History of Thuringia

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This article describes the history of the state of Thuringia . It essentially begins with the Thuringian Empire , which was subjugated in 531 and incorporated into the Franconian Empire . At the time of the Landgraviate of Thuringia in the Middle Ages, contrary to previous views, there was only one regulatory power set up by the king, which however could not prevail. The landscape remained divided into numerous dominions. Since in the course of the 10th century the archbishops of Mainz had already obtained secular rule over the then largest city of Erfurt , the rule of the landgraves over the entire territory was limited. In addition there were other powerful count families such as the lords of Schwarzburg-Kevernburg , the counts of Orlamünde , the bailiffs of Weida and the lords of Lobdeburg as well as many clergymen.

After the death of Heinrich Raspe IV , the Thuringian Landgraviate became extinct, and the eastern part of the area fell to the Wettins as a result of the Thuringian War of Succession . In addition to the Wettiners, most recently in the following centuries in four small states -  Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach , -Coburg-Gotha, -Altenburg and -Meiningen  - divided up, came Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and -Sondershausen and the Reuss principalities added.

By secret treaty between Napoleon and Prussia the Erfurt area of Mainz fell in 1802 to Prussia . In the Congress of Vienna in 1815 this regulation was final and concerned at the same time Eichsfeld, Mulhouse (city and district, Nordhausen, Heiligenstadt with the county Hohenstein, Schleusingen incl. Suhl, Weissensee, Worbis and goats back). This made Prussia the strongest power in the Thuringian region. A Thuringian state only emerged from the eight small states in 1920. Until 1945, however, the Prussian parts of the country did not belong to it.

The state of Thuringia, which was created as a result of the Second World War , was de facto dissolved by a government decision of the GDR and divided into three districts - Erfurt, Gera and Suhl - with some areas also going to the neighboring districts of Halle and Leipzig .

In 1990 the state of Thuringia was newly created. Since then, it has been one of the 16 states in Germany and, along with Bavaria and Saxony, has been called the Free State , but has no political significance.

Early history and antiquity

In the Paleolithic, Thuringia was located on the southernmost foothills of the Ice Age glaciers ( Elster Ice Age ). The oldest finds of human settlement in the country come from Bilzingsleben , Ehringsdorf near Weimar ( Ehringsdorfer Urmensch ) and Ranis ; the Silexspitze of Weimar-Ehringsdorf is up to 230,000 years old.

Around 100 BC Chr. Hermunduren immigrated from the area of ​​the lower Elbe to Thuringia and drove out the Celts or mixed with them. The latter lived south of the Thuringian Forest until the birth of Christ, where they built their only oppidum in Central Germany, the Steinsburg near Römhild . Since the stone castle is probably the oppidum Bikourgion mentioned by Claudios Ptolemäus , Römhild is to be regarded as the oldest place in the area of ​​today's Thuringia.

In the year 3 AD the Marcomann prince Marbod united Hermundures, Turons , Quads , Longobards and Semnones in his empire. In 19 AD, Vibilius , prince of the Hermundurs, drove out the Marcomanni Katwalda , the successor of Marbod, and thus incorporated the northern Bohemian part of the Marcomanni empire . According to Tacitus (98 AD), the Elbe , whose source is actually in northeastern Bohemia, originated in the area of ​​the Hermunduren.

Although the Romans never ruled Thuringia, they still maintained trade relations and undertook a number of expeditions there. Roman coins were often found in the country, and the Roman pottery in Haarhausen near Erfurt was almost identical to the pottery of the Romans.

The thesis that up until a few years ago was the main thesis that fishing and warning broke in from the north to Thuringia in the 3rd century and that together with the Hermundurs and Turons formed the Thuringians, is no longer tenable today. The connection between Hermunduren, mentioned for the last time in the 1st century, and the Thuringians is an invention. In the 4th century the name Thoringi was first mentioned in writing by Flavius ​​Vegetius Renatus , although this source is doubted. What is certain, however, is the existence of Sidonius Apollinaris , a Gaulish author who named the Thoringi around 480 as a former retinue of Attila, king of the Huns, during his war expedition to Gaul.

middle Ages

Empire of the Thuringians

The Thuringian empire existed until it was broken up by the Franks and Saxons in 531. The sources are sparse, only the end can be precisely dated.

Alleged coat of arms of the Thuringian Empire, 1546

As a result of the withdrawal of the Huns in the middle of the 5th century, the Thuringians were able to take over an extensive area under King Bisinus , the first secured ruler of the Thuringians (around 500). The empire presumably extended south beyond the Main and possibly almost as far as the Danube.

After the death of Bisinus his sons Baderich , Herminafried and Berthachar ruled , of whom Berthachar probably died early. Ultimately, only Herminafried remained as an independent king. Herminafried (Ermanfried, Hermenefred) married the Goddess Amalaberga , a niece of the Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great . After Theodoric's death in 526, the Franks took the opportunity and attacked. In 531 the end of the empire had come. In the battle of the Unstrut , the Merovingian Franks defeated the Thuringians under the royal brothers Chlothar I and Theuderich I. Whether the Saxons were allied with the Franks in this dispute is controversial in modern research. The Thuringian royal family came to an end through flight, deportation and murder (Herminafried 534 in Zülpich ). The last member of the royal family, Radegunde , died in exile in Franconia in 587 and was later canonized.

The empire was smashed and divided among the victors. The area north of the Harz probably went to the Saxons, the south to the Franks. The areas east of the Saale could not be held by the Franks and were settled by Slavs . As a tribute, the so-called pig interest was imposed on the southern Thuringians , according to which they had to deliver 500 pigs a year to the Franconian royal court.

The Iringlied tells a story inspired by the events of the fall of the Thuringian Empire and the end of Herminafried.

The Merovingian Duchy of Thuringia

The Thuringian Empire as part of the Franconian Empire during the Merovingian times

Around 630 the Merovingians established a duchy in Thuringia and appointed the Franconian Radulf as a duke . Almost nothing is known about him and his successors Heden I and Heden II . Heden II donated his Arnstadt farm to Bishop Willibrord in 704 - it is the oldest written mention of a place name in the Thuringian region.

It is unclear whether Radulf is a Duke Hruodi who ruled the Würzburg area around the same time . The duchy existed until the late 7th century.

Thuringia in Ottonian and Salian times

Thuringia as part of the Holy Roman Empire at the time of the Salians

In contrast to the other German tribes, the Thuringians did not develop an independent new tribal duchy at the beginning of German history at the beginning of the 10th century. In the Ottonian times, the most influential royal houses in the region were the Margraves of Meissen and the Counts of Weimar . Thietmar von Merseburg wrote that Margrave Ekkehard I was elected duke by the Thuringian people - even if such an election, if it had actually taken place, would hardly have been legally valid. After Ekkehard I was murdered in Pöhlde Monastery in 1002, the Counts of Weimar became the most important family in the country. When King Heinrich II visited Kirchberg near Jena on his coronation tour in July 1002 , Wilhelm II appeared as an advocate for all Thuringians and, after almost 500 years, got the king to abolish pig interest.

Among the Thuringian aristocratic families of the Middle Ages, that of the Ludowingers gained special importance. His first known relatives, like the relatives of the Reginbodonen , had a closer relationship with the Archdiocese of Mainz and were (also) wealthy on the Middle Main . Ludwig the Bearded , allegedly a relative of Gisela, the wife of Emperor Konrad II , was given a fiefdom north of the Thuringian Forest around 1040 and built the now ruined Schauenburg . In the Friedrichroda / Finsterbergen area , he acquired considerable territory that could later be extended to the Harz, also through marriage. His son Ludwig the Springer built the Wartburg in 1067 .

The Ludowingian Landgraviate of Thuringia

Ludwig I , was raised to Landgrave of Thuringia in 1131 by the later Emperor Lothar von Supplinburg . This new land county was 1111/1112 by Emperor Henry V created. The first Landgrave was the Bavarian-Saxon Count Hermann von Formbach, Radelberg and Winzenburg († 1137 or 1138), but was relieved of all his offices in 1130. After the death of Kunigunde von Bilstein in 1140, Ludwig I also inherited the Gisonian Hessengaue. Under the Ludowinger Landgraves, Thuringia was drawn into the Staufer-Welf throne dispute several times . The landgraves, intent on their advantage, changed fronts several times during this time. The main residences of the landgraves in Wartburg , Runneburg , Neuchâtel , the Marburg Landgrave Palace and Creuzburg Castle were lavishly furnished and were centers of German culture in the 12th and 13th centuries. The legendary Singers' War and the work of St. Elisabeth are well known . The marriage of Ludwig IV to Elisabeth, the daughter of the Hungarian King Andreas II , shows that the Ludowingers were among the most powerful imperial princes.

First city foundations

In the 12th century, Thuringia also received its first city charter. According to royal law (ius civitatis), the city rights of Mühlhausen , Nordhausen and Saalfeld were designed and these cities were elevated to imperial cities. At that time, Erfurt, which was subordinate to the Archbishopric of Mainz, was already considered a medieval city with over 10,000 inhabitants. In the 13th century, a group of small towns emerged, mostly near landgraves' castles, such as Waltershausen , which offered trade and handicrafts greater advantages than in rural areas. The Ludowingers were also the first rulers of Thuringia to pursue an active urban policy and use it to secure and expand power. Planned city foundations (according to Eisenach city law) can be identified on a rectangular street grid from the city plans. These include Gebesee and Weißensee , which advanced to a center of power in the eastern part of the Landgraviate, or Thamsbrück (1206) and Langensalza (1268), which were not under the control of the Ludowingers.

Spiritual orders of knights in Thuringia

The Johanniter Castle in Kühndorf

During the time of the crusades, orders of knights had emerged, which were also highly regarded in Thuringia. The Teutonic Order was closely related to the Landgrave House . In the first half of the 13th century he took over important positions east of the Saale and founded branches ( commanderies ) in Altenburg (1214), Zwätze (1221), Porstendorf and Schleiz (1224) and in western Thuringia Nägelstädt (1222) and Mühlhausen (1227) ). Through donations and land purchases, further estates were created around these often fortress-like fortified seats. The Ballei Thuringia was headquartered in Zwätze. The Order of St. John was also represented in Thuringia, its administrative center was in the Weißensee area , the Order of the Templars had gained a foothold in Topfstedt near Greussen, small hospital orders (e.g. the Order of Lazarite on the Wackenhof near Kupfersuhl ) complete the picture.

The Landgraviate under the Wettins in the late Middle Ages

Full coat of arms of the Wettin Landgrave Albrecht II (1265)

The last Ludowinger , Heinrich Raspe , tried to obtain the German royal crown in 1246 and was even elected king on May 22, 1246 with papal support, but died barely a year later. This led to the Thuringian-Hessian War of Succession between the grandson of Hermann I, the Meissen Margrave Heinrich the Illustrious , to whom Heinrich Raspe had assured the contingent mortgage in 1243, and Sophie von Brabant , a daughter of Ludwig IV and Saint Elisabeth, who claimed the inheritance for their underage son Heinrich the child . After the end of the war (1264), Thuringia fell largely to the Wettin Heinrich the Illustrious . The western part of the former Ludowingian dominion, the Hessian counties that were added to the Thuringian Landgraviate through marriage, developed again from 1264 and formed the Landgraviate of Hesse under Heinrich I of Hesse, the son of Sophie of Brabant.

The Thuringian possessions of the Wettins were gradually integrated into the state of Wettin, which also included the Margraviate of Meißen and, from 1423, the Electorate of Saxony (-Wittenberg). However, some Wettin princes left the government of Thuringia to other relatives. In the Thuringian Count War they were able to secure their dominance over the other aristocratic rule in Thuringia. However, with the death of Frederick IV in 1440, Thuringia's existence as an independent state ended.

Development in Northern Thuringia

Royal Palaces and Free Imperial Cities

For the development of German history during the Ottonian, Salian and Staufer times, there were important royal palaces in Helmegau in Thuringia : Wallhausen and Tilleda with the Hohenstaufen imperial castle Kyffhausen immediately above , as well as the imperial castle Nordhausen, around which the city of Nordhausen was formed. Just as important was the lost Palatinate Memleben , which was located in the neighboring Gau Engilin . In 909, King Heinrich I and Mathilde , who was later canonized , married in the Wallhausen Palatinate, and her son, who later became Emperor Otto I the Great , was probably born here in 912 . Wallhausen, Tilldeda, Nordhausen and Memleben were frequent places of residence. of Ottonian and Salian kings and emperors, in the case of Wallhausen, Tilleda and Nordhausen also the Staufer emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa where certificates were issued and court days were held. Nordhausen was raised to a Free Imperial City on July 27, 1220 by the Staufer Emperor Friedrich II . Also Mulhouse has to be mentioned that with its imperial castle and surrounding town (town charter since 1135) in 1251 the title of free city gained, and in 1256 the Rhenish Cities and Towns joined. Here, in 1188, Philip of Swabia was elected as a king . The cities of Erfurt, Nordhausen and Mühlhausen united from 1304/06 to 1481 in the Thuringian three-city federation , and in 1430 all three became members of the Hanseatic League .

Beichlingen county

The county of Beichlingen originally extended in the northeastern part of the Thuringian Basin around their main residence at Beichlingen Castle . There is evidence that the Counts of Rothenburg resided on the Rothenburg in the Kyffhäuser Mountains from 1103-1209 (first documented mention in 1103), which fell to the county of Beichlingen in 1209 . Until 1348 these ruled over large areas in the Goldenen Aue ( Helmegau ), around the Kyffhäuser Mountains and in the Hainleite . With increasing financial difficulties in this region, they sold the village of Heringen to the County of Hohnstein before 1300 , then the village of Frankenhausen to the County of Schwarzburg in 1340 and the Counts of Hohnstein again in 1348 Kelbra . They also sold the county of Lohra , which had only just been preserved in 1227 , first in 1289 the western part to the Wettin Landgraviate of Thuringia, in 1320 the central and eastern part to Hohnstein. In 1448 most of the remaining property in the Thuringian basin around Cölleda was pledged to the Schwarzburger and Stolbergers. In 1468 Schwarzburg sold his stake in Stolberg, which now owned large estates in the Thuringian Basin around Frohndorf and Großneuhausen . But almost the entire property in the Thuringian Basin fell to the House of von Werthern a few years later : via the Reich Chamberlain Guardian Hans von Werthern , who first received Gut Allerstedt in 1487 and the rule of Brücken in 1498 . In 1518 it was even able to obtain city ​​rights for bridges (helmets) through Emperor Maximilian I , but this right could no longer be held in the following centuries and lapsed again. In 1505 the hereditary chamber door keeper acquired all Stolberg - formerly Beichling - possessions in the Thuringian Basin , such as the Frohndorf estate, with Orlishausen , Ellersleben , Dermsdorf , Großneuhausen, Bachra , Battgendorf and Backleben . In 1519 he was awarded the ownership of the house Restichen Beichlingen: the village Beichlingen with the corresponding ancestral home of the family. The county was finally dissolved and finally integrated into the Electorate of Saxony .

County of Lohra

The county of Lohra existed in the 12th and 13th centuries around the castle Lohra , and controlled the upper Wippertal between Worbis to Kleinfurra , the heights of the western Hainleite and the area around Großbodungen and Bleicherode . It ended in 1227 with the death of Ludwig IV von Lohra. The county then fell to the county of Beichlingen , which in 1289 sold the western part around Worbis to the Wettin Landgraviate of Thuringia. The rest was then also sold in 1320, this time to the County of Hohnstein .

Counties of Hohnstein, Klettenberg and Stolberg

Coming from the southern Harz, the county of Hohnstein developed into a power factor in northern Thuringia, both in the Helmegau and in the upper and middle catchment area of ​​the Wipper : The first documentary mention of Hohnstein Castle was in 1130, the extinction in the male line took place in 1593 County of Stolberg, located in the southern Harz (until 1815), was probably a branch line of the Hohnsteiner, which existed as an eastern neighbor until 1815 and also owned areas in the southern Harz and the Goldene Aue. In 1253, the county of Klettenberg, located in western Helmegau, was occupied and incorporated by the county of Hohnstein. From the former counties of Klettenberg and Lohra, the branch line Hohnstein-Lohra-Klettenberg emerged in 1373 . The Hohnsteiners also acquired the bailiwick over the Walkenried monastery around this time .

Since 1263 Hohnsteiner resided on the Spatenburg above the city of Sondershausen, and ruled over it from around 1300. The branch line Hohnstein - Sondershausen was formed , which was inherited in 1356 by the Grafschaft Schwarzburg . During this time (before 1341) the Honsteiner Sondershausen gave town rights.

Also Heringen / Helme got 1,327 of the scorn Steinern the municipal law ,. also in 1351 Kelbra (Kyffhäuser) , which the town bought in 1348 from the Beichlingers. Count Dietrich IV then had Heringen Castle built between 1318 and 1327

The branch line Hohnstein-Kelbra-Heringen was formed here in 1373 , which later split up into the branch lines Hohnstein-Kelbra and Hohnstein-Heringen . Both offices fell to the House of Wettin in 1413, half of which was passed on to the Schwarzburger and Stolbergers as fiefdoms, and this remained until 1815.

In 1268 Sömmerda was attached to Hohnstein, which also came to the Schwarzburgers in 1342;

After 1593, the county was dissolved and divided into various border states, including the north-western part with the area around Walkenried including its monastery , the villages of Zorge and Wieda to the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg . The rest was divided between the Schwarzburgers and the Stolbergers, but changed rulers frequently and was temporarily occupied by Sweden during the 30 Years War. Until it stabilized after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, when most of it was assigned to the Electorate of Brandenburg . However, this could only enforce his claim from 1699, since in the meantime the County of Sayn-Wittgenstein already ruled the country. During the Napoleonic period it became part of the Kingdom of Westphalia , only to become part of the Prussian province of Saxony at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 with almost the entire rest of northern Thuringia . In 1803, however, the area between Rothesütte in the northwest, Bösenrode in the southeast and Leimbach in the south, came to the Kingdom of Hanover as the Hohnstein office , from which the Ilfeld district of the Prussian province of Hanover emerged in 1866 . This district was dissolved again in 1932 and integrated into the surrounding Prussian province of Saxony.

Grafschaft Schwarzburg in the north of Thuringia

In 1340 the previous Beichlinger Amt Frankenhausen came to the Grafschaft Schwarzburg , first to the branch line Schwarzburg-Blankenburg until 1574, then Schwarzburg-Frankenhausen, and from 1599 it became part of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt , which it remained until 1918. Between 1413 and 1815 these Franconian branches were enfeoffed by the Schwarzburger together with the county of Stolberg with the offices of Heringen and Kelbra . Both offices together with the entire county of Stolberg fell to Prussia at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The county of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt received financial compensation from the loss, but was able to remain in the Frankenhausen office until 1918.

The city of Sondershausen and its surroundings also came to the Grafschaft Schwarzburg in 1356, which fell to the Schwarzburg-Sondershausen branch in 1599 and was also preserved there until 1918. From the Congress of Vienna in 1815, both Schwarzburg offices in the northern Thuringian area formed an exclave in the middle of the Prussian occupation zone, formed the border between the new Prussian administrative districts of Erfurt and Merseburg , were de facto dependent on Prussia.

Archbishopric Mainz

Main article: Kurmainz , History of the Diocese of Mainz

There has been evidence of a bishop in Mainz since the year 346 and an archbishop since 780/81. With Emperor Otto I (912–973), the bishops were strengthened through material goods, royal privileges and the highest imperial offices. and thus not only as a shepherd spiritual power, but also as the imperial prince worldly power, but also demanded absolute obedience. So they were on an equal footing with secular imperial princes. In 983, at the Reichstag in Verona, the Archbishop of Mainz Willigis was presented by Emperor Otto II with large areas in the Rheingau around Mainz ( Veronese donation ). Because a bishop had no heirs, the assets remained in the diocese. This was the first step towards the territorial principality of the archdiocese. Mainz, which expanded in the following years, including large areas around Aschaffenburg and Miltenberg, in the Odenwald and so also in Eichsfeld and the middle of Thuringia.

In the Thuringian region, the ore monastery of Mainz had owned territories in Eichsfeld (verifiable since 1022), around Erfurt ( Erfurt state ), as well as around Gleichen Castle and Kranichfeld , so it has a strong historical significance for the development of these regions. All these areas were then lost again at the latest with the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1802/03, with Prussia in particular benefiting in the Thuringian region. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, these annexations were finally granted to Prussia.


Main article: Eichsfeld

The " Eichesfeld " was once a Thuringian district in the upper catchment area of ​​the Leine and the upper catchment area of ​​the Unstrut north of Mühlhausen . The first possessions of the Mainz bishop around Heiligenstadt and the Rusteberg have been documented since 1022 . These gradually enlarged, monasteries emerged and an administrative structure was established. In 1294, most of the current Eichsfeld was in Mainz hands. The Unterreichsfeld northwest of Duderstadt came later as pledge from the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg , branch line Grubenhagen to Mainz, from 1434 . As a result of the Reformation and the Peasants' War , the residents of Eichsfeld first became Protestant in the 16th century. But since 1575, with the help of the Jesuits, the Counter-Reformation was enforced in the entire Mainz area . With success: within 50 years almost the entire population of Eichsfeld returned to the Catholic faith. In 1802 with the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss the entire Mainz property of Eichsfeld came to Prussia; in 1807-1813 to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia . At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Eichsfeld was divided: the entire Upper Field and the southern part of the Lower Field came back to Prussia ( Province of Saxony ), but the central and northern part of the Lower Field to the Kingdom of Hanover . This border from 1815 still exists today and forms the Lower Saxony - Thuringian state border.

Development of the Franconian and Hessian part of Thuringia

Dominions in the Franconian part of Thuringia (Duchy of Meranien (until 1248), County of Henneberg (until 1583), Bishopric Würzburg (1008–1542))

The entire area south of the Thuringian Forest and Salzbogen belonged to the Franconian Empire until 1806

County of Henneberg

Main article: Grafschaft Henneberg

Most of the Franconian part of Thuringia was formed by the county of Henneberg (first documented mention 1096): Schmalkalden , Kaltennordheim , Hildburghausen , Heldburger Land , Römhild , Königshofen , Münnerstadt and Königsberg were among them

The area around Sonneberg and Coburg belonged to the Duchy of Merania until 1248 , after which it fell to the County of Henneberg . They lost the so-called Care Coburg as early as 1353 through an inheritance to the House of Wettin to Friedrich III. the severity, Margrave of Meissen .

Würzburg Monastery

Main article: Hochstift Würzburg

Meiningen was part of the Würzburg bishopric from 1008–1542, which was then also swapped to the county of Henneberg.

In 1583 the Henneberg family went out in the male line. And the land was divided up, the southern one to the Hochstift Würzburg and the northern one to the House of Wettin , the first step towards the division of northern Franconia between the later states of Bavaria and Thuringia.

Fulda Monastery

The Ulstertal around Geisa , which currently belongs to Thuringia , belonged to the Fulda bishopric from 817 to 1803 , which was dissolved with the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss and attached to the short-lived Principality of Orange-Nassau-Fulda . It was annexed by Napoleon in 1806 and annexed to the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt in 1810 . From 1813 to 1815 the province of Fulda was administered by Austria. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 but it was decided the province of Fulda dissolve and divide: most of went through Prussia to the Electorate of Hesse , the South with offices Hammelburg , Brückenau and Weyhers to the Kingdom of Bavaria , the East with offices Geisa and Dermbach was assigned to the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach.

Thuringian states among the Wettins

Wettin divisions

In 1446 it came to the Saxon fratricidal war after the plan of the division of Altenburg of the quarreling brothers Friedrich II. And Wilhelm III. Was rejected. The dispute was only settled with the Naumburg Peace of 1451. The aftermath of the Saxon fratricidal war was the Altenburg prince robbery in July 1455, when the knight Kunz von Kaufungen kidnapped the princes Ernst and Albrecht from the castle in Altenburg . In 1485 Leipzig was partitioned , in which the Wettin lands were divided between the Albertines and the Ernestines . The main part of Thuringia fell to the Ernestines. Their territory was later split up into a number of dwarf states. The north of Thuringia remained with the Albertines and thus with the later Electorate of Saxony . Within the Holy Roman Empire, a large part of Thuringia and the other Wettin areas belonged to the Upper Saxon Empire . The south-west was part of the Franconian Empire , while Erfurt and Eichsfeld, as Kurmainzische areas, belonged to the Kurrheinische Reichskreis .

Reformation time

Thuringia played an important role during the Reformation . Martin Luther hid in the Wartburg from 1521 to 1522 , where he translated the New Testament into German . In 1525, Thuringia was a center of the German Peasants' War along with southwest Germany . In Bad Frankenhausen occurred on May 15, 1525 one of the most significant battles; a few days later Thomas Müntzer was captured and executed in Mühlhausen . In 1531, the joined Protestant imperial estates in Schmalkalden for Schmalkaldic League against Emperor Charles V together. The ostracism of the leading representatives of this league in 1546 led to the Schmalkaldic War of 1546/47. Elector Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous , an Ernestine who also belonged to Thuringia, was on the side of the Protestants. His also Protestant cousin, Duke Moritz , an Albertine, supported the emperor. With the Wittenberg surrender in 1547, Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous lost parts of his property and also the electoral dignity to Duke Moritz. The Ernestines only kept their Thuringian possessions, which were composed as follows: the offices, cities and castles Gerstungen , Eisenach , Wartburg, Creuzburg , Tenneberg , Waltershausen , Leuchtenburg , Roda , Orlamünde , Gotha , Jena , Kapellendorf , Roßla , Weimar, Wachsenburg , Dornburg , Camburg , Buttstädt , Arnshaugk , Weida and Ziegenrück .

After the death of Duke Johann Ernst von Coburg (1553), the Franconian offices of Coburg , Sonneberg , Hildburghausen , Königsberg , Veilsdorf and Schalkau were added . Through the Naumburg Treaty (February 24, 1554) Altenburg , Eisenberg , Sachsenburg and Herbsleben , which Elector August ceded, and in 1555 through an exchange with the Counts of Mansfeld, the Frankish rule of Römhild. Finally, the Ernestine House acquired the Frankish offices of Meiningen , Themar , Maßfeld , Behrungen , Henneberg , Milz , Kaltennordheim , Frauenbreitungen , Sand and Wasungen and the Thuringian Ilmenau from the Henneberg inheritance (1583), but definitely not until 1660 . After the death of Johann Friedrich the Magnanimous in 1554, the division of the Ernestine Lands began, and Thuringia began to be divided into numerous small individual states.

The Thuringian states between the beginning of the modern era and 1920

Country Existence time origin Whereabouts
Saxe-Weimar 1572-1741 Ernestine State Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach 1572-1596
Ernestine State Divided into
Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach
Saxe-Coburg 1596-1633 Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach Saxe-Gotha
Saxony-Eisenach 1596-1741 Saxe-Coburg-Eisenach Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
Saxony-Altenburg 1603-1672 Saxe-Weimar to Saxe-Gotha
Saxe-Gotha 1640-1680 Saxe-Weimar Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Saxony-Jena 1672-1690 Saxe-Weimar Saxe-Weimar
Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg 1680-1826 Saxe-Gotha + Saxe-Altenburg Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as well as Saxe-Altenburg
Saxony-Meiningen 1680-1920 Saxe-Gotha State of Thuringia
Saxony-Hildburghausen 1680-1826 Saxe-Gotha Saxony-Meiningen
Saxe-Coburg 1680-1735 Saxe-Gotha Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Saxony-Eisenberg 1680-1707 Saxe-Gotha Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg
Saxony-Römhild 1680-1710 Saxe-Gotha Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, Saxe-Meiningen,
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Saxe-Hildburghsn.
Saxony-Saalfeld 1680-1735 Saxe-Gotha Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld
Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld 1735-1826 Saxony-Coburg + Saxony-Saalfeld Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen
Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach 1741-1920 Saxony-Weimar + Saxony Eisenach State of Thuringia
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 1826-1920 Saxe-Coburg + Saxe-Gotha Free State of Bavaria, State of Thuringia
Saxony-Altenburg 1826-1920 Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg State of Thuringia
Reuss undergrowth 1564-1583 Split into
Reuss-Untergreiz I and Reuss-Untergreiz II
Reuss overburden 1564-1768 Formation of Reuss older line
together with Reuss lower leg
Reuss-Gera 1564-1848 Association with Reuss-Schleiz
to form Reuss younger line
Reuss lower leg I. 1583-1596 Reuss undergrowth Association to Reuss-Untergreiz-Burgk
Reuss undergrowth II 1583-1616 Reuss undergrowth Association with parts of
Reuss-Untergreiz-Burgk to Reuss-Untergreiz
Reuss-Untergreiz-Burgk 1596-1616 Reuss lower leg I. Split into Reuss-Burgk
and Reuss-Untergreiz
Reuss-Burgk 1616-1697 Reuss-Untergreiz-Burgk Reuss undergrowth
Reuss-Dölau 1616-1698 Reuss overburden
Reuss undergrowth 1616-1768 Reuss-Untergreiz II +
parts of Reuss-Untergreiz-Burgk
Formation of Reuss older line
with Reuss upper stimulus
Reuss-Schleiz 1647-1848 Formation of Reuss younger line
with Reuss-Gera
Reuss-Saalburg 1647-1666
Reuss-Lobenstein 1647-1824 Reuss-Schleiz
Reuss-Rothenthal 1668-1698
Reuss-Hirschberg 1678-1711 Reuss-Lobenstein
Reuss-Ebersdorf 1678-1848 Reuss-Lobenstein Reuss-Schleiz
Reuss older line (Reuss-Greiz) 1768-1918 Upper Reuss irritation + Lower Reuss irritation People's state of Reuss
Reuss younger line (Reuss-Gera) 1848-1918 Reuss-Gera + Reuss-Schleiz People's state of Reuss
People's State of Reuss 1918-1920 Reuss older line +
Reuss younger line
State of Thuringia
Schwarzburg-Sondershausen 1571-1920 Schwarzburg county State of Thuringia
Schwarzburg-Frankenhausen 1571-1599 Schwarzburg county Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
Schwarzburg suzerainty 1571-1574 Schwarzburg county Division into Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
and Schwarzburg-Arnstadt
Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt 1574-1920 Schwarzburg suzerainty State of Thuringia
Schwarzburg-Arnstadt 1574-1716 Schwarzburg suzerainty Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
Schwarzburg-Ebeleben 1651-1681 Schwarzburg-Sondershausen Schwarzburg-Sondershausen

Witch trials in Thuringia

The Albertine line of the Wettins in Northern Thuringia

The Ernestine duchies were mostly in the center and south of Thuringia, while the Albertine line was concentrated in Saxony, but had a long strip in the north of Thuringia, with the cities of Langensalza , Weissensee , Eckardsberga and Sangerhausen . There were also after Fleglerkrieg of and the subsequent weakening County Hohnstein in 1413, the formerly Hohnsteinischen secondary lines Hohnstein - herring and Hohnstein - Kelbra to the Albertine line of the Wettin which it to half as a fief to the local neighboring counties Stolberg and county Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt passed on .

The Albertine line was able to assert itself and initially remained on the Catholic side after the Reformation during the Schmalkaldic War in 1547, it was raised by the emperor to the electorate of Saxony . From 1656–1746 there were also the secondary school principalities of Saxony-Weissenfels , Saxony-Merseburg and Saxony-Zeitz within the Electorate of Saxony on the Albertine lines . The north of Thuringia with the offices of Freyburg , Amt Eckartsberga , Sachsenburg , Sangerhausen , Weißensee and Langensalza were in the Thuringian district of the Secondary Principality of Saxony-Weissenfels.

In 1806 Napoleon elevated the Electorate of Saxony to the Kingdom of Saxony . At the Vienna Congress of 1815, as punishment for the collaboration with Napoleon, all northern Thuringia areas of this Kingdom of Prussia were awarded, occupied by this, and integrated into the Prussian province of Saxony and divided between the newly formed administrative districts of Merseburg and Erfurt .

The ancien regime

Thuringia in the middle of the 17th century ( Thuringia Landgraviatus )

The collapsed Ernestine duchies were at times split up into up to ten individual states, of which Saxe-Gotha (with Ernst the Pious ) dominated in the 17th century and Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in the 18th century .

Around 1800 Weimar became a center of German culture through Duchess Anna Amalia and Duke Karl August , where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller worked . At about the same time, neighboring Jena developed into the nucleus of German Romanticism with Ludwig Tieck , the brothers August Wilhelm Schlegel and Friedrich Schlegel and many others .

Napoleonic period

In 1803, the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss abolished the ecclesiastical principalities and almost all imperial cities in Germany in order to compensate the secular rulers concerned for the territories on the left (west) of the Rhine that had been lost to France. This affected the Free Imperial Cities Mühlhausen and Nordhausen , as well as all territories of the Archbishopric Mainz and Hochstift Fulda .

In Thuringia, the main focus was on the Electoral Mainz areas of Erfurt and Eichsfeld, as well as the free imperial cities mentioned. On the other hand, the small principalities of the Ernestines, the Reussians and the Schwarzburger were preserved. Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach was made a Grand Duchy by Napoleon I and was given the Geisa office of Fulda until then .

In 1806 Napoleon triumphed over the Kingdom of Prussia in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt . On December 15, 1806, the Ernestine duchies joined the Confederation of the Rhine , followed by the Russian and Schwarzburg states on April 18, 1807. In September and October 1808, the Erfurt Prince's Congress (also known as the Erfurt Prince's Congress ) took place.

With the creation of the Napoleon- dependent Rhine Confederation in 1806 and the establishment of the Kingdom of Westphalia in 1807, the entire region came under Napoleonic rule. The Kingdom of Westphalia (Department of the Harz) included, among other things, the entire Eichsfeld and also the areas around Nordhausen, which came to the Electorate of Brandenburg in 1699, including the former free imperial cities of Nordhausen and Mühlhausen.

In thanks to Napoleon, the Electorate of Saxony (Albertinische Linie) was elevated to the Kingdom of Saxony in 1806 , which was greatly reduced in size by Prussia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815, but still existed until 1918.

Thuringian area after the Congress of Vienna

Northern Thuringia: Prussian conquest at the Congress of Vienna in 1815

At the Congress of Vienna the victorious powers were able to enrich themselves abundantly at the expense of former small states allied with Napoleon, as well as enrich themselves with the abandoned spiritual principalities, free imperial cities and areas annexed by France. Prussia not only reacquired the territories lost by Napoleon, but also annexed large areas in the Rhineland, Thuringia and Saxony. In the Thuringian area, all areas of the Albertine Kingdom of Saxony, allied with Napoleon, were acquired, as well as the city ​​of Erfurt, which once belonged to the ore monastery of Mainz , the Eichsfeld and the free imperial cities of Mühlhausen and Nordhausen. In addition, the indebted little county of Stolberg with all its branch lines. The Prussian province of Saxony was founded. As small states dependent on Prussia, only the principalities of Anhalt , Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt - Unterherrschaft Frankenhausen could maintain themselves as exclaves of this province , and at the same time formed the borders of the newly created administrative districts: Anhalt between the administrative districts of Magdeburg and Merseburg , the northern Thuringian Schwarzburg between the Rbz. Merseburg and Erfurt . This situation persisted until after the Second World War the Soviet military administration exercised power and the Erfurt administrative region was annexed to the state of Thuringia, but not the Thuringian part of the Merseburg administrative region. From the rest of the Prussian province of Saxony, including the previously independent state of Anhalt , the Soviets decided in 1945 to establish a new federal state of Saxony-Anhalt for the first time . If it weren't for the Soviets, Erfurt, the Eichsfeld and large areas of the Thuringian Basin would also have become part of Saxony-Anhalt today.

Member of the German Confederation

At the end of the Napoleonic era, Thuringia became the country of origin of the fraternities - in 1815 the first such student union was founded in Jena. In 1817 one of the most important actions of the fraternities in Thuringia took place - the Wartburg Festival .

After the Congress of Vienna there were still twelve independent states in Thuringia, which were reduced to eight by the end of the 19th century. All other areas of Thuringia fell to Prussia and were combined in the administrative district of Erfurt of the province of Saxony . Only the area around Schmalkalden belonged to Hessen-Kassel , with which it also became Prussian in 1866.

Today's Thuringia between 1826 and 1918

After the Saxon-Gotha-Altenburg line died out , the Ernestine duchies were redistributed in 1826 . The Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen received all of Saxe-Hildburghausen , whose duke was awarded Saxe-Altenburg as a replacement , and the Saalfeld part of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld , which was therefore united with Saxe-Gotha in personal union to form the double duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha .

The Saxon duchies as well as the Russian and Schwarzburg principalities were collectively referred to as the Thuringian states within the German Confederation . Since 1849 these have been the following countries:

  1. Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach and from 1903 Grand Duchy of Saxony
  2. Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen
  3. Duchy of Saxony-Altenburg
  4. Duchies of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
  5. Principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt
  6. Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen
  7. Principality of Reuss younger line
  8. Principality of Reuss older line

In 1833, with effect from January 1, 1834, the states merged to form the Customs and Trade Association of the Thuringian States . This represented the interests of the states in the German Customs Union and had a common customs administration based in Erfurt.

The March Revolution (1848–1849)

Thuringia was badly affected by the revolution. In addition to a fundamental politicization in the population, an amalgamation of the Thuringian states also came under discussion. In Thuringia, too, the causes were diverse: in addition to population growth, these were the crises in agriculture, the home industry and in trade. In the spring of 1847 there were hunger riots in Kahla , Apolda and Jena . The hunting privilege of the nobility, as a result of which deer and wild boars destroyed the harvest, was also significant for the prehistory of the unrest.

The March demands were different in many places. In addition to the usual demands for freedom of the press and assembly, independent courts and the arming of the people, there were also demands in Gera , for example, for the abolition of the beer tax and regulation of the White Elster . Since the princes, in contrast to the large states of the German Confederation, were much closer to the people, most of the demands were redeemed very quickly. The most important achievements included electoral reforms that came close to universal and equal suffrage . There were abdications only in Sachsen-Altenburg , here Duke Joseph's March demands had not been implemented, and in Reuss-Lobenstein-Ebersdorf . The latter was united with Reuss-Schleiz to Reuss younger line , which reduced the number of Thuringian states to eight.

Despite the fulfillment of most of the March demands, the situation deteriorated noticeably in the summer of 1848. Mediatization intentions were also the reason why the execution of the Reich was carried out in autumn . On October 2nd, Saxon troops moved into Altenburg to ensure peace and order. Were also occupied Jena , Weimar, Hildburghausen , Römhild and Saalfeld . On November 24th, 27 people died in a clash between the military and the people in Erfurt.

On March 28, 1849, a draft for a new imperial constitution was presented. 28 states of the German Confederation ratified the bill, including all Thuringian states. On May 8th, Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach recognized the constitution as legally valid. However, Prussia rejected the draft because King Friedrich Wilhelm did not want the people to offer the crown. As a result, there was a split between the members of the German Confederation; The Thuringian territorial states also had to rethink. In the Frankfurt parliament , however, many Thuringian MPs tended to the left. In Rump were Christian Gottlieb students (Jena), Friedrich Carl Hönniger (Rudolstadt) and Julius Froebel (Reuss Younger Line), nephew of Friedrich Froebel represent. Despite great sympathy among the population, they were subjected to state reprisals after their return to Thuringia. For example, investigative proceedings were initiated against Hönniger and in August 1850 he was sentenced to one year in prison for high treason.

During the May uprising in Dresden , not only the people, but also the press showed solidarity with the Saxons (“God protect the Sachsenland”). Many volunteers registered and marched to Altenburg , Werdau and Crimmitschau , where special trains to Dresden started. A special train also started in Apolda on May 7th. The fear that it would be too late finally came true; the uprising was suppressed and many Thuringian volunteers returned disappointed.

The railway construction

The fragmentation of the country into numerous territories made the planning of railway lines extremely difficult, although most of the small states tried to connect to the emerging German rail network. So it came about that around 1890 15 different companies operated railways in the largest single state in Thuringia, the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach.

However, the Kingdom of Prussia , whose province of Saxony also included parts of Thuringia, tried to influence the development. His goal was to create the shortest possible connections from his home countries to the Rhineland and Westphalia, and after 1866 also to the new province of Hesse-Nassau. In 1844, Prussia, along with Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, played a key role in founding the Thuringian Railway Company , which, however, was dominated by private investors with 75 percent of the capital.

Its first railway line reached the royal seat of Weimar from Halle via Weißenfels on December 19, 1846, and finally Eisenach via Erfurt and Gotha on June 24, 1847 in the following year. From here, in 1849, the gap to the Hessian Kurfürst-Friedrich-Wilhelms-Nordbahn in Gerstungen was closed, so that a few years later, via Kassel, Frankfurt am Main could also be reached by rail, which ran 125 kilometers in Thuringia.

The route of a second large railway company, the Werra Railway Company, began in Eisenach . The new company, which left the management of the Thuringian Railway Company, opened up the southern Thuringian states on November 2, 1858 with its 150-kilometer line Eisenach-Meiningen-Hildburghausen-Coburg-Lichtenfels , the Werrabahn, and its branch line Coburg-Sonneberg had made a significant contribution to the financing. The opening of the last section from Coburg to Lichtenfels to the Bavarian railway network took place in 1859 by the Bavarian State Railway . In the same year the Thuringian Railway Company from Weißenfels reached the capital Gera of the Principality Reuss younger line via Zeitz.

In the sixties of the 19th century, railway construction began in northern Thuringia, which was then Prussian. The Magdeburg-Leipziger Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft opened the line from Halle via Eisleben-Sangerhausen through the Goldene Aue on the southern edge of the Harz Mountains to Nordhausen on July 10, 1866. From here it went in 1867 on the one hand via Leinefelde-Heiligenstadt through the Eichsfeld to Arenshausen and in 1869 on the other hand to Nüxei near Bad Sachsa. At both endpoints there were connections to the now Prussian routes in Kurhessen and Hanover.

The Thuringian Railway Company mentioned above only opened the line from Erfurt to Arnstadt in those years in 1867, which at that time belonged to the Principality of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. The Gotha-Mühlhausen-Leinefelde cross-connection followed in 1870 and the route from Gera via Triptis to Saalfeld in 1871.

The Nordhausen-Erfurter Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (NEEG) opened another north-south connection with its main line via Sondershausen-Straussfurt in 1869. She also took over the management of the Straußfurt-Sömmerda-Großheringen line opened in 1874 by the Saal-Unstrut Railway Company , which was completely transferred to NEEG in 1882.

Another important addition to the Thuringian railway network took place in 1874 and 1876. In 1874 the Saal-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft opened its line from Großheringen near Naumburg via Jena to Saalfeld . The Weimar – Gera railway was opened in 1876 and completed the railway connection to Jena. It was built by the Weimar-Geraer Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft between these two cities. Thus, the largest city in the country, Erfurt, was connected to the second largest, Gera.

Because of the great importance of the railway lines of the Thuringian Railway Company, the state of Prussia endeavored to acquire it in full, took over management and administration on January 1, 1882 and became the owner on July 1, 1886.

Under Prussian leadership, the Thuringian Forest was first crossed by a railway line in 1884. It began in Plaue and led via Suhl to the Werra Railway in Grimmenthal near Meiningen. With the Brandleitetunnel (3039 m long) it contains the longest railway tunnel in Thuringia. The opening of this line completed the Berlin-Stuttgart rail link.

The second crossing of the Thuringian Forest massif took place in 1885, when the Frankenwaldbahn was opened from Saalfeld via Rennsteig and Kronach to Lichtenfels in Bavaria. Since then it has been the most important connection from Berlin to Munich.

While the main line network was completed by around 1885, many secondary lines were built in Thuringia up to the beginning of the First World War. After 1914, railway line construction in the country slowly ebbed.

decade Newly opened routes
in Thuringia
1840s 166 km
1850s 182 km
1860s 227 km
1870s 526 km
1880s 453 km
1890s 396 km
1900s 285 km
1910s 199 km
1920s 40 km
1930s 15 km

The Thuringian states in the German Empire

High industrialization

The period of high industrialization in Thuringia also fell during the imperial era . The state was industrialized to a similar extent as Saxony in the east or Westphalia in the west. The main industrial centers were East Thuringia with a pronounced textile industry (in Gera, Zeulenroda, Pößneck, Greiz, Apolda) and the cities of Jena (optical industry) and Eisenach (vehicle construction), which are still the centers of Thuringian industry. With the construction of the railway in more rural areas, the wave of industrialization was also carried there, allowing smaller cities such as Ilmenau to develop. The glass industry settled there to a large extent and its labor requirements increased the population from around 3,400 in the year the empire was founded to 12,500 at the start of the First World War, which also happened in a similar way in numerous other Thuringian rural towns. The glass industry was the main branch of the Thuringian Forest, which was also relatively heavily industrialized, in contrast to Harz or Rhön, which remained dominated by agriculture. Northern Thuringia and the areas south of the Rennsteig with the exception of Sonneberg did not develop as strongly as the middle and east of the country. They mostly kept their agricultural structure.

Schott and Carl Zeiss in Jena, which achieved international renown, were among the largest companies of the imperial era . The Sonneberg toy industry and the arms industry from Suhl were also well known. The Eisenach automobile plant , with around 1,500 employees, was also one of the major companies at the beginning of the 20th century.

A strong labor movement developed in Thuringia during this time and the country became the “cradle of social democracy”. The Social Democratic Workers' Party , one of the two predecessor organizations of the SPD , was founded in Eisenach in 1869 . The SPD was founded in Gotha in 1875 , where the SDAP merged with the General German Workers' Association. The Gotha Program laid down the first principles of the SPD policy below. It was replaced by the Erfurt program in 1891 .

Post and Railways

In the founding period after the war of 1870/71, the French war payments resulted in additional railway lines in Thuringia, which were mostly only 10 to 30 kilometers long. Of greater importance are only the Saal-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft in 1874 with the Großheringen-Jena-Saalfeld route and in 1876 the Weimar-Geraer Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft , which also touched Jena.

Due to temporary economic failure and under Prussian pressure, Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach and Gotha sold their shares in the Thuringian Railway to Prussia in 1881, which established the Royal Railway Directorate in Erfurt in 1882 . When the Werra Railway , the Saal Railway and the Weimar-Gera Railway were finally sold to Prussia in 1895 , the Thuringian railway network had almost completely come to Prussia, which was able to considerably increase its influence on the Thuringian states . In the east of Thuringia, some sections of the route from private railways came to the Saxon State Railways.

Until 1867, the Thuringian states belonged to the Thurn and Taxis postal area , only Sachsen-Altenburg was part of the Saxon postal service. In 1867 the postal administration was then standardized. On January 1st, both postal areas were in Prussia and on July 1st in the North German Confederation and in 1871 in the Reichspost . The Oberpostdirektion Erfurt, founded in 1815, was responsible for the Thuringian states and the Prussian territories, and the Oberpostdirektion Dresden for Sachsen-Altenburg .

First World War and November Revolution

Small states were only abolished in Thuringia as a result of the November Revolution. In some areas it created the smallest fragmentation of the area until 1920 (example: Ilm district with possessions of six states)

In the First World War , 44,000 Thuringians died at the front. In the homeland, the time was marked by the war economy and bad harvests, which resulted in famine and scarcity. Agricultural yields in particular fell in the course of the war. In the summer of 1918, the Spanish flu claimed 4,500 lives in Thuringia alone. Industrial production concentrated on war goods such as uniforms, weapons and binoculars ( Zeiss ). Food management began in 1915 . This led to the establishment of a coercive cooperative, a cattle trade association, a state potato plant, a state feed office (supply for cattle) and a state distribution center for butter and eggs. In December 1916 a nutrition committee was founded, and in 1917 a regional nutrition office in Weimar.

The workers' protests against the war fell silent after 1914, especially due to the truce between the SPD and the Reich government on August 4, 1914. From 1916 onwards there were more strikes again in Gotha, Gera, Altenburg, Jena and Weimar. The war opponents of the SPD found themselves in the USPD in 1917 . After years of relative calm, discussions about a unified Thuringia began again. The Social Democrats in particular criticized the political situation and the outdated voting rights. In January 1918 ammunition workers' strikes took place (including in Jena with 7,000 demonstrators). There were increasing demands for freedom of expression and assembly.

In June 1918 a meeting of the presidents of the state parliament took place, from the late summer of 1918 further discussions about the procedure took place. Arnold Paulssen traveled through Thuringia to find out about opinions on the question of the emperor's abdication. In Meiningen, Coburg, Gotha and Schwarzburg, abdication was rejected, while Reuss was more accessible. Even Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach (1876-1923) saw the need for the abdication of the emperor. The realization that democratization was necessary met resistance less from the princes than from the state ministries. In Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, however, the state parliament also campaigned for reforms.

Until November 1918, the princes held the view that only the emperor had to abdicate. At the end of October 1918 there was a mutiny in Kiel, on October 30th and 31st a mutiny also took place on the S. M. S. Thuringia . The war flag and pennant were brought down and the red flag was raised instead.

There were also revolutionary activities in Thuringia since November 8th . On November 9, 1918, a workers 'and soldiers' council was founded in Erfurt, Prussia, through which the revolutionaries took power. As the first ruler in the territorial states, Wilhelm Ernst of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach abdicated on the same day , followed by Bernhard III. von Sachsen-Meiningen on November 10th and Heinrich XXVII. on November 10th for Reuss younger line and on November 11th for Reuss older line. On November 13th, Carl Eduard von Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha abdicated after violent pressure from the street. The republic was proclaimed in Sachsen-Altenburg on November 10th, although Ernst II did not abdicate until November 13th. As the last Thuringian and generally the last German prince, Günther Victor abdicated on November 23 for Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt and on November 25 for Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. On November 22nd, he signed a new law for the state government in Rudolstadt, and on November 25th in Sondershausen.

The Weimar Constitution was drawn up in Weimar , which gave the Weimar Republic its name and was the valid constitution in the German Reich from 1919 to 1945. On February 6, 1919, the National Constituent Assembly met for the first time in the Weimar Theater . Berlin was not the venue because unrest there endangered the independence and security of the MPs. The choice of Weimar was probably also intended as a sign of the connection to the humanity ideals of the Weimar Classicism , but it was primarily for military reasons - the Erfurt initially envisaged would have been more difficult to defend in the event of an attack. The constitution was passed on July 31, 1919 and finally signed by President Friedrich Ebert in Schwarzburg on August 11, 1919 .

State of Thuringia 1920 to 1945

Law concerning the state of Thuringia. 30 April 1920

From February 6 to September 30, 1919, the constituent national assembly met in Weimar . On August 11, it passed the so-called Weimar Constitution , according to which the German republic, which existed until 1933, was called the Weimar Republic .

With the exception of Gotha, the revolution in the Thuringian territorial states was relatively peaceful, although the situation in many cities and municipalities remained extremely tense for months. In Gotha, where representatives of the left wing of the USPD set the tone , government troops led by General Maercker intervened for the first time in February 1919 . The Kapp Putsch sparked civil war-like clashes in March 1920, particularly in Gotha, but also in other parts of Thuringia (see Kapp Putsch in Thuringia ). The USPD government in Gotha was deposed by the Reich President in an emergency decree in April 1920 .

Within a short time, the Thuringian states became free states with a republican constitution, whereby the dual duchy of Saxony-Coburg and Gotha became the two free states of Coburg and Gotha. The two former Russian principalities merged as early as 1919 to form the People's State of Reuss . The Free State of Coburg decided in a referendum on November 30, 1919 with 88 percent against an annexation to Thuringia, whereupon the unification with the Free State of Bavaria was completed on July 1, 1920 . The remaining seven people or free states took the path of unification, although at first it was unclear whether a Greater Thuringia solution with the Prussian territories or just a Lesser Thuringia solution should come about. However, the rejection of territorial assignments on the part of Prussia quickly referred to the second variant, which resulted in the establishment of the state of Thuringia with the capital Weimar on May 1, 1920. This and had covers an area of 11,763 was characterized by political turmoil: After the First World War and in the period of the Weimar Republic there were in Thuringia also strong Communist movements, about the November Revolution in Gotha or in November 1923, when Thuringia with the Reichsexekution occupied because there was a KPD government participation there. On the other hand, a stronghold of National Socialism developed in the Free State of Thuringia under the Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel . From January 1930 to April 1931 there was the first ethnic National Socialist government in Germany in Thuringia, called the Frick government after its National Socialist Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick . As early as 1932, under Sauckel , the NSDAP alone was able to form the state's government. The country existed in the geographic and political form mentioned until the end of the Second World War.

The further history of the state of Thuringia from 1920 to 1945 is presented in the main article State of Thuringia .

State of Thuringia 1945 to 1952 and districts of Thuringia

Data in 1950
State capital : Erfurt
Area : 15,585 km²
Residents : 2,837,600
License plate : ST
Map of Thuringia between 1945 and 1952
The state of Thuringia 1945–1952

Towards the end of the Second World War , in the first half of April 1945, the area was initially occupied by the Americans after variously violent fighting. The Americans installed Hermann Brill as president of the state administration . Due to the Allied Yalta agreements Thuringia was occupied between 2 and 6 July 1945 by Soviet troops, under which Rudolf Paul to the provincial government (including state President ) was appointed. In 1947, after Paul had fled to the American zone of occupation, Werner Eggerath finally became district president. In 1946 the Thuringian state parliament was elected.

In the period that followed, there were some border changes between the American and Soviet occupation zones . For details, see the article on the history of the administrative structure of Thuringia . In 1946 the state of Thuringia received a constitution, and in 1950 the seat of government was moved from Weimar to Erfurt. The area of ​​the state of Thuringia now consisted of the former Free State of Thuringia without the exclave Allstedt , as well as the area of ​​the former Prussian administrative district Erfurt and the rule Schmalkalden with a total area of ​​15,585 km².

In 1949 Thuringia became part of the GDR . On July 25, 1952, as part of an administrative reform in the GDR , the Landtag passed the law on the further democratization of the structure and functioning of the state organs in Thuringia . The country was thus relieved of its function. From then on, the districts of Erfurt , Gera and Suhl existed , whereby the districts of Erfurt and Gera experienced area changes or border straightening to the neighboring states of Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony , which mostly correspond to the current state borders, compared to the dissolved state of Thuringia .

Free State of Thuringia

The first cabinet of the newly founded state of Thuringia after his appointment on November 8, 1990 ( Duchač cabinet )

After the political change in the GDR, the state of Thuringia was separated from the districts of Erfurt, Gera and Suhl as well as the districts of Altenburg and Schmölln with the state introduction law of July 22, 1990 with effect from October 14, 1990, eleven days after German reunification (Leipzig district) and Artern (Halle district) formed again. This was particularly controversial in the case of the Altenburg district, where in a citizen survey 54% voted in favor of belonging to Saxony , but the district council voted for Thuringia in a secret ballot.

There were also numerous requests from the Thuringian districts of the Halle district ( Sangerhausen , Artern , Nebra and Naumburg districts , where the long-established citizens perceive themselves as " Thuringians ") to join the new federal state of Thuringia, although only the Artern district was allowed to take part in the referendum and was carried out on May 6, 1990, with the result of around 88% for Thuringia with 78% participation. The other districts were no longer allowed to conduct a public survey, even if the "Land Introduction Act" would not have taken it into account. Any requests from the " Citizens' Initiative North Thuringia " or " Association of North Thuringia with the State of Thuringia ", up to and including the appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court , were unsuccessful. The same applies to the Franconian south of Thuringia (Sonnbenerg, Hildburghausen and Meiningen districts) and the Fulda Ulstertal near Geisa, where citizen surveys were also not allowed in order to prevent these regions from falling outside the prescribed limits. In 1990 there was little time for internal border disputes; reunification should be carried out as quickly as possible. However, this also means that an early democratic reform of the federal states must be carried out for the Central German region in order to achieve optimal regional development throughout Germany and Central Europe.

Based on the federal state in the Weimar Republic, the state is called the Free State of Thuringia . In 1990, Erfurt became the state capital. In 1992 some communities in the former district of Gera became Saxon, see the history of the administrative structure of Thuringia . The states of Bavaria, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate supported the reorganization of the administration from the GDR system to the FRG system as sponsors of the reconstruction aid .

At a meeting at the Wartburg on October 25, 1993, the Thuringian state parliament passed a new constitution, which was provisionally put into effect on October 30, 1993 and finally put into effect on October 16, 1994 following a referendum.

From 1990 to 2014 the CDU was always the ruling party, from 1990 to 1994 in a coalition with the FDP and from 1994 to 1999 and from 2009 to 2014 in a black-red coalition with the SPD . Minister-Presidents were Josef Duchač from 1990 to 1992 , Bernhard Vogel from 1992 to 2003 and Dieter Althaus from 2003 to 2009 . 2009 to 2014 Christine Lieberknecht . Since 2014, Thuringia has been the first German federal state to be ruled by a left-wing Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow , under a red-red-green coalition.

Building history

In Thuringia, buildings and archaeological findings from all epochs of the past 1300 years have been preserved. Some of the important ones are listed below:


In the illustrated manuscripts of the Sachsenspiegel , the Thuringian is always represented symbolically (“talking”) with a dried fish in his hand. The family name Döring is derived from the Thuringian.

See also


  • Steffen Raßloff : Central German history. Saxony - Saxony-Anhalt - Thuringia. Leipzig 2016. New edition Markkleeberg 2019, ISBN 978-3-86729-240-5 .
  • Steffen Raßloff: History of Thuringia . Munich 2010 (2nd edition 2020), ISBN 978-3-406-74734-2 .
  • Steffen Raßloff: Small history of Thuringia . Ilmenau 2017 (2nd edition 2020), ISBN 978-3-95560-056-3 .
  • Reinhard Jonscher, Willy Schilling: Small Thuringian History . Jena 2001, ISBN 3-910141-74-9 .
  • Steffen Raßloff: Thuringia. A historical overview . Edited by the State Center for Political Education Thuringia. Erfurt 2004 (3rd edition 2015).
  • Hans Patze , Walter Schlesinger (Hrsg.): History of Thuringia. Cologne [u. a.] 1967 ff., ISBN 3-412-08285-6 .
  • Werner Greiling : "Intelligence sheets" and social change in Thuringia. Advertising, communication, reasoning and social disciplining (= writings of the Historical College . Lectures 46) . Munich 1995 ( digitized version ).
  • Sigrid Dušek (ed.): Pre- and early history of Thuringia. Results of archaeological research in text and images. Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-8062-1504-9 .
  • Ulrich Hess: History of Thuringia 1866 to 1914 . Weimar 1991, ISBN 3-7400-0077-5 .
  • Steffen Raßloff: The "Mustergau". Thuringia at the time of National Socialism. Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-7658-2052-6 .
  • Jürgen John: Sources on the history of Thuringia - from the Reformation to 1918 . Erfurt 1997, ISBN 3-931426-14-9 .
  • Stefan Gerber, Werner Greiling, Marco Swiniartzki (eds.): Industrialization, industrial culture and social movements in Thuringia (= materials on Thuringian history. 1). Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-412-51136-4 .
  • Journal of Thuringian History . Vol. 1 ff. 1852 ff. (1852–1943 as a journal of the Association for Thuringian History and Archeology . 1992–2007 as a journal of the Association for Thuringian History ) ISSN  0943-9846 .

Web links

Commons : History of Thuringia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. In the 18th century Thuringia was seen as part of Saxony, as the following passage from the play Minna von Barnhelm (1767) by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing shows.
    HOST (writes). "Von Barnhelm" - Coming? where from, madam?
    YOUNG LADY. From my goods from Saxony.
    HOST (writes). "Goods from Saxony" - from Saxony! Eh, ei, from Saxony, gracious lady? from Saxony?
    FRANZISKA. Now? why not? Surely it is not a sin in this country to be from Saxony?
    HOST. A sin? Guard! that would be a whole new sin! - So from Saxony? Egg, egg! from Saxony! Dear Saxony! - But wherever I am, madam, Saxony is not small and has several - what should I call it? - Districts, provinces. - Our police are very precise, madam. -
    YOUNG LADY. I understand: from my goods from Thuringia.
    HOST. From Thuringia! Yes, that's better, madam, that's more accurate. - (Writes and reads.) "The Fraulein von Barnhelm, coming from her property in Thuringia, together with a chambermaid and two servants" -
  2. Gerhard Schulze offers an overview: The November Revolution 1918 in Thuringia, Erfurt 1976. On the events in Gotha cf. Helge Matthiesen : Bourgeoisie and National Socialism in Thuringia. Bourgeois Gotha from 1918 to 1930, Jena / Stuttgart 1994 and Ewald Buchsbaum: The emergence of a left revolutionary wing in the Gotha USPD. In: Contributions to the history of Thuringia, Volume II, Erfurt 1970, pp. 148–160. For Erfurt cf. Steffen Raßloff : Escape into the national community. The Erfurt bourgeoisie between the Empire and the Nazi dictatorship, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2003.

Individual evidence

  1. Historical map, urn : nbn: de: hbz: 061: 1-31119 - digitized version of the University and State Library in Düsseldorf
  2. ^ Wolfgang Timpel: Archaeological research on the early history of Thuringian cities . In: Early history of the European city. Writings on prehistory and early history . tape 44 . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1991.
  3. ^ G. Fromm: Thuringian Railway Line Lexicon.
  4. ^ Hanno Müller: How the Altenburger Land came to Thuringia after reunification. In: Thüringer Allgemeine , August 17, 2010.
  5. Results of the public survey of May 6, 1990 . In: Newspaper Thüringer Allgemeine from May 9, 1990 (Ed.): Thüringer Allgemeine . Volume 1, number 95.
  6. Steffen Raβloff: The Land of Thuringia 1990/93 . In: Landesregierung Thüringen (Hrsg.): Thuringia, sheets for regional studies . No. 83 .
  7. Hessian Ministry of Finance: Interview with Dr. Worms. In: Hessian Ministry of Finance. Retrieved January 17, 2020 .