Hartberg is a town with 6795 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020) and is located in the federal state of Styria in the south-east of Austria. It is the administrative center of the Hartberg-Fürstenfeld district and is located in the Fürstenfeld judicial district.
The area around Hartberg was already settled in prehistoric
times, as evidenced by a Neolithic settlement on the nearby
Ringkogel. In the Hallstatt and Latène times there was a fortified
Celtic hilltop settlement on the Ringkogel. There are also traces of
settlement from Roman times, such as Villa Rustica; Remains of Roman
buildings from the second century were also found under the parish
church of Hartberg and the rectory.
Hartberg was planned and expanded by Margrave Leopold I von Steyr from 1125 to 1128. In 1286 the settlement was first mentioned as a city. The town remained in sovereign possession until 1529, before it was sold to the then governor Siegmund von Dietrichstein.
In 1469 the city was conquered by rebels under the imperial mercenary leader Andreas Baumkircher, and a few years later it was devastated by the soldiers of the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus. In 1532, Turkish troops passed the city, but destroyed the suburbs. In 1605 the Haiducken besieged Hartberg unsuccessfully; even then the suburbs were again sacked.
In 1715 the city burned down except for a few houses.
In 1944, during the time of National Socialism, a resistance group was formed in Hartberg around the Wehrmacht deserter Gustav Pfeiler, which hid in the mountains and was sometimes voluntarily supported by farmers in the area with food and accommodation. In March 1945 the approximately 40 members of the group became militarily active. So they were able to blow up three Fieseler Fi 156 planes and tried to arrest the Hartberg local group leader Erich Heumann. They shot members of his family and seriously wounded him. As a result, more and more people joined the group, on the other hand, the SS used more and more men to persecute the group and arrested numerous farmers in the area who were suspected of supporting the partisans. On May 4, 1945, after a stand trial in the city park, nine freedom fighters were shot and four others were hanged in the main square. When the Red Army approached on May 7, 1945, SS units took more sympathizers of the partisans with them on their retreat and shot them on the way. These executions or murders claimed a total of 27 lives.
In 1946, a memorial plaque for this group was placed on the Reckturm in the city park. A memorial stone in the cemetery bears the unspecific inscription “In memory of the victims of the last days of the war in 1945”. The graves of the resistance fighters were also adapted to those of the Wehrmacht soldiers.