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Landau in der Pfalz (Landaach in the southern Palatinate dialect) is an independent city with 46,881 inhabitants (December 31, 2019) in southern Rhineland-Palatinate and part of the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region. The former Alsatian imperial city is the administrative seat of the district of Südliche Weinstrasse, to which it does not belong. In terms of population, Landau is the sixth largest city in the Palatinate. In terms of area, Landau is even the third largest city in the region after Kaiserslautern and Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. The city is a middle center with partial function of a regional center. The next big cities are Karlsruhe, Ludwigshafen am Rhein and Mannheim.
Landau was founded around 1260 by Count Emich IV von Leiningen-Landeck. He had a fortification built in front of the plain as additional protection for his Landeck Castle. In 1274, Landau received city rights from King Rudolf I of Habsburg. The king granted Landau the status of an imperial city in 1291. In 1324 Landau was pledged to the Bishop of Speyer Emich von Leiningen. It was only triggered again in 1511 by Emperor Maximilian I and placed under the Bailiwick of Hagenau. In 1521 Landau joined the Dekapolis, the Alsatian League of Ten Cities. Mayor Hans Hitschler signed the Lutheran Agreement of 1577 for the city council in 1579.
Early modern age
As a result of the Peace of Westphalia, large parts of Alsace came to France in 1648. Landau and the other cities of Alsace remained formally German, but were abandoned by the empire. The Decapolis was too weak to assert itself against the Sun King Louis XIV. From 1680, Landau belonged to France like the whole of Alsace. It was expanded into a fortress by Vauban from 1688 to 1691. Most of the medieval city was burned down. Assumptions that the fire was started by order of the French fortress builder could never be proven. In the new building, straight streets, right-angled building squares and the market square were created. With the construction of the fortress, the lives of the residents changed. Entrance into the city was only possible through the city gates and was no longer possible after sunset.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the French fortress of Landau changed hands several times after extensive sieges. In 1702 the Imperial troops replaced the French, in 1703 the French won Landau back after the Battle of the Speyerbach, in 1704 Landau became imperial again. From March 12, 1709, Karl Alexander von Württemberg was in command of the fortress. In 1713 the city was besieged by Marshal Jacques Bazin de Bezons (1646–1733) from June 6, 1713, and the French regained the fortress on August 20, 1713. In the Peace of Rastatt in 1714, the reversal of Landau to France was the most important gain for Louis XIV.
As in the rest of France, the French Revolution ruled Landau from July 20, 1789. Like the Lower Alsace, the city belonged to the Bas-Rhin department from March 4, 1790. Even in 1814, after the first victory in the War of Liberation over Napoléon Bonaparte, Landau initially remained French. Due to the agreements in the Second Paris Peace of November 1815, the area north of the Lauter, and thus Landau, initially came under the sovereignty of Austria. Landau was now a federal fortress. As early as June 1815, at the Congress of Vienna, Austria had been awarded the remaining Palatinate, which had previously belonged to the Département du Mont-Tonnerre (Donnersberg Department). In April 1816, the entire Palatinate was finally ceded by Austria to the Kingdom of Bavaria in a state treaty.
Development since 1871
After the war in 1871, Landau was no longer a border town, as the western border of the German Empire had shifted significantly to the west as a result of the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. The fortress was razed and new streets were built. With the Reich Law on Equal Opportunities for Jewish Citizens in 1871, Jewish families moved in. Landau became the center of the Palatinate wine trade and was soon considered to be the wealthiest city in the Palatinate. This can still be seen today in the architecture, which is comparatively magnificent for a small town. Representative town houses were built along the newly created Ringstrasse and its side streets. The predominant building material was sandstone.
Landau relied less on the development of an industry than on the Bavarian military. Extensive barracks were built for the 5th and 12th field artillery regiments and the 18th and 23rd infantry regiments.
During World War II, Landau was targeted 35 times by Allied, particularly American, air raids. The heaviest took place on "Black Friday", March 16, 1945. A total of 1,045 tons of bombs were thrown on Landau, 40% of the city was destroyed and 586 people fell victim to the air war.
After the First and Second World War, Landau was again a French
garrison town, as part of the occupation of the Rhineland until 1930
and as part of the French-occupied zone after 1945. After the
Federal Republic of Germany had become sovereign after the Paris
Treaties came into force on May 5, 1955 the stationing is regulated
by the NATO troop statute.
On April 1, 1937, the previously independent communities of Mörlheim and Queichheim were incorporated. The city became part of the French occupation zone after World War II. The establishment of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate was ordered on August 30, 1946 as the last state in the western occupation zones by decree No. 57 of the French military government under General Marie-Pierre Kœnig. It was initially referred to as the “Rhineland-Palatinate Land” or “Land Rheinpfalz”; the name Rhineland-Palatinate was only established with the constitution of May 18, 1947.
In 1949 the city of Landau organized the Southwest German Garden Show (SÜWEGA) as the first garden show with a supraregional effect in post-war Germany, to which an art show was also attached. The Federal Garden Show later developed from this.
In the course of the first administrative reform in Rhineland-Palatinate, the communities of Arzheim, Dammheim, Nussdorf, Godramstein, Mörzheim and Wollmesheim were incorporated on April 22, 1972, giving Landau its current size. As early as June 7, 1969, part of the community of Nussdorf with 387 inhabitants was reunified to Landau. In 1990, the Rhineland-Palatinate University of Education, which was partly located in Landau, was converted into a university. Since then, Landau has been one of the smallest university towns in Germany. In 1999 the last French soldiers withdrew from Landau.
In the years 1997 to 1999 France released the majority of its 34 military properties; Thus, the city of Landau obtained planning sovereignty for 100 hectares of built-up and 231 hectares of undeveloped areas. Three barracks and 15 properties with around 860 residential units were vacated.