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coat of arms Germany map
Coat of arms of the city of Sonneberg
Map of Germany, position of the city of Sonneberg highlighted

Coordinates: 50 ° 21 '  N , 11 ° 11'  E

Basic data
State : Thuringia
County : Sonneberg
Height : 400 m above sea level NHN
Area : 84.69 km 2
Residents: 23,516 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density : 278 inhabitants per km 2
Postal code : 96515
Primaries : 03675, 036762, 036703
License plate : SON, NH
Community key : 16 0 72 018

City administration address :
Bahnhofsplatz 1
96515 Sonneberg
Website :
Mayor : Heiko Voigt (independent)
Location of the district town of Sonneberg in the district of the same name
Föritztal Frankenblick Goldisthal Lauscha Neuhaus am Rennweg Schalkau Sonneberg Steinach (Thüringen)map
About this picture
Sonneberg town hall

Sonneberg ( East Franconian -regional Sumbarch ) is a town in the Franconian south of Thuringia and the seat of the district of the same name . It is a medium-sized center and forms a geographically and economically coherent urban unit with the neighboring Upper Franconian partner town of Neustadt bei Coburg .

Sonneberg became known as the “world toy city ” - which the German Toy Museum reminds us of today - and in specialist circles through the Sonneberg observatory founded in 1925 . The Thuringian Slate Mountains border the city with the Franconian Forest in the east.


Geographical location

The city lies in the valleys of the Röthen and Steinach, which flow south towards Upper Franconia, on the northern edge of the Upper Main hill country (south of the Franconian line ) and extends over the Linder plain in front of it to the Thuringian- Bavarian border.

Neighboring communities

Clockwise, starting from the north: Graefenthal ( Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district ), Tettau ( Kronach district ), Föritztal (Sonneberg district), Neustadt bei Coburg ( Coburg district ), Frankenblick , Steinach , Lauscha , Neuhaus am Rennweg (all Sonneberg district)

City structure

According to the main statute of the city of Sonneberg, the urban area is in the districts of Altstadt (Upper City), Bettelhecken , Hönbach , Hüttensteinach , City Center (Lower City), Köppelsdorf , Malmerz , Mürschnitz , Neufang , Oberlind , Steinbach , Unterlind , Wehd , Wolkenrasen , Spechtsbrunn , Hasenthal , Vorwerk , Haselbach , Schneidemühle , Friedrichsthal , Eschenthal , Georgshütte , Blechhammer and Hüttengrund .

The urban area consists of the districts of Sonneberg, Bettelhecken, Hönbach, Hüttensteinach, Köppelsdorf, Malmerz, Mürschnitz, Neufang, Oberlind, Steinbach, Unterlind, Spechtsbrunn, Hasenthal, Haselbach, Hohenofen, Eschenthal and Hüttengrund.

Neighborhoods are the Upper City and the Lower City .


  • 1919: begging hedges
  • 1922: Hönbach
  • 1923: Neufang
  • 1950, July 1st: Köppelsdorf (created in 1923 through the merger of Hüttensteinach, Köppelsdorf and Steinbach), Malmerz, Mürschnitz and Oberlind.
  • 1994, June 30th: Unterlind
  • 2013, December 31: Oberland am Rennsteig (created on January 1, 1997 through the merger of Engnitzthal and Haselbach)


Origin to the 14th century

Sonneberg around 1596

“The Sonneberg Castle was also called Sonneberg Castle or the Haus zu Sonneberg in old documents. In the year 480 Süne or Süno, Duke of Franconia, built this castle because of the Thuringian incursions ... “so it says on page 64 in the topography of the Duke of Saxony-Koburg-Meiningischen share in the Duchy of Koburg from the year 1781. This not uncritical Representation is based on the story of the Franks by Abbot Johannes Trithemius from 1514.

Although there are no reliable references from the Franconian military leader Sunno in the Upper Mainland and the establishment of a castle as a defense against the invading Thuringians, this refers to the first settlements in this area as early as the 5th century. The so-called Cella Antiqua , a monk's cell carved in sandstone behind the Richtsteig 1 property, which supposedly dates back to the 9th century, is often considered the oldest cultural monument in the Sonneberg urban area . The only evidence for this interpretation is an entry in a fiefdom register dated March 13, 1361. Then a lower nobleman received "kempnatam antiquam et camerum super cellam in castro Sunneberg" - that is, the old bower and a living room above a cella in Sonneberg Castle - as a fief. This cella was located within the walls of the castle, not in the old town where the so-called Cella Antiqua is located. Also, the word cella in contemporary parlance does not necessarily mean a single monk cell. The entry could also refer to a chapel or a small monastery. In this context, Thomas Schwämmlein points out that a smaller monastic community was also secured on the Coburg Burgberg from the 13th century. According to this, there may have been a small monastery at the Sonneberg Castle, which was called a cella in the fiefdom register. The so-called Cella Antiqua in the old town of Sonneberg should be viewed as a much more recent storage room. The cool sandstone cellar was probably used to store beer, which was allowed to be brewed by the townspeople from the late Middle Ages. A raised relief cross, as can be found in the Cella Antiqua, was also to be found in another cellar in the old town until 1994. There it was probably intended to implore God's blessing for the beer stored in the sandstone cave.

The name Sonneberg was first mentioned in documents in 1207. It goes back to the noble family of the Lords of Sonneberg , which is documented in the 12th and 13th centuries and founded a settlement below the Sonneberg Castle , which originally consisted of the estate and two hamlets , the village of "Alt- Rötin, presumed to be in Herrnau "And the" Stätlein zu Rötin under the Sonneberg Castle ". The Lords of Sonneberg were ministerials in the service of the Dukes of Andechs-Meranien , who, as a Bavarian noble family, established a lordly administration in the region around Sonneberg and Coburg. After the end of the Duchy of Merania, they acquired extensive property in the surrounding area and founded the Sonnefeld Monastery in 1252 . This high point of the sex heralded decay in the further course of the 13th century until 1310 the sex died out in the male line.

After the Sonnebergs died out, the small lordship fell to the Counts of Henneberg in 1317 . In 1349 the new sovereign, the regent Jutta von Henneberg , confirmed and extended the municipal rights of Sonneberg with a document. In 1353, Sonneberg fell to the Wettins together with the nearby Coburg . The council and mayor held the lower courts. The town with the Johanniskirche on the road from Coburg to Saalfeld was walled.

15th century to 19th century

The Catholic parish has belonged to the Diocese of Würzburg since ancient times . In 1526 the Reformation was introduced in Sonneberg. The Latin school opened soon after .

After the "Leipzig division" in 1485, the Coburg (this is how the area to which Sonneberg belonged was called) came to the Ernestine line of this house. After Coburg and thus Sonneberg between 1542 and 1553 had already been an Ernestine secondary school under Duke Johann Ernst of Saxony , this territory was separated from the entire Ernestine state in 1572, and a principality of Saxony-Coburg was created, which was jointly owned by the dukes Johann Casimir and Johann Was ruled seriously . In 1596 both divided this principality into Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Eisenach . After the death of Johann Casimir in 1633 briefly reunited under Johann Ernst, after his death in 1638 it was transferred to Saxe-Altenburg and in 1672 to Saxe-Gotha . In the course of the "Gotha partition" in 1680, another principality of Saxe-Coburg emerged under Duke Albrecht , although it was considerably smaller than its predecessor.

In 1699 Albrecht von Sachsen-Coburg died without an heir and protracted inheritance disputes ensued. In 1735 the Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen was granted the city of Sonneberg, but this remained with the Duchy of Coburg as the Duchy of Saxony-Coburg-Meiningen. It was not incorporated into Sachsen-Meiningen until 1826.

The quarrying of whetstones and slate for slates has been documented since 1500 . From the long-established wooden goods manufacture, the production of the Sonneberg toys known as Nuremberg trinkets developed from the 16th century . Around 1700, the Dressel company, and from 1873 Cuno & Otto Dressel, the largest manufacturer and exporter of toys was founded in Sonneberg. From 1805, with the introduction of paper mache , Sonneberg developed into a toy production center with international status , especially in the manufacture of dolls (see also: FM Schilling ). In 1840 a city fire destroyed the old city center around the market square in what is now the Upper City. In 1883 the industrial school opened in Mühlgasse 4 , where artistic porcelain, glass and toy design was taught.

20th century

Dispatch of dolls in the toy town of Sonneberg (November 1931)

The term "world toy city" was coined around 1913 due to the share of Sonneberg production on the world market. Before the First World War , around 20% of the toys traded on the world market in the Sonneberg area were mainly manufactured at home .

From the 1870s onwards, the toy industry did not respond to increasing demand and falling sales prices with a transition to industrial production in larger factories using innovative techniques. Even if exports to the USA rose by around 600% between 1865 and 1885, in 1880 85% of the companies had just four employees. It was the number of these traditionally working small and micro-businesses that increased tremendously in response to the increased demand. In 1880 there were a total of 321 companies. In 1899, almost 20 years later, in 2395, an increase of 746%. In close cooperation of many small and specialized companies and associated home workers, the most important local product at the time, dolls, in different shapes, could be produced effectively and inexpensively without the use of expensive capital goods. The distribution of market power in this system, however, burdened workers in the small businesses and - above all - homeworkers and their families with brutal cost pressure that determined living conditions. Since there were large numbers of skilled craftsmen looking for work, publishers and manufacturers did not have to compete for labor. In order to be able to generate what is absolutely necessary for subsistence, the entire family of homeworkers usually had to work long hours every day until they were completely exhausted. Several indications for the desperate situation of large parts of the population at this time are tangible. Despite various attempts by the authorities to master the rampant child labor, it never succeeded in combating the widespread permanent disregard of compulsory schooling in Sonneberg. The homeworkers were forced to raise their children as well, to contribute to the family income. At the same time, they denied them the opportunity to gain access to education themselves. 50% of the adult workers earned less than 600 marks a year in 1905 and thus remained tax-exempt as recipients of minimal income. The unhealthy working environment, the extremely cramped living conditions and the poor, inadequate diet contributed significantly to the fact that the number of people suffering from tuberculosis in Sonneberg was a third higher than in the rest of the empire. As a rule, a homeworker's family lived in a room in which they cooked, slept and worked - often with harmful substances. In various parts of the city, which were mostly inhabited by homeworkers, the infection rate with tuberculosis was even three times higher than the national mean. A third of all deaths there were caused by lung disease.

Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that social democrats and later also communists received an above-average number of votes in Sonneberg. In 1913 there were violent clashes between protesting homeworkers and the police, who attacked the demonstrators with sabers drawn. Nevertheless, the living conditions of many homeworkers hardly changed until the late 1920s.

The toy museum was opened in 1901 and expanded in 1953. Since 1919 the surrounding suburbs were incorporated .

Rail connections existed since 1858 to Coburg, since 1886 towards Lauscha (both on the Coburg – Ernstthal am Rennsteig ), since 1901 to Stockheim ( Sonneberg – Stockheim ) and since 1910 to Eisfeld ( Eisfeld – Sonneberg ). In 1921, Siemens-Schuckertwerke opened its small building plant II in Sonneberg, which in 1939 produced installation material such as fuse elements and switches with 987 employees.

The AOK building built in 1922/23 .
Woolworth Commercial and Warehouse , 1928
Trading house Kresge
Memorial plaque for the death march of April 1945 in front of the house at Bettelhecker Strasse 24

One of the last heydays of the toy industry led to the development of the station square with representative buildings in the 1920s. First, the US company Halbourn built a six-story trading house that has been owned by the AOK since 1925 . Opposite it, in 1926, the US department store company FW Woolworth Company , which had been purchasing locally since 1880, built a trading and warehouse for the purchase and export of toys and Christmas tree decorations . The five-storey reinforced concrete building with its own siding was built according to plans by the Sonneberg architect Walter Buchholz. The building, which was used as a warehouse by the Luftwaffe clothing department during World War II, was set on fire on April 11, 1945 before American troops marched in, after it had been opened to the population for looting shortly beforehand . At the end of the 1950s, a green area with a memorial to the day of liberation and German-Soviet friendship was built on the rubble site. The memorial was leveled after the fall of the Wall. Opposite the train station, the city built its new town hall with a 40 meter high town hall tower in 1927–1928 based on plans by Karl Dröner. At the same time, the US company SS Kresge & Co. from New York City built a new department store on Gustav-König-Strasse with its expressionistic architecture, and in 1925 Cuno founded the Sonneberg observatory in the Neufang district Hoffmeister .

Even before the outbreak of the global economic crisis , the city of Sonneberg was insolvent due to excessive indebtedness and placed under compulsory administration. The global economic crisis brought about drastic changes not only for municipal budgets. In particular, the export-oriented toy industry saw a rapid decline in sales. Falling purchasing power in the USA, which was also hard hit by the economy, growing competition from the cheaper and more efficient Japanese toy industry, and finally management errors - they failed to adapt production to changing demand - led to a radical deterioration in the economic situation. Towards the end of the Weimar Republic, the city of Sonneberg had the highest unemployment rate in Thuringia with the horrific value of 50%. The economic hardship made parts of the population in the region particularly susceptible to the political propaganda of the National Socialists . At the beginning of the republic, almost two thirds of those eligible to vote had voted for social democracy , but the NSDAP was able to regularly win an absolute majority in elections after the crisis began. In addition to the high-reach sympathetic to the Nazi camp of the national and Protestant commoners there were formerly predominantly "Thuringian Forest red" now the earlier social democratic and communist workers who voted Nazi in large numbers.

At the beginning of the National Socialist era , residents were persecuted for political, racist and religious reasons, sentenced to prison and penitentiary or deported to concentration camps. One of them was the co-founder of the KPD local group Otto Bergner in Köppelsdorf , who was arrested several times, transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp and finally transferred to the Annener Gußstahlwerk satellite camp, where he died in March 1945. A street name reminds of him. A street that has since been renamed Marienstrasse remembered the worker Adolf Wicklein , who was sentenced to death by the People's Court and executed in the courtyard of the Weimar Regional Court for providing humanitarian aid to Soviet prisoners of war who had fled . In Köppelsdorf there was also resistance from Protestant church circles against the Nazi regime, especially against the German-Christian church leadership. Pastor Reinhard Metz advocated disciplined pastors with sermons and letters. A member of the Confessing Church (BK) provided a room in their factory building at Friedrichstrasse 38 for denominational church youth work. The city's Jews suffered anti-Semitic persecution and deportation that led them to emigration or to extermination camps, which few survived. Between 1934 and 1943, 687 men and women from Sonneberg and the surrounding area were victims of forced sterilization .

As part of the armament of the Wehrmacht , armaments factories were established from 1935. Among them was the Thuringian Zahnradwerke GmbH Sonneberg in Bettelhecken , a subsidiary of the Leipzig mechanical engineering company G. E. Reinhardt . From 1937, the Robert Hartwig Lastensegler toy factory ( DFS 230 , later Gotha Go 242 ) and the Stuttgart-based J. C. Eckardt AG manufactured on-board instruments for the Air Force in a newly built branch .

In 1937 the Air Force Clothing Office (LBA (S)) came to Sonneberg, for which a large building complex was built in the city center. The building was built from 1935 in the neoclassical style typical of the time , had a large inner courtyard, its own railway connection, an officers' mess and, in particular in the large entrance hall with marble stairs and wall tiles, was designed impressively representative for visitors. With orders from the Air Force Clothing Office , the company Cuno & Otto Dressel was able to replace the declining toy production with uniform tailoring. The Air Force Clothing Office was used from 1948 as the administrative center for the city and the district. The striking building complex, which belonged to VEB Piko from 1962 , was not registered as a monument , unlike the Lenkwerk in Bielefeld that was built at the same time . In 2003 the city acquired the run-down, vacant, five-story building and had it demolished.

During the Second World War , around 4,300 men and women, mainly from the Soviet Union , but also from many other nations occupied by Germany, had to do forced labor primarily in armaments production: in the Thuringian cogwheel works , in the Siemens-Schuckert works (SSW) in Oberlind , in the Louis company Siegel , from J. C. Eckardt and from Kopp & Solonot . Where in September 1944 on the Reinhardt factory premises (Hall Road 39) opened KZ Außenkommando Sonnenberg of Buchenwald worked 400 mostly average under inhumane conditions Jewish-Polish / Hungarian prisoners. Many prisoners died in April 1945 on the death march towards what is now the Czech Republic. In 1982, at the instigation of the SED district leadership in Sonneberg, metal plaques were installed along the two routes to commemorate them.

See also : Sunberg concentration camp outside command

On 16 February 1945 was carried out air raid of 23 US B-17 bombers with 800 bombs (half of them incendiaries that other high-explosive -Sprengbomben) to Sonnenberg. The freight yard and a residential area bordering the railway facilities received the most hits. 28 civilians died and dozens suffered serious injuries. Had it not been for the fact that many bombs had fallen on open land, there would have been even more victims.

In 1946/1947 Soviet military tribunals sentenced 21 young people (aged 15 and over) in Sonneberg to death (three times executed) or to long-term labor camp sentences on charges of “ werewolf ”. Ten of the young people perished in special Soviet camps. A total of 77 young people from the area of ​​today's Sonneberg (including the incorporation) were convicted, eight of them were shot, 30 died in camps. The judgments of the military tribunals did not meet the fundamental requirements of the rule of law. The retaliation for the cruel crimes of the Wehrmacht in prosecution and judgment has often played an important role. However, the work of the military tribunals cannot be interpreted solely as an expression of factually in every case of unfounded Stalinist terror. Often, especially in the first years after the war, people were tried who were very much involved in the crimes of the Nazi regime. The three young men born in 1928, 1927 and 1926, sentenced to death on charges of membership in the werewolf organization, were rehabilitated by the Soviet authorities in the early to mid-1990s . Retiree Martin Albin, who was 67 years old in 1946 and sentenced to death for allegedly producing and distributing leaflets and attending anti-Soviet meetings, was also rehabilitated. Further death sentences must be viewed as having a high probability of being arbitrary. The victims were no longer juveniles at the time of the sentencing. The tool lathe operator Bernd Schilling was born in 1921, the former lieutenant Arno Lotz in 1924, the locksmith Hermann Gemmer in 1899. Adolf Greuling, who was born in 1892, met the former local group leader of the NSDAP in Oberlind. Erich Wacher, born a year earlier, was accused of participating directly in the economic exploitation of Soviet territory occupied by German troops.

The cogwheel works were completely destroyed and abandoned after dismantling in 1946. Other former arms factories switched production and continued to exist under the new company . For example, the uniform tailoring of the dress shop as VEB Herko became a manufacturer of high-quality men's clothing , the Hartwig company manufactured wooden housings for radio and television sets, folding boats and wooden toys as VEB radio housings , and Siemens-Schuckertwerke began with the production of electrical household appliances as VEB IKA Oberlind or the former Company JC Eckardt manufactured watches and precision mechanical devices as VEB Feinmechanik .

1952 was Thuringia dissolved and the circuit Sonnenberg the district Suhl assigned. From 1953 the district of Wolkenrasen was built as a residential area on the former Oberlinder corridor. In 1952 the VEB Stern-Radio Sonneberg (formerly Elektro-Apparatefabrik Köppelsdorf) and in 1956 the VEB United Spielwarenwerke Sonneberg "sonni" (from 1981 VEB sonni Sonneberg, parent company) was established. In 1971 four state-owned businesses were merged to form the "Kombinat Spielwaren Sonneberg - sonni". In 1978 there were eleven "nationally owned" toy companies and three combines, the "Plasta Werke Sonneberg", the "Elektro-Keramische Kombinat Sonneberg" and from 1974 to 1981 the "Kombinat Piko Sonneberg", then "VEB Kombinat Spielwaren Sonneberg" in the Sonneberg district.

During the GDR period, the situation directly on the inner-German border had a negative impact on the development of the city, especially between 1961 and 1972, when the city area was a restricted border area . The ordered separation of Sonneberg from the previously closely connected regions of northern Upper Franconia was not accepted by large parts of the population without compulsion.

A considerable number of Sonneberg citizens were forcibly relocated from their homeland during the existence of the GDR. As part of the so-called Vergeziefer campaign , a total of 381 people were brought to the Jena district on June 6, 1952. The reasons given by the authorities for the selection of the persons concerned often seem bizarre and were not infrequently colored by the personal animosity of the local decision-makers. The immediate family members of the chosen ones - spouses and children - were also expelled from the district. Specifically, 87 people in the Sonneberg district were resettled because of allegedly "negative attitudes". 29 was accused of being “pushers and cross-border commuters”. On average in the GDR, an unusually high number of people, 23, had to leave their homeland because the authorities classified them as unreliable because of their membership of Jehovah's Witnesses. Initially 985 people were to be deported, and after the list was shortened at the urging of higher-level agencies, 850 people were to be deported.

Many Sonnebergers fled to the west. 500 people from the district left their homeland for West Germany at the beginning of June. The coercive measures sparked outrage among the population and prompted spontaneous protests. A large number of Sonneberg citizens demonstrated on the demarcation line.

In October 1961, residents of what was then the Sonneberg district again fell victim to planned deportations. The measures, which were carried out like a raid by a so-called “action group” made up of eight to twelve representatives from various groups of the executive, proceeded with unrelenting severity. In principle, little consideration was given to the victims' medical emergencies, large numbers of children or other obstacles. 33 people were affected in the city and 22 in the villages of the district.

After the fall of the Wall , toy companies were privatized or re-privatized, if they still existed. On February 18, 1990, the workers' welfare organization was re- established here - for the first time in the territory of the still existing GDR - 57 years after it was banned by the National Socialists .

21st century

In 2002 the Thuringian Day took place in Sonneberg . The city became a member of the European metropolitan region of Nuremberg in July 2012, initially on a trial basis , and has been a permanent member since October 2013.

The 14th Franconian Day was celebrated on July 6th and 7th, 2019 by the Upper Franconia district together with the Bavarian state government and the two host cities Sonneberg and Neustadt bei Coburg for the first time across borders with over 25,000 visitors under the motto: GEMEINSAM.FRÄNKISCH.STARK.

Population development

An extraordinary surge in growth was recorded in 2013 when the municipality of Oberland was incorporated as part of a regional reform.

Development of the population (from 1960 December 31) :

Population development in Sonneberg from 1829 to 2017

1829 to 1981

  • 1829: 03,028
  • 1895: 12.167
  • 1905: 15.003
  • 1946: 21,534 1
  • 1950: 30.182 2
  • 1960: 28.936
  • 1981: 28.733

1984 to 1999

  • 1984: 28,440
  • 1994: 25,880
  • 1995: 25.481
  • 1996: 25.297
  • 1997: 25.151
  • 1998: 24,951
  • 1999: 24,892

2000 to 2006

  • 2000: 24,837
  • 2001: 24,690
  • 2002: 24,582
  • 2003: 24.246
  • 2004: 24,026
  • 2005: 23,805
  • 2006: 23,681

2007 to 2013

  • 2007: 23,252
  • 2008: 22.807
  • 2009: 22,529
  • 2010: 22,356
  • 2011: 22,222
  • 2012: 21,737
  • 2013: 23,796

since 2014

  • 2014: 23,620
  • 2015: 23,736
  • 2016: 23,804
  • 2017: 23,756
  • 2018: 23,830
Data source from 1994: Thuringian State Office for Statistics

1 October 29th
2 August 31st


Local elections 2019
Turnout: 52.7% (2014: 40.7%)
n. k.
Gains and losses
compared to 2014
 % p
-4.0  % p
+ 24.5  % p
-8.7  % p
-6.7  % p
-0.3  % p
+ 2.2  % p
-3.7  % p
-3.4  % p
Template: election chart / maintenance / notes

City council

Since the local elections on May 26, 2019 , the city ​​council has been composed as follows:

Party / list Seats
CDU 12 (−1)
AfD 7 (+7)
LEFT 5 (−3)
SPD 3 (−2)
FDP 2 (± 0)
GE-MU-FEU-TRA 1 (+1)
NPD 0 (−1)
GREEN 0 (−1)
total 30th

District Mayor :

  • Haselbach: Mario Bischoff (non-party), 87.5%
  • Hasenthal: Birgitt Kramer-Büttner (Die Linke), 91.6%
  • Hönbach: Heidi Bitterer (non-party), 95.6%
  • Hüttengrund: Beate Sperschneider (non-party), 64.1%
  • Neufang: Ronny Kremps (non-party), 67.0%
  • Oberlind: Werner Rau (CDU), 64.4% in the runoff election
  • Spechtsbrunn: Björn Greiner (non-party) 52.4%
  • Unterlind: Ruth Maaser (non-party), 59.5% in the runoff election

(Status: local elections on May 26th and June 9th, 2019 )


In the election of the mayor on August 21, 2016, Heiko Voigt, candidate of the CDU, was elected mayor for the first time with 67.9% of the vote. The turnout was 52.0%.

Former mayor since 1839 The "Provisional Regulation on the Municipal Constitution and Administration of the City of Sonneberg" of September 26, 1839 introduced a new municipal constitution in Sonneberg, which remained in force until the Weimar Republic. The following people have been mayors of the city of Sonneberg since then:

  • 1839: -0000Andreas Fleischmann
  • 1840–1843: Ernst Theodor Hertel
  • 1843–1848: Friedrich Adolph Willing
  • 1848–1876: Carl Friedrich Adam Hermann
  • 1876–1877: Arnold Christian Heubach
  • 1877–1881: EF Max Bürker
  • 1881-1884: August Meyer
  • 1884–1893: Hermann von Katte
  • 1893–1909: Hugo Liman
  • 1909–1916: Hermann Keßler , represented from 1914 on account of military service
    by 2nd Mayor August von Ritter
  • 1916–1920: Hans Müller
  • 1920–1922: Karl Knauer (SPD)
  • 1922–1925: Otto Jahreis (SPD)
  • 1925–1930: Karl Knauer (SPD)
  • 1930–1945: Max Zogbaum (independent, later NSDAP)
  • 1945: -0000Ernst Glöckner (independent)
  • 1945–1950: Willy Geyer (KPD, later SED)
  • 1950–1951: Olga Brückner (SED)
  • 1951–1957: Gerhard Braun (SED)
  • 1957–1959: Siegmund Hausdörfer (SED)
  • 1959–1961: Willy Bunzel (SED)
  • 1961–1974: Gerhard Stier (SED)
  • 1974–1984: Armin Brand (SED)
  • 1984–1990: Klaus Oberender (SED, later non-party)
  • 1990–1994: Siegfried Feller (CDU)
  • 1994–2016: Sibylle Abel (FDP, later CDU)

Community finances

The city's debt level on December 31, 2018 totaled around 23.93 million euros. That is around 1,005 euros per inhabitant.

coat of arms

Sonneberg has officially carried the coat of arms since October 5, 1934:

Coat of arms Sonneberg.svg
Blazon : "In gold, a red-armored, red-tongued, double-tailed black lion, accompanied by two octagonal black stars."
Reasons for the coat of arms: The upright lion looking to the right (heraldically) refers to the transition of the city to the margraviate of Meißen in 1353 and has been in the city's coat of arms ever since. The two stars have been used as additional characters - with an interruption in the 19th century until 1934 - in the city's coat of arms since the 16th century.

As an unofficial coat of arms and symbol of the city of Sonneberg, which has been known since the 1920s, the image of the "Sonneberg Rider" is still used today.

Town twinning

Culture and sights

City layout

Today's inner city, also known as the Lower City , was created on the drawing board after the old Upper City was completely destroyed by a city fire in 1840. It is therefore the only planned urban development in Thuringia from the 19th century.

The original city center was in the Upper City , north of today's city center in the narrow valley of the Röthen. The urban development center of the new complex in the lower town was initially the Juttaplatz (named after Jutta von Henneberg , who notarized Sonneberg's town charter in 1349) not far from the town church.

In the 1920s, the station square with its representative buildings was added as a reference point. The city center of Sonneberg is therefore mainly characterized by architecture from the period between 1840 and 1930, which today still forms a largely closed ensemble.


German Toy Museum
  • The most famous museum in Sonneberg is the German Toy Museum . It was created in 1901 and, as Germany's oldest toy museum, shows a selection from around 100,000 objects. The building was erected in 1901 in the neo-baroque style. At first it served as an industrial school for toy and porcelain design, which was directed by the well-known artists Reinhard Möller and Karl Staudinger ; since 1938 it has been used entirely as a museum.
  • There is also the German Teddy Bear Museum in the city.
  • The Astronomy Museum Sonneberg is located in the rooms of the observatory and was founded in the late 1990s. The museum also provides information about the life of the observatory's founder, Cuno Hoffmeister.
  • The ten rooms of the Somso Museum of the Somso company run by the Sommer family are also open to the public by agreement. She has been making models in Sonneberg since 1876, primarily for teaching medicine and biology.
  • There is a show aquarium and a home animal garden in Sonneberg .


City Church of St. Peter
Tower trading house Kresge

The neo-Gothic town church of St. Peter was built by Carl Alexander Heideloff between 1843 and 1845 . The model was the Lorenz Church in Nuremberg . The church has a three-aisled nave and a south-western twin tower facade. Sandstone was used as building material, with plastered wood in the interior. The interior is mainly from the 19th century. The cemetery is located above the town church.

The city's Catholic Church is the Parish Church of St. Stephen . It is a neo-Romanesque basilica from 1902/1903, which was built under the direction of the Berlin architects Reimarus & Hetzel . A mighty tower facing the street and a small tower facing the garden are attached to the church. The original, magnificent interior painting from 1913, like most of the old inventory, is no longer preserved today.

Some buildings from the 1920s around the station square are also of importance. The Sonneberg main station itself dates from 1907. Opposite it is the New Town Hall, a magnificent neoclassical building from 1928 that dominates the cityscape. It was built according to plans by Karl Dröner . The town hall is dominated by the 45 meter high central tower. The facade is structured by column arrangements. The AOK building from 1927 stands next to the town hall. At that time, the warehouse built in 1922 was converted into an office building with an expressionist character by Walter Buchholz . The facade of the five-story building is decorated with various sculptures. Behind the AOK house is the Sonneberger Post, which was built in 1932 in the style of the new objectivity . Of the once numerous trading houses in Sonneberg, the trading house Kresge deserves special mention, which the American company had Franz Boxberger and Ernst Herbart designed in 1921. The octagonal, expressionist tower structure in the middle section of the building, which was created during an expansion in 1927/28 according to plans by Walter Buchholz, is characteristic. The largest of the trading houses in Sonneberg had been operated by Woolworth since 1926 and stood on the station square opposite the AOK building. It had around 4,200 m² of floor space and around 100,000 m³ of enclosed space and was one of the largest warehouses in Thuringia. It was destroyed in World War II.

Regular events

  • International Sonneberg Jazz Days (annually in November)
  • Sonneberg bird shooting (every year in early July)
  • Puppet days
  • International puppet festival (together with Neustadt bei Coburg )
  • City and Museum Festival (annually in September)
  • Comptoir-Kunstmagazin - the municipal gallery (permanent current exhibitions)
  • Events in the society house (weekly)
  • Lectures in the observatory (every first Monday of the month)

Culinary specialties

  • Sonneberger Rostbratwurst (in Itzgründisch : Sumbarcher Broudwörscht )
  • Sonneberg dumplings - a variant of Thuringian dumplings (in Itzgründisch: Sumbarcher Arpflsklüeß )
  • Vegetable soup (in Itzgründisch: Süßa Schniedla or Saura Schniedla )
  • Fleck (in Itzgründisch: Flack )

Dialect and vernacular

In Sonneberg (Sumbarch), as in the surrounding towns, the Itzgründische dialect is spoken as a sub-form of Main Franconian . The "Sumbarch dialect" is cultivated as a variation of Itzgründisch. The Sonneberg dialect was already described in the 19th century by the linguist August Schleicher in his work Folksy from Sonneberg in the Meininger Oberlande .

The Sonneberg dialect became known nationwide through the appearance of the “Sumbarcher washing women” Doris Motschmann and Silvia Otto at the Carnival in Franconia 2013 in Veitshöchheim.

Economy and Infrastructure

Public facilities

The city is the seat of the district court of Sonneberg , which belongs to the district of the district court of Meiningen .


  • Toys (including Piko , Simba Dickie Group , Plüti-Nova, therapeutic toys, formerly VEB such as VEB Sonni , VEB Plüti ), paper, ceramic and automotive supplier industries , furniture production, formerly also the production of electrical appliances ( EIO ; RFT : Kombinat Sternradio ), Clothing (VEB Herko Sonneberg), technical plastic parts (VEB Plasta Werke - today Mann + Hummel ), electrical ceramics (VEB Elektrokeramische Werke EKS - today Elektrokeramik Sonneberg), mechanical engineering for the ceramics industry (VEB Thuringia) formerly machine factory formerly Georg Dorst AG and construction industry (VEB Landbaukombinat)
  • The private brewery Gessner GmbH & Co. KG was founded in Steinach in 1858 . She moved to Sonneberg in 1997.

Development of a regional hydrogen economy

Sonneberg is one of the germ cells for a decentralized hydrogen region that is being built between the Main and Elbe. In the localhy project , a network of actors from business, science and municipalities has shown how a sustainable, decentralized energy economy can work through the generation of hydrogen with the help of regenerative energies and its use.

In the sewage treatment plant Sonnenberg Heubisch a novel was pressure electrolyzer placed, which serves for the effective and cost-saving production of hydrogen and oxygen from water. Only renewable energy from local sources is used. The hydrogen can be used for electromobility without releasing pollutants. The generation of hydrogen also serves to store energy, so that wind turbines and photovoltaic systems do not have to be switched off if the wind is too strong and solar radiation is too strong . Thus, the use of electro-burners also stabilizes the power grid. localhy is the world's first power-to-gas system that simultaneously promotes increasing energy efficiency and reducing emissions on a decentralized level. With a hydrogen cycle engine, electricity can also be recovered from the stored hydrogen emission-free.

The high-purity oxygen produced in the electrolyser, which is already under high pressure, is fed directly into the clarifier for wastewater treatment. In the biological purification stage in the aeration tank, it increases the purity of the wastewater. This saves the blower that used to direct the oxygen from the ambient air into the clarifier.

The pressure electrolyser and the company filling station for hydrogen vehicles ( hydrogen filling station ) have been available at the Sonneberg-Heubisch sewage treatment plant since the end of 2018. At the first transnational Day of Franconia , which was celebrated jointly by the two neighboring cities of Sonneberg and Neustadt bei Coburg on July 6th and 7th, 2019, the municipal, commercially available cars of the two cities, which run on self-generated hydrogen, could be viewed. The refueling process of fuel cell vehicles only takes a few minutes and there is no range problem as with battery-powered electric cars. The shuttle bus service between the two cities was also supported by a hydrogen bus . A hydrogen train was also used for the first time in Bavaria . The visitors were able to commute with the hydrogen multiple unit Coradia iLint from Alstom between the stations of Neustadt and Sonneberg, which are only a few kilometers apart.



Sonneberg Central Station

Sonneberg is located on the federal highway 89 from Kronach via Sonneberg to Meiningen , which was developed as a bypass. A joint motorway junction on the A 73 with the city of Neustadt bei Coburg is about 15 kilometers from Sonneberg near Coburg (see B 4 ).

Sonneberg is on the German Toy Road .


The Sonneberg main station is on the Coburg – Ernstthal railway line on Rennsteig . The electrified section to Coburg provides a connection to the ICE stop there and on to Lichtenfels , Bamberg and Nuremberg . In the other direction, the route leads via Lauscha to Ernstthal , from there trains continue on the Probstzella – Neuhaus am Rennweg railway to Neuhaus am Rennweg . The connection from Ernstthal to Probstzella is closed today. In addition, Sonneberg is the starting point of the Eisfeld – Sonneberg railway from Sonneberg to Eisfeld and further on as the Werra Railway in the direction of Hildburghausen - Meiningen - Eisenach . From 1901 to 1945 there was a railway line to Stockheim (Upper Franconia) with a connection in Pressig to the Franconian Forest Railway , which, however , was shut down from Neuhaus-Schierschnitz after the Second World War due to the fact that it crossed the inner-German border . The Sonneberg – Neuhaus-Schierschnitz section continued to operate until 1967 and was dismantled in 1972.

Since April 2008, Sonneberg has been the only city in the "New States" that can be reached with the Bayern Ticket .


  • SRF (Südthüringer Regionalfernsehen) for southern Thuringia with regional magazines and teletext information on opening times, on-call services, sports results, among other things
  • In Sonneberg the daily newspaper Freie Wort appears with a local edition.
  • The “district newspaper Wolkenrasen” appears in the largest district of Sonneberg.


  • Basic and standard care hospital: Regiomed-Kliniken Sonneberg / Neuhaus
  • Regiomed clinics: Ambulance station next to the hospital
  • Like the district of Sonneberg, Sonneberg is the only district town outside of Bavaria that belongs to the Erlangen NeuroRegioN - TelemedNordbayern health region


  • The city of Sonneberg is the venue for the international trade fair FAMOS (specialist and training fair for Upper Franconia and South Thuringia) run by the Business - Innovation - Region (WIR) association between Rennsteig and Main (2013: 3,800 visitors; 2014: 4,500 visitors; 2015: 5800 visitors).


Daughters and sons of the city

Albert Schmidt 1875

Other personalities

Moritz Hensoldt 1841


  • Christian Friedrich Kessler von Sprengseisen: Topography of the ducal-Saxon-Koburg-Meiningischen share of the Duchy of Koburg… Sonneberg 1781, p. 94-116 ( ).
  • Heinrich Christoph Hensoldt: Description of the city of Sonneberg, famous for its world trade, in the Duchy of Saxony-Meiningen, the same as the parish church built in it in the old German style by the architect Karl Heideloff in Nuremberg . Johann Adam Stein, Nuremberg 1845 ( )
  • Hermann Pistor : Old and new from Sonneberg and the Meininger Oberlande. Emil Oehrlein publishing house, Sonneberg 1902.
  • Johann Martin Steiner : Chronicle of the City of Sonneberg 1757-1802. (Editing: Heike Büttner, Nicki End, Hans Gauß, Waltraud Roß, Thomas Schwämmlein), Stadtarchiv Sonneberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-00-058293-6
  • Books of the homeland . Volume 1: History and stories around 650 years of Sonneberg . Publisher: Dyba-Werbung and J. Luthardt, Offizin Hildburghausen, Sonneberg 1998
  • 650 years of the city of Sonneberg. 1349-1999. Sonneberg, City of Sonneberg 1999.
  • Sonneberg as it used to be . Wartberg, Gudensbg. 2001.
  • Between Rennsteig and Sonneberg (= values ​​of our homeland . Volume 39). 1st edition. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1986.
  • August Topf: A daughter of Nuremberg . In: The Gazebo . Issue 45, 1865, pp. 712–715 ( full text [ Wikisource ] - about the Sonneberg industry).
  • Sonneberg . In: Matthäus Merian : Topographia Franconiae ( Wikisource )
  • Sonneberg near Brückner Landeskunde p. 421 ff.

Web links

Commons : Sonneberg  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Sonneberg  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Population of the municipalities from the Thuringian State Office for Statistics  ( help on this ).
  2. Frankenwald landscape profile. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, accessed on May 3, 2020 .
  3. General statutes of the city of Sonneberg from June 26, 2017 (PDF)
  4. De origine gentis Francorum compendium, 1514 - An abridged history of the Franks / Johannes Trithemius; AQ-Verlag , Dudweiler 1987; ISBN 978-3-922441-52-6 .
  5. a b Thomas Schwämmlein: Cella or monk cellar? To a sandstone cave in Sonneberg's old town. Home Care Newsletter 1/2010
  6. Erich Fhr. Von Guttenberg: The formation of territories on the Obermain. (Report of the Historisches Verein Bamberg. 79) Bamberg 1926, p. 437 f .; Walter Lorenz: Campus solis. History and property of the former Cistercian abbey of Sonnefeld near Coburg. (Writings of the Institute for Franconian State Research at the University of Erlangen. Historical series. 6) Kallmünz 1955; Thomas Schwämmlein: On the first mention of the name "Sonneberg". Source, tradition, historical context. In: Yearbook of the Hennebergisch-Franconian History Association. 22 (2007), pp. 43-59
  7. ^ Illustration by Sonneberg In: Matthäus Merian : opographia Franconiae. Frankfurt 1648.
  8. Wolfgang Huschke: Political history from 1552 to 1775. In: Hans Patze, Walter Schlesinger (Hrsg.): Geschichte Thüringens. Vol. 5: Political History in Modern Times. Volume 1. (Central German Research. 48) Cologne / Vienna 1985, pp. 1–614; Thomas Schwämmlein, Sonneberg District, p. 25.
  9. ^ Oskar Stillich : The toy house industry of the Meininger Oberland. Verlag Fischer, Jena 1899.
  10. ^ A b David D. Hamlin: Work and Play. The Production and Consumption of Toys in Germany, 1870-1914. University of Michigan 2007, p. 87.
  11. a b c d David D. Hamlin: Work and Play. The Production and Consumption of Toys in Germany, 1870-1914. University of Michigan 2007, p. 90.
  12. Heinz Schmidt-Bachem : From paper. A cultural and economic history of the paper processing industry in Germany. Berlin and Boston 2011, p. 103.
  13. Heinz Schmidt-Bachem : From paper. A cultural and economic history of the paper processing industry in Germany. Berlin and Boston 2011, p. 104.
  14. ^ A b c Franz Walter: From the milieu to the party state. Living worlds, leading figures and politics in historical change. Wiesbaden 2010, p. 60 ff.
  15. Heinz Schmidt-Bachem : From paper. A cultural and economic history of the paper processing industry in Germany. Berlin and Boston 2011, p. 105
  16. ^ Thomas Schwämmlein: Cultural monuments in Thuringia. Sonneberg district . E. Reinhold Verlag, Altenburg 2005, p. 393.
  17. ^ Walter Hans Jentzsch: The Thuringian labor market and its consequences. In: Thüringer Jahrbuch , 6th year 1931, p. 33 ff.
  18. Christine Schmidt van der Zanden: Sonneberg West . in: Geoffrey P. Megargee (Ed.): The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. Volume 1, Bloomington (Indiana) 2009, p. 420.
  19. Lucien Elkind: Caporal Dick . Paris 1997, p. 186 f.
  20. ^ Thomas Schwämmlein: Cultural monuments in Thuringia. Sonneberg district . E. Reinhold Verlag, Altenburg, p. 418.
  21. ^ Lothar Günther: Missions and Fates in the Air War over Southwest Thuringia 1944/45 . Wehry-Verlag, Untermaßfeld 2014, ISBN 978-3-9815307-6-6 , p. 324.
  22. Benno Prieß: The young people from Sonneberg / Thuringia and the neighboring communities. In: Benno Prieß (Ed.): Shot at dawn . (Co-editor: State Commissioner for the Documents of the State Security Service of the GDR) Self-published , Calw 2002, ISBN 3-926802-36-7 , pp. 122–126.
  23. ^ Klaus-Dieter Müller: Criminal enforcement and occupation policy. On the role and significance of the death sentences by Soviet military tribunals. In: Andreas Weigelt, Klaus-Dieter Müller, Thomas Schaarschmidt, Mike Schmeitzner (eds.): Death sentences of Soviet military tribunals against Germans (1944–1947). A historical-biographical study. Göttingen 2015, pp. 15–62, p. 18.
  24. ^ Klaus-Dieter Müller: Criminal enforcement and occupation policy. On the role and significance of the death sentences by Soviet military tribunals. In: Andreas Weigelt, Klaus-Dieter Müller, Thomas Schaarschmidt, Mike Schmeitzner (eds.): Death sentences of Soviet military tribunals against Germans (1944–1947). A historical-biographical study. Göttingen 2015, pp. 15–62, p. 18.
  25. ^ Andreas Weigelt: Short biographies. In: Andreas Weigelt, Klaus-Dieter Müller, Thomas Schaarschmidt, Mike Schmeitzner (eds.): Death sentences of Soviet military tribunals against Germans (1944–1947). A historical-biographical study. Göttingen 2015, p. 28, p. 569.
  26. ^ Andreas Weigelt: Short biographies. In: Andreas Weigelt, Klaus-Dieter Müller, Thomas Schaarschmidt, Mike Schmeitzner (eds.): Death sentences of Soviet military tribunals against Germans (1944–1947). A historical-biographical study. Göttingen 2015, p. 438.
  27. ^ Andreas Weigelt: Short biographies. In: Andreas Weigelt, Klaus-Dieter Müller, Thomas Schaarschmidt, Mike Schmeitzner (eds.): Death sentences of Soviet military tribunals against Germans (1944–1947). A historical-biographical study. Göttingen 2015, p. 598, p. 425, p. 172.
  28. ^ Andreas Weigelt: Short biographies. In: Andreas Weigelt, Klaus-Dieter Müller, Thomas Schaarschmidt, Mike Schmeitzner (eds.): Death sentences of Soviet military tribunals against Germans (1944–1947). A historical-biographical study. Göttingen 2015, p. 196, p. 732.
  29. Norbert Moczarski et al .: Thuringian State Archives Meiningen. Department of the Regional Economic Archive South Thuringia in Suhl . A brief inventory overview. Ed .: Thuringian State Archives Meiningen. 1st edition. Druckhaus Offizin Hildburghausen, 1994, Development of traditional industrial areas in South Thuringia until 1990, p. 16-24 .
  30. ^ Report of the SED district leadership of the Sonneberg district on incidents on the demarcation line to the SED Central Committee of May 15, 1952, in: Inge Bennewitz, Rainer Potratz: Zwangsaussiedlungen an der Innerdeutschen Grenz. Analyzes and documents. 4th edition, Berlin 2012, p. 250.
  31. a b c d e Inge Bennewitz, Rainer Potratz: Forced resettlement on the inner-German border. Analyzes and documents. 4th edition, Berlin 2012, p. 56.
  32. Inge Bennewitz, Rainer Potratz: Forced resettlements on the inner-German border. Analyzes and documents. 4th edition, Berlin 2012, p. 42 ff.
  33. Inge Bennewitz, Rainer Potratz: Forced resettlements on the inner-German border. Analyzes and documents. 4th edition, Berlin 2012, p. 53.
  34. Inge Bennewitz, Rainer Potratz: Forced resettlements on the inner-German border. Analyzes and documents. 4th edition, Berlin 2012, p. 131 ff.
  35. Inge Bennewitz, Rainer Potratz: Forced resettlements on the inner-German border. Analyzes and documents. 4th edition, Berlin 2012, p. 155.
  36. "Directly from Europe in German" (A 32 'and B 33'): Texts and explanations for no. 383 (Jan. 2013). (PDF) Retrieved October 6, 2014 .
  37. Nuremberg Metropolitan Region: Thuringia is participating. Bayerischer Rundfunk , May 23, 2014, archived from the original on May 1, 2015 ; accessed on May 3, 2020 .
  38. Local elections in Thuringia - election results 2019
  39. Local elections in Thuringia - election results 2014
  40. CDU candidate Voigt will be the new mayor of Sonneberg , accessed on August 21, 2016 at
  41. ^ Heike Büttner, Hilde Deubel, Heidi Losansky, Waltraut Roß, Thomas Schwämmlein: 650 years of the city of Sonneberg - 1349–1999 . Ed .: City of Sonneberg. Frankenschwelle KG / Druckhaus Offizin Hildburghausen GmbH, Sonneberg 1999, p. 183, 202 .
  42. ^ Thuringian State Office for Statistics
  43. ^ Ernst Hofmann : The little rider from Sonneberg. Landmarks and toys. Salier Verlag, Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-939611-79-0 .
  45. Eckart Roloff and Karin Henke-Wendt: Anatomy simply made of paper maché - and yet much more. (The Somso Museum in Sonneberg) In: Visit your doctor or pharmacist. A tour through Germany's Museum of Medicine and Pharmacy. Volume 2, Southern Germany. S. Hirzel Verlag, Stuttgart 2015, pp. 234–235. ISBN 978-3-7776-2511-9 .
  46. August Schleicher: Folksy from Sonneberg in the Meininger Oberlande . Commissioned by H. Böhlau, Weimar 1858.
  51. ^ Bayern-Ticket , Pro Bahn Passenger Association, Bavarian State Association
  52. Health Region Erlangen NeuroRegioN - TelemedNordbayern. ( Memento from November 27, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Bavarian State Ministry for Environment and Health.
  53. Germany Today