is an ambiguous and ultimately imprecise term for region , landscape or administrative unit .


The origin of the Old High German word geuui (waxed) , gouwi , land 'is uncertain. The word is attested as a neuter in Gothic , Old High German , Old Frisian and Old English . Possible explanations are:

  • Ur- Germanic * gaw-ja- , area, landscape ', related to Armenian gawaṝ , area, hometown, village' and with this to an Indo-European root * g h əu- . For this purpose, Greek chṓra f., Chõros m. Compare 'free space, region, country', which proceeds from the Indo-European full level * g h ō (u) - .
  • Original Germanic * ga-au-ja , totality of villages', compare Old High German inouwa f. ' Dwelling , residence' and the Greek oíē , village '.
  • Original Germanic * ga-agwja- , the [land] located on the water, in Germanic * awjō , water '(compare Au ). This derivation, which was favored for a long time, causes difficulties in terms of both meaning and sound.

The sound variants Gau and Gäu were originally based on whether an / i / or a / j / doubled the / w / followed. The umlauted variant, Old High German geuui, was originally in the nominative , the non-umlauted, Old High German gouwi, originally in the obliquus . However, the two sounds began to mix in Old High German times.

The term Gau for a certain landscape or region, which has since become extinct , was revived by historians from the 17th to 19th centuries. At that time, the male gender (the Gau) prevailed instead of the originally neuter gender (which is still valid in the case of the Gäu ), perhaps based on the Latin pāgus , Gau, district '. When it was included in the terminology of the Third Reich , it fell into disrepute, but lives on in canton names, in landscape names and in place names.

Concept history

County in the Middle Ages

Gau in the Middle Ages

According to the current state of research, a distinction must be made between the "Gau" (pagus) as a designation of a landscape and the "Grafschaft" (comitatus) as an administrative district, of which there were often several within a Gaus and which could exist across Gau borders. There are also no indications for the assumption that the word Gau would have corresponded to an administrative division in Germanic times. This is likely to be a misinterpretation of historical research in the 18th and 19th centuries.

After the overthrow of the indigenous population of the southeast of his empire, Charlemagne established the county principle there , but took over existing regional concepts. The new central ruler installed counts as his local deputies. The royal-imperial central government and central jurisdiction were indirectly in the tradition of the legal foundation of the Imperial ruling authority in the Roman Empire and was based except to the Franks and Lombards, whose king Charlemagne was first on the right of conquest and was Kapitulariengesetzgebung and Institute of the Royal Messenger brought to bear. In Frankish Empire the designated comitatus substantially the office district of a count ( comes , Grafio ) , the so-called Gaugrafen . This was at the same time chief judge and leader of an army ban on behalf of the ruler. Centemarks or hundreds, which were often administered by centographs , were assigned to the Gau . In Zent (earl) dish served them as lay judges . The Gogerichte corresponded to the southern German central dishes in northern Germany .

The Latin name pagus , which became an integral part of the Roman regional administration by late antiquity at the latest , is traditionally rendered as Gau . This equation goes back to the Merovingian- Franconian administrative practice (as an example: 768 pagus Aregaua , today's Canton of Aargau ).

Gaue as districts of the NSDAP

Parteigaue (light brown), Reichsgaue (dark brown) and Generalgouvernement , May 1944

The NSDAP in the German Reich was territorially divided into Gaue from 1925 to 1945, led by a Gauleiter , see structure of the NSDAP . The areas of Austria (→ Ostmarkgesetz ), Sudetenland and western Poland that were incorporated into the German Reich between 1938 and 1939  were administered as Reichsgaue .

Usage of the term today

Place name components

In field names and settlement names , the etymology of the end of a word ... is unclear because it can also be a compound with -au (Aue):

  • Burgau , from Burg-Gau (administrative area of ​​a lord of the castle) or Burg-Aue (Auland belonging to the nearby lord of the castle)
  • Lengau in Upper Austria, possibly originated from ahd. * Bi zuo demo langin / lengin gouu e "in the elongated Gau (place)" or ahd. * Bi zuo dero langin / lengin ouwa "in the elongated Au"

Landscape names

The Badnerlied begins with the words The most beautiful country in Germany's Gau'n .

In the following states -gau, -gäu has been preserved as part of designations for landscapes:

Salzburg : (historically) Salzburggau , bordering: Rott (ach) gau (Bavaria), Mattiggau, Inngau, Attergau (Upper Austria),
Salzburg: Flachgau , Tennengau , Pongau , Pinzgau , Lungau (here also administrative districts).
Vorarlberg : Walgau
Historically: Traungau

Historical crooks:

Regional groups of associations

Gymnastics associations (see Turngau ), groups of the Bündische Jugend and the scout movement , traditional costume associations and rifle associations (for example at gaume championships ) use the term. The ADAC also used the term Gaue for the regional clubs until 2014. In Austria, the Austrian Gymnastics Federation (ÖTB) is partly divided into Turngaue, while the German Gymnastics Federation speaks of Gau . The Swabian Alb Association has been divided into Gaue since 1894.


Although the districts of the federal state of Salzburg are officially named after their administrative seat, they are generally called Gaue according to their old name, e.g. Gebirgsgaue for the Inner Mountains ( Pongau , Pinzgau , Lungau , out of the mountains the Flachgau , Tennengau ). There used to be B. out of the mountains only the Salzburggau, which included areas of the then Salzburg, now Bavarian Rupertiwinkel . These designations are also used as a distinguishing addition in the official place name for names that occur several times, such as St. Johann im Pongau .

Gau for foreign language terms

The word is also used for the following foreign language terms:

  • ancient Egyptian sp3.t (sepat), administrative districts in ancient Egypt, see Gau (Egypt)
  • former administrative units on the Pacific island of Nauru (now an independent republic) before 1968, see Naurus administrative structure
  • Tikina , traditional administrative units in Fiji

For Margaret Carroux , the first Lord of the Rings translated into German, was the "Gau" Although the eheste translation of The Shire ( Engl. "County"), home of the Hobbits , elected under the Nazis because of the use of "Gau" however, they use the translation "Shire".

See also

Wiktionary: Gau  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Web links

Wiktionary: Gau  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. The following according to Kluge. Etymological dictionary of the German language . Edited by Elmar Seebold . 25th, revised and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, p. 335; Etymological dictionary of German. Developed under the direction of Wolfgang Pfeifer . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1989 (and numerous new editions), s. v.
  2. ^ Wilhelm Braune : Old High German Grammar. 15th edition. De Gruyter, Berlin a. a. 2004 (collection of short grammars of Germanic dialects. A: main series), § 201, note 2.
  3. ^ Etymological dictionary of German. Developed under the direction of Wolfgang Pfeifer. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1989 (and numerous new editions), s. v.
  4. ^ Caspar Ehlers : Saxony as Saxon bishops. The church politics of the Carolingian and Ottonian kings in a new light. In: Matthias Becher , Alheydis Plassmann : Controversy at court in the early Middle Ages. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-89971-884-3 , pp. 95–120, here p. 99.
  5. Jürgen Finger: Gau, section Gau, in the historical research of the 18th and 19th centuries , in: Historisches Lexikon Bayerns , 2008.
  6. ^ Elisabeth Bertol-Raffin, Peter Wiesinger: The place names of the political district Braunau am Inn . Vienna 1989. , Volume 1, p. 49; after Ute Maurnböck-Mosser: Altheim. (Diploma thesis) In: The house and farm names in the judicial district of Mauerkirchen. 2002, accessed July 24, 2008 .
  7. Ludwig Edlbacher: The development of the possession of the episcopal church of Passau in Austria above and below the Enns from the 8th to the 11th century. In: Twenty-ninth report on the Francisco-Carolinum Museum. Self-published, Linz 1870, p. 14, online (PDF; 3.3 MB) in the forum
  8. ^ Statutes of the ADAC, viewed on August 26, 2013 ( Memento of the original from March 27, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 130 kB) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. Sprach-GAU - At ADAC the "Gau" becomes a "Region". Accessed December 11, 2019 (German).
  10. On the history of the Swabian Alb Association
  11. Country paper: Fiji . In: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific UN ESCAP (Ed.): Local Government in Asia and the Pacific: A Comparative Study . Brief Description of the Country and its National / State Government Structure –Fijian administration ( web document ( Memento of November 3, 2013 in the Internet Archive )). Country paper: Fiji ( Memento of the original from March 25, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /