Leipzig, city in Saxony at the confluence of the Parthe, Pleiße and Weißer Elster rivers, with (2019) 593 100 residents.
Seat of a university, several colleges and museums. As the location of the German National Library and the spring book fair, Leipzig continues its tradition as a book city. Leipzig also became world famous for its musical tradition and cultivation (Johann Sebastian Bach, St. Thomas’ Choir, Gewandhaus Orchestra).
The city’s central location in Central Europe enabled it to develop into a transport hub (Leipzig / Halle airport) and an important trade fair location (since 1500). The most important branches of industry are logistics, information technology, the energy industry and the automotive industry.
In the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig (October 16-19, 1813) Napoleon I was defeated by the allied Prussians, Austrians, Swedes, British and Russians.
The “Monday demonstrations” in Leipzig in 1989/90 gave decisive impulses for the revolutionary changes in the GDR and the unification of the two German states.
One since the 7th / 8th The Slavic settlement that existed in the 19th century became the urban nucleus of Leipzig, which is mentioned in 1015 as a fortified place and in 1050 as a castle seat in the Osterland (urbs Libzi, probably “Lindenort”). The German castle complex (10th century; first mentioned in 1017) was at the intersection of important trade routes. The first German merchants’ and craftsmen’s settlement grew up in their vicinity. Another merchant settlement was built before 1150 around today’s Nikolaikirche. Around 1165, the localities were given city rights by Margrave Otto the Rich of Meißenand were fortified with a common wall before 1200. In 1485 Leipzig came to the Albertines. The markets (from around 1165; since 1458/66 on New Year’s Day, Easter and Michaelmas Day) were the forerunners of the fairs established by imperial privilege in 1497 and 1507.
On December 2, 1409, the Universitas Lipsiensis was founded and opened by teachers and students who had left the University of Prague because of the emerging Czech nationalism. Duke George the Bearded of Saxony had the Leipzig disputation held in 1519. Through the university (renewed in a humanistic spirit by Duke Moritz von Sachsen in 1544) and the Reformation (introduced in 1539, since then the theological faculty has been Lutheran), the printing and book trade established in Leipzig. During the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), the city suffered hardly any setbacks. It outstripped Nuremberg and Frankfurt am Main as a trading center. French religious refugees gave new impetus to economic life at the end of the 17th century.
By the middle of the 18th century, art and cultural life achieved European significance: from 1723–50 J. S. Bach worked as cantor at the St. Thomas Church, Caroline Neuber initiated a reform of the German theater; Goethe, who attended Leipzig University from 1765–68, experienced the city as an intellectual center of Germany.
Leipzig suffered badly in the Napoleonic Wars (1813–14 Russian city command); the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig from October 16 to 19, 1813 decided the autumn campaign of 1813 of the Wars of Liberation.
With the connection to the German Customs Union in 1833, the negative effects of the peripheral location since the Saxon assignment of territory in 1815 were overcome. In addition to book printing, the book trade (including the establishment of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels in 1825; Brockhaus, Reclam, Teubner, Seemann publishers, Edition Peters) and music trade, the tobacco trade flourished. Leipzig, a center of the revolutionary bourgeois movement in 1830 and also in 1848, played a leading role in the emergence of the workers ‘movement: 1863 founding of the General German Workers’ Association (ADAV); Residence of A. Bebel and W. Liebknecht. After the industrial development that began in the first half of the 19th century (first German long-distance railway Leipzig – Dresden in 1839), important branches of manufacturing emerged in Leipzig (especially graphic and textile companies).
The population grew rapidly (1800: 32,000, 1870: 102,000, 1895: 400,000 residents). The peak of 717,000 residents was reached in 1931. Since 1850 about 40 suburbs and manors have been incorporated. During the Second World War, the city suffered severe damage (especially December 4, 1943). 1952–90 Leipzig was the capital of the GDR district of the same name. Thanks to a clever settlement and economic policy (subsidies), Leipzig became a new center of Saxon vehicle construction after 1990.
At the University of Leipzig (until 1830 a corporation organized according to nationalities; from 1843 without its own jurisdiction) taught among others. C. F. Gellert, J. C. Gottsched, W. Wundt, W. K. Heisenberg and (until 1957) E. Bloch.
The formation of informal groups in the 1980s and the Monday prayers for peace in the Nikolaikirche (since the end of 1981) made Leipzig one of the focal points of the citizens’ movement in the GDR. The Monday demonstrations following the peace prayers (September 1989 to March 1990; especially on October 9, 1989, peaceful revolution) achieved a GDR-wide effect in October 1989 through their pioneering role in the progress of the peaceful revolution and contributed to the overthrow of the SED Regimes 1989 and the establishment of German unity in 1990.