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Württemberg 1810-1945

Württemberg was a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation , the Confederation of the Rhine , the German Confederation and the German Empire that had existed since the High Middle Ages and was incorporated into the newly formed state of Baden-Württemberg in 1952 . Its capital and residence city was Stuttgart . The state emerged from the domain of the House of Württemberg on the central Neckar in the 11th century . In addition to this core area, areas on the left bank of the Rhine in Alsace and around Montbéliard ( Württemberg-Mömpelgard ) belonged to Württemberg until 1793 .

Initially a county since the 12th century , the country was elevated to a duchy after 1495 - with the temporary residences of Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg - an electorate in 1803 and a kingdom in 1806 . As such, Württemberg was a sovereign state from the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 until the German Empire was founded in 1871. As a member state of the German Empire, Württemberg, like Bavaria , maintained special rights in the railways and postal services , which ended on March 30, 1920 due to provisions of the Weimar Constitution . The November Revolution of 1918 had led to the overthrow of the monarchy and the proclamation of the "Free People's State of Württemberg ".

From 1945 to 1952, Württemberg was divided by the allied occupation powers into the states of Württemberg-Hohenzollern with the capital Tübingen and Württemberg-Baden with the capital Stuttgart and the northern part of Baden . After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, it was united with Baden and the Hohenzollern Lands in the new state of Baden-Württemberg in 1952 . Although the terms "Swabia" and "Württemberg" are often used synonymously in colloquial terms, a considerable part of Württemberg does not belong to Swabia and a large part of Swabia does not belong to Württemberg.


Wirtemberg Castle as the cradle of the House of Württemberg around 1624; Engraving by Eberhard Kieser

The name "Württemberg", older Wirtenberg, is derived from the mountain Württemberg in Stuttgart-Rotenberg (district of Untertürkheim ). Its name, in turn, is probably of Celtic origin. Like the French city ​​of Verdun, it could be derived from the Celtic word * Virodunum ( * viro man and * dunun mountain). In the early Middle Ages, Verdun was called Wirten / Virten in German, and the ending "dun" can be seen in many city names: London, Kempten (Campodunum). The former ancestral castle Wirtemberg from the 11th century stood on Württemberg until 1819 , in the place of which a burial chapel for Queen Catherine of Württemberg was built in 1824 .

Until the middle of the 14th century, only the form Wirtenberg is found in documents . The change of the name to a form with ‹m› like Wirtemberg is based on the simplified pronunciation (the sounds / m / and / b / are formed in the same place in the mouth ).

According to Harald Schukraft, the spelling with ‹m› goes back to the connection between Württemberg and the French-speaking Mömpelgard ( Montbéliard ). In French, to this day, only an “m” can precede an “b”.

The spelling Württemberg became the official state name when Napoleon I raised it to the Kingdom of Württemberg .


The House of Württemberg first appeared in the second half of the 11th century. The first officially named representative is Konrad I in 1081 , who was probably also the builder of the ancestral castle .

The following table gives an overview of the historical development:

shape Period Explanation
Territory of the
Holy Roman Empire
from the 12th century
until 1806
County Wirtemberg , 1442-1482 divided into Stuttgarter line and Uracher line ,
from 1495 Duchy , from 1803 Electorate
German land, a
sovereign state until 1871,
then a member state of
the German Empire
1806 to 1918 Kingdom of Württemberg
1918 to 1933 People's State of Württemberg
1933 to 1945 Coordinated administrative unit (Land) of the German Reich,
(see Württemberg at the time of National Socialism )
After 1945 it became extinct as a country in the form that had been in effect until then 1945 to 1952 Part of the state of Württemberg-Hohenzollern ( F ) Part of the state of Württemberg-Baden ( USA )
since 1952 Part of the state of Baden-Württemberg

County until 1495

In the 12th century, the Wuerttemberg people received the count's office. With the end of the Hohenstaufen rule in Swabia around 1250, the prerequisites for the territorial expansion of what is now the county of Württemberg were created. With the marriage of Count Ulrich I to Mechthild von Baden in 1251, the future capital Stuttgart became part of Württemberg. Further enlargements of the rule were made under Count Ulrich III. (1325-1344). In the battle of Döffingen , which was victorious for Württemberg , Count Eberhard II was able to break the power of the Swabian League of Cities on August 23, 1388 . Outstanding during the reign of Count Eberhard III. (1392–1417) was the acquisition of the County of Mömpelgard through the marriage promise for the later Count Eberhard IV with Henriette von Mömpelgard on November 13, 1397.

On January 25, 1442, the Nürtingen Treaty between Ludwig I and his brother Ulrich V was signed. This split Württemberg into two parts. The Stuttgart part under Ulrich V included the cities of Cannstatt , Göppingen , Marbach , Neuffen , Nürtingen , Schorndorf and Waiblingen ; for Uracher part of Louis I. among the cities Balingen , Calw , Herrenberg , Münsingen , Tuttlingen and Tübingen . After the death of the mother of the two counts, Henriette von Mömpelgard, Mömpelgard was initially added to the Urach part of the country in 1444.

With the Münsinger Treaty of December 14, 1482 and the Essling Treaty of September 2, 1492, the Count of Württemberg-Urach and later Duke Eberhard im Bart succeeded in lifting the division of Württemberg again. The childless Eberhard became the sole ruler of the reunified country. The successor was to the incumbent Count of Württemberg-Stuttgart Eberhard VI. established, which should rule the country together with a committee of twelve made up of the so-called honesty , the representatives of the aristocratic and non-aristocratic classes in the country.

For more information on the family tree and the succession of the Württemberg rulers see below

Duchy from 1495 to 1806

Duke Eberhard's grave
in the beard in the Tübingen collegiate church
Map of Württemberg, 1559

Age of denominational tension until 1648

On July 21, 1495, Württemberg was elevated to a duchy by the Roman-German King Maximilian I at the Reichstag in Worms . However, the Habsburg emperor was not prepared to give up the option of the historic duchy of Swabia for his own house by conferring the traditional title of Duke of Swabia on Eberhard im Bart . Instead, the (smaller) Duchy of Württemberg came into being.

In the same year Eberhard im Bart gave the duchy its first state order. After his death in 1496 and the putsch of the Württemberg estates against Eberhard II carried out by the Honorable , the first half of the 16th century under Duke Ulrich was marked by crises and military conflicts that only came to an end under Duke Christoph . After tax increases, there were uprisings of the peasants (" Poor Konrad ") in 1514 , which Ulrich bloodily suppressed. In the same year the Treaty of Tübingen was signed , which is considered the most important constitutional document in Württemberg and which was to remain in force until 1806.

After Duke Ulrich raided the imperial city of Reutlingen in 1519 , he was expelled from Württemberg by the troops of the Swabian Federation under the leadership of his Bavarian brother-in-law, Duke Wilhelm IV . The country was placed under the governorship of the Habsburgs by Emperor Charles V , so that Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the later Roman-German king, initially also became the sovereign of Württemberg. It was not until 1534 that Ulrich succeeded in recapturing his land with the help of the Hessian Landgrave Philipp I , who went to the field against the Austrian governor Philipp von Pfalz-Neuburg and was victorious in the battle of Lauffen . Nevertheless, after the Treaty of Kaaden , Ulrich remained dependent on the Habsburgs. After his return from exile, Ulrich introduced the Reformation in Württemberg in 1534 . The reformers Ambrosius Blarer , Johannes Brenz and Erhard Schnepf were at his side. Initially, the Württemberg Reformation was an attempt to mediate between the Zwinglian and Lutheran orientations . With Blarer's dismissal in 1538, however, the way was clear for a purely Lutheran prince reformation, which went hand in hand with the secularization of church property.

Duke Christoph continued building of state structures continued consistently, already under Eberhard I started. Many regulations and laws were drawn up under his reign. Outstanding are the Great Church Ordinance of 1559, which codified and expanded all previous state and church regulations . After Christoph's son, Duke Ludwig, died childless in 1593, rule passed to Friedrich I of the Mömpelgard line . His policy was aimed at reducing the privileges of respectability and strengthening the nobility. This and his mercantilist economic policy clearly identify Friedrich as a representative of early absolutism . Many buildings in the Renaissance style were built under his master builder Heinrich Schickhardt .

The border line of Württemberg at the beginning of the Thirty Years War on a map by the Amsterdam cartographer Pieter van den Keere

In the Thirty Years' War from 1618 to 1648, Württemberg was one of the regions most affected by war (see also Naval Warfare on Lake Constance 1632–1648 ). From 1628 the country was more or less permanently under the control of foreign troops. Due to the edict of restitution by Emperor Ferdinand II , Württemberg lost about a third of its territory. After the Battle of Nördlingen in 1634, in which the Württemberg army fought on the side of the defeated Swedes, the country was looted and pillaged. Duke Eberhard III. fled into exile in Strasbourg . In the period that followed, poverty, hunger and the plague epidemic in 1637 significantly depopulated the country . Originally in 1618, Württemberg had a population of 350,000; in 1648, after heavy war losses, the plague and rural exodus, Württemberg only housed around 120,000 inhabitants.

Age of Absolutism

With the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, in which the Württemberg ambassador Johann Konrad Varnbuler negotiated the territorial restoration of the country within its old borders, the reconstruction and restoration of the economic and administrative structures of the country began. These were strongly based on the conditions of the pre-war period, but again strengthened the position of respectability. At the end of the 17th century, Württemberg was drawn into the armed conflicts between the German Empire and France , the Palatinate War of Succession , the Fifth War of the Austrian Turks and the War of Spanish Succession . In the west of the country there was greater devastation by the marauding troops of the French general Ezéchiel de Mélac (for example in 1692 when the Hirsau castle and monastery were destroyed ).

→ Main article for the period from 1693 to 1733: Eberhard Ludwig

The reign of Duke Eberhard Ludwig, whose father died only nine months after his birth, was a stark contrast and at the same time a breeding ground for the developing pietism in Württemberg . This included, above all, the magnificent construction of the Ludwigsburg Palace from 1704, where Eberhard Ludwig settled down with his influential long-time mistress Wilhelmine von Grävenitz , while his wife stayed in Stuttgart. The settlement of the Waldensians, who were expelled from France in 1700, and the relocation of the capital in 1724 to Ludwigsburg, which was often satirically referred to as "Lumpenburg" at the time, was also a provocation of the ruling circles and moral ideas .

Eberhard Ludwig's successor, whose only son and grandson had died before him, was Karl Alexander from the Württemberg-Winnental sidelines, who converted to the Catholic Church in 1733 . Karl Alexander, who entered the imperial military service at the age of twelve and was appointed field marshal at the age of 33 , had very high financial needs due to his military engagements and his lavish courtly style, which continued after he took office, and therefore made the Jews Joseph Süß Oppenheimer as his financial advisor with extensive decision-making powers in the country's economic and financial policy . After the unexpected death of Karl Alexander on March 12, 1737, Oppenheimer, who had been defamed as "Jud Süss", was arrested on the same day. The subsequent trial against him, in which the pent-up envy and hatred of the Protestant Württemberg upper class against Oppenheimer and the Catholic duke discharged, ended with his execution on February 4, 1738 and had strong anti-Semitic features.

When Karl Alexander died, his son and successor, Duke Carl Eugen, was only nine years old. He grew up in Brussels and was educated at the court of Frederick the Great in Potsdam and Berlin from 1741 until he actually took office in 1744 . From his inauguration in 1744 to around 1770, Carl Eugen was a despotic ruler who was strongly absolutist and who did not tolerate freedom of expression and opposition . The tyrannical nature of his government at this time was also reflected in the early works of Friedrich Schiller , who was born in Marbach in 1759 . Politically, Carl Eugen joined Habsburg Austria against Prussia in the Seven Years' War . The foreign policy defeat at the end of the war in 1763 and the associated domestic political resurgence in respectability, as well as the state finances shattered by his splendid government style, forced Carl Eugen to rethink. On his 50th birthday in 1778, he himself proclaimed a new beginning and conversion. Disarmament of the army, foreign policy restraint and the reduction of state spending on the one hand, and the promotion of education and culture on the other, were the cornerstones of the second part of his government until his death in 1793. The people wrote this turning point in their morganatic marriage, who are still revered in the country to this day second wife Franziska von Hohenheim married to him.

After his death, his two brothers Ludwig Eugen and Friedrich Eugen ruled the country for two years each, before the reign passed to the later King Friedrich .

Napoleonic Wars

At the end of the 18th century, Württemberg was facing major territorial changes. In the Paris Treaty of May 20, 1802, the possessions on the left bank of the Rhine, Mömpelgard and Reichenweier, annexed by revolutionary France in 1793, were finally given over to France. At the same time, however, area extensions were assured, which were implemented in 1803 and 1806 after the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss and the subsequent mediatization and secularization . Numerous small lordships were dissolved, many of which were incorporated into the newly formed state as Neuwuerttemberg . Duke Friedrich ruled the Duchy of Württemberg , which was elevated to the status of an electorate and is now also called Old Württemberg, and the new state of Neuwürttemberg in personal union .

Kingdom of Württemberg from 1806 to 1918

Development of Württemberg 1789–1810
The Württemberg royal crown
Württemberg boundary stone on the Fohrenbühl near Lauterbach (Black Forest)

With effect from January 1, 1806, Württemberg was elevated to a kingdom and in July 1806 a member of the Rhine Confederation . The first King Friedrich allied himself with Napoleon from 1805 . His loyalty to the alliance ensured him extensive freedom of action in domestic politics, the aim of which was the consistent modernization of the state and the abolition of the privileges of respectability in Old Württemberg and the nobles in the newly acquired territories. Württemberg participated in the war against Russia in 1812/13 , from which only a few hundred of 15,800 Württemberg soldiers returned. After the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig , Württemberg moved to the Allied camp . The expansion of the country's territory was confirmed under international law by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the kingdom became a member of the German Confederation .

When his son King Wilhelm I took office on October 30, 1816, there was a change in policy. Wilhelm issued an amnesty , lowered taxes and, in 1819, implemented a comprehensive administrative reform based on a new, modern constitution . Together with his wife Queen Katharina , a daughter of the Russian Tsar Paul I , the policy of the first few years was strongly oriented towards alleviating the economic hardship of broad sections of the population. Katharina, who died on January 9, 1819 at the age of only 30, devoted herself to social welfare with great commitment. The founding of the Katharinenstift as a girls' school, the Katharinenhospital , the Württembergische Landessparkasse , the University of Hohenheim and other institutions go back to her. On the basis of the constitution of 1819 and local self- government, a bourgeois liberalism developed in Württemberg. In terms of foreign policy, Wilhelm pursued the goal of further streamlining the state structures in Germany and limiting them to six states. The means to this never achieved goal was a strong connection with Russia . The heir to the throne Karl consequently married the Tsar's daughter Olga on July 13, 1846 .

However, Karl, who took office in 1864, was an advocate of the formation of a German nation-state, which was realized in 1871 with the establishment of the German Empire . However, Württemberg secured (until 1920) as so-called reservation rights, the taxation of beer and spirits according to state law as well as the administration of the railway, postal, telegraph and military systems by the state. The loss of political power in the state and the ruling house that went hand in hand with the founding of the empire was compensated for by a strong focus on Württemberg identity. As a result, Württemberg was more democratically organized than Prussia and other German federal states during the monarchy . Even after his abdication on November 9, 1918, the last King of Württemberg, Wilhelm II, was very respected among the population.

People's State of Württemberg from 1918 to 1933

After the First World War and after King Wilhelm II resigned from office, the People's State of Württemberg was proclaimed on November 9, 1918. The head of the provisional government was the social democrat Wilhelm Blos . The new constitution was passed on April 26, 1919; the center , the SPD , the DDP (which in Württemberg was in the tradition of the former People's Party ) and the bourgeois regional parties emerged as the strongest parliamentary groups. Until the National Socialists came to power in 1933, the country was ruled by civil coalitions. The SPD remained in the opposition; Kurt Schumacher was the opposition leader from 1924 . In all elections to the Reichstag , the results of the NSDAP were well below the overall results in the Reich.

Württemberg under the dictatorship of National Socialism 1933–1945

After the National Socialists came to power on January 30, 1933, the Reich government appointed Dietrich von Jagow as Reich Commissioner for the Württemberg police on March 8 . As a result, many members of the opposition were arrested and taken to the Heuberg concentration camp. On March 15th, the Gauleiter of the NSDAP Wilhelm Murr was elected President. The Enabling Act of March 24th and the “Act to bring the Länder into line with the Reich” of March 31st led to the factual insignificance of the Länder. Württemberg was combined with the Hohenzollern Lands in a "NSDAP- Gau Württemberg-Hohenzollern ". The planned conversion into a " Reichsgau " never took place.

As in the rest of the empire, Jews were persecuted and exterminated, the opposition was eliminated, the administration was brought into line and the administration emigrated. Resistance fighters from Württemberg were, for example, Georg Elser , the siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl , the brothers Berthold and Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg , Fritz Elsas , Lilo Herrmann , the former President Eugen Bolz and Hermann Medinger .

In the bombing war of the Second World War from 1944, the Württemberg villages and towns also suffered from the increased bombing. Important city centers were completely or partially destroyed and lost the building heritage that had grown over the centuries. Among the larger cities, the air raids on Stuttgart , Heilbronn , Ulm and Friedrichshafen were particularly serious, and only a few (such as Tübingen) were largely spared.

Württemberg in the post-war period from 1945 to 1952

After 1945, the two states of Baden and Württemberg were divided between the American occupation zone in the north and the French zone in the south. From then on, Württemberg was divided into two states, Württemberg-Baden in the north and Württemberg-Hohenzollern in the south. In 1949 the new states became federal states of the young Federal Republic of Germany . In 1952 the two states merged with (southern) Baden in the new federal state of Baden-Württemberg .

See also

On individual topics

A numerical example of the development of the population in Württemberg: In 1849 the population of the state comprised over 1.7 million people, in 1925 it was more than 2.5 million.


Web links

Wiktionary: Württemberg  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Württemberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Württemberg  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Detailed description in Michel Briefmarkenkatalog Deutschland 2012/13, p. 102.
  2. Harald Schukraft: Brief history of the House of Württemberg . Tübingen 2006, ISBN 978-3-87407-725-5 , p. 38.
  3. Detailed description in Michel Briefmarkenkatalog Deutschland 2012/13, p. 102.
  4. Map and epithet "War Damage in Baden-Württemberg 1939-1945" of the Historical Atlas of Baden-Württemberg, edited by Heinz Bardua, Stuttgart 1975. Map and epithet are digitized and can be accessed online at https://www.leo-bw.de / web / guest / themes / historical-atlas-of-baden-wurttemberg / political-history-19th-and-20th-centuries , No. VII.11.