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Nordhausen (also Nordhausen am Harz; Nordhusen in northern Thuringia) is a town in the Nordhausen district (Thuringia) and a former imperial city. As a university location and as a cultural and industrial center in Northern Thuringia, the district town has the status of a medium-sized center with partial functions of a regional center. The seventh largest city in Thuringia by population is located on the southern edge of the Harz Mountains in the north-west of the Golden Aue. The Zorge flows through the urban area.

Nordhausen, first mentioned in 876, was named in 929 as Nordhuse in a deed of donation from Henry I to his wife Queen Mathilde, who set up a women's monastery here in 961. From 1220, Nordhausen was one of two free imperial cities in Thuringia, alongside Mühlhausen, until it fell to Prussia in 1802 as a result of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss. In addition, it belonged to the Thuringian tri-city federation with today's state capital Erfurt and Mühlhausen. The Nordhausen Roland as the town's landmark symbolized the freedom of the empire. In the 15th century the city was a member of the Hanseatic League. From 1937 to 1945 the V2 weapon was produced underground in the Mittelwerk Dora armaments center and from 1943 in the Mittelbau concentration camp. At the beginning of April 1945, three-quarters of the city, dominated by half-timbered houses, was destroyed by two air raids by the Royal Air Force; over 8,800 people died and tens of thousands were left homeless.

The Nordhausen townscape is characterized by many hills, green spaces, loose urban development with post-war buildings, various monuments and churches. The most important building is the Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Parts of the city were modernized on the occasion of the State Garden Show 2004. The city is known nationwide for its spirits production, especially the Nordhäuser Doppelkorn. The Nordhausen train station links the Harzquerbahn at the beginning of the south-north axis of the Harz narrow-gauge railways with the west-east axis of the Kassel – Halle railway line and on site with the Nordhausen tram.



name of the city
Early documented name forms are Nordhusa (876), Nordhuse (929), Northusun (965, 1075, 1105), Northuson (993, 1042, 1105), Nordhusen (from the 12th century) and Northusia (1200, Latinized). Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the Northusen spelling predominated in chronicles and statutes, from 1480 the sounding Northausen and later Nordhausen with early New High German diphthongization is attested. According to Germanistic name research, there is a formation from “Nord” and “-hausen” (originally a dative plural, ie “at the houses”); the meaning of the place name is therefore "in the northward settlement". The name-related counterpart is the village of Sundhausen, which was founded around the same time in the immediate vicinity of Nordhausen and whose name means "at the settlement located southwards" (sunt is Middle High German for south). The inhabitants of the city are correctly called "Nordhäuser" (in the dialect "Nordhisser"). Because of its centuries-old tradition of making spirits, Nordhausen also bears the local names “Branntwienpisser” and “Schnapshausen”. Another nickname is "Priemköppe" because of the former chewing tobacco production.

Prehistoric and early historical settlement
Early settlements in the region were known as early as the 19th century through "excavations", albeit with unsuitable means and with inadequate documentation, such as at the burial mound necropolis of Auleben (Solberg). One of the few graves in Thuringia from the late Neolithic, probably the bell-cup culture, was found near Windehausen, southeast of Nordhausen. There was a three-quarter circle ditch about 12 m in diameter. About 300 m away there is a late Bronze Age settlement, the grave there possibly represents the founding burial of this settlement. The warrior grave with numerous additions shows influences from the Middle Lüneburg Bronze Age and can be assigned to the early (West Central German) Late Bronze Age. Other end-Neolithic and Bronze Age graves are known in the area, which prove that in the late Middle and early Late Bronze Age the custom was widespread to dig graves in the eastern part of circular trenches. The Early Bronze Age site of Nohra has been known for a long time.

The Nordhausen area was subject to both Celtic and Germanic influences, with the archaeologically recognizable elements being mixed and locally transformed. Accordingly, it is a mixed zone with numerous (Celtic) Latène culture elements, such as turntable ceramics or glass arm rings. At the same time, numerous elements of the Polish Przeworsk culture that do not occur further south were found in the Nordhausen district, plus a total of seven settlements of this culture in the Nordhausen area. These may go back to immigrants from Silesia who came to the southern Harz as specialists. A hierarchy can be demonstrated in the settlements, namely into the three types of hilltop castle, which are perceived as central locations, i.e. as economic, social and cultic focal points, then larger settlements, which functioned as exchange locations and specialized production, and finally smaller, open ones Settlements. After the 1st century this settlement structure disappeared, probably due to migration processes.

The area around Nordhausen belonged to the short-lived Thuringian Empire in the late 5th century and became Franconian by conquest around 531. Between 650 and 700 Sorbian groups settle in the Bielen district. Slavic places are also proven. After the former Nordhausen city archivist and museum director Robert Hermann Walther Müller, the settlement of the West Slavic groups, then known as Surbi, began in 640 as a result of a peace and friendship treaty between the Slav King Samo and the Thuringian Duke Radulf. First, the areas west of the Saale were settled by Sorbian colonists. Müller relies in particular on the research by Christoph Albrecht on The Slavs in Thuringia. A current analysis of the Hersfeld Tithing Directory by Christian Zschieschang shows a significant Sorbian settlement in Friesenfeld and Hassegau. A comparable current study on the Sorbian settlement west of Kieselhausen and Sangerhausen is currently not available, although Robert Hermann Walther Müller warned it at the time.


According to Robert Hermann Walther Müller, Bielen is clearly of Slavic origin in addition to Windisehen spreads. In accordance with the state of research at the time, he sees the villages of Sittendorf, Rosperwenda, Windehausen and Steinbrücken as Slavic places, the latter having meanwhile also been incorporated into Nordhausen. There are also the desert areas of Alt-Wenden, Nausitz, Lindeschu, Tütchewenden and Ascherwenden. He mentions Nenzelsrode and Petersdorf as other Slavic towns, whereby Petersdorf is now part of the city of Nordhausen. Rudolf Virchow discovered the remains of a fishing settlement near Berga in 1872. The villages of Görsbach, Sülzhayn, Branderode, Buchholz and Leimbach can be recognized by Wendish impact, whereby the last two have meanwhile also been incorporated into Nordhausen. In Branderode there is even evidence of a windy door in the church, as well as in Kleinfurra and Trebra. Field names of Sorbian origin can be found in Kraja, Thalwend, Worbis, "Wyndischen Luttera", between Petersdorf and Steigerthal and near Stempeda, the latter two now also belonging to Nordhausen. In the city of Nordhausen itself, he traces the Grimmei street and the Grimm mill (later the Kaisermühle) to Sorbian origins. Also in the Zorgedorf Krimderode, today also in Nordhausen, there was a Grimme brook, which has now dried up, with the same Sorbian name: 'on the sand; on the Kiese '(cf. Upper Sorbian křemjeń, "[river] pebbles"). Robert Hermann Walther Müller even traces the name for the Zorge and the Mühlgraben back to Sorbian. For him, the Nordhausen linden legend also has its origins in the Sorbian colonization, as the linden tree is the symbol tree of this people.

Middle age
In the absence of written sources and few archaeological findings, the development of the place and city is not certain. It is believed that a Carolingian royal palace was built on the "Frauenberg" at the end of the 8th century. The old town later developed north of it. Nordhusa is already mentioned in a diploma from Ludwig the German dated May 18, 876. Heinrich I built the first fortified complex between 908 and 912. According to the younger Vita Mathildis, the son of Heinrich I and Mathilde, Heinrich, was born here around 921. On September 16, 929, Heinrich I gave Nordhuse to his wife Mathilde in a deed of donation. On June 25, 934, Heinrich I issued a certificate during a stay in Nordhausen. Mathilde founded a women's monastery in 961, in which she institutionalized a number of other sacred institutions such as the canons 'convent in Quedlinburg, in addition to the castle built by Heinrich I, which was converted into an Augustinian canons' monastery in 1220. In the vicinity of these institutions, the castle and the monastery, craftsmen and tradespeople subsequently settled around the Blasius Church. In the week after Whitsun 993 Otto III kept himself. in Nordhausen and issued two certificates there. When the Frauenstift was founded by Otto III in 1000. received a Romanesque grand cross (which has been kept in Duderstadt since 1675), the Cathedral of the Holy Cross developed into the spiritual center of the monastery. The second version of Queen Mathilde's biography was probably written in the women's monastery in Nordhausen, where Richburga was appointed first abbess in the winter of 967. Mathilde tried again and again to the place. After Mathilde's death in 968, their property fell under the control of the emperor again. In the marriage certificate of Empress Theophanu, Otto I and Otto II handed over Nordhausen in 972 as one of several assignments of the dowry to the wife Theophanu. A merchant settlement around the Nikolaikirche from the early 12th century developed into the actual city. This was extended by a Flemish cloth weaver settlement built on the other side of the city wall at the end of the 12th century to include the Petrikirche, in the 13th century by a new town that remained outside the wall around the Jakobikirche.

Nordhausen was in the medieval county of Helmegau, which was mentioned in a document of Charlemagne in 802.


From 1144 to 1225, German kings stayed in Nordhausen several times. In 1158, Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa donated all imperial possessions in Nordhausen to the cathedral monastery, which gained considerable influence as a result. In 1180 the city was destroyed by the troops of Henry the Lion because of a rift between Henry and the Emperor. During the subsequent reconstruction, the city fortifications were reinforced around 1206 in order to be able to stand up to the counts and knights of the surrounding area. They felt that their rights were restricted by the city and feuded them several times. On July 22nd, 1212, Emperor Otto IV, son of Henry the Lion, married Beatrix of Swabia from the Staufer family in Nordhausen, which brought about a reconciliation between the two rulers. As early as 1234, a major fire destroyed large parts of the city.

Imperial city
On July 27, 1220, Nordhausen was raised to the status of a free imperial city by King and later Emperor Friedrich II, which remained until it was mediatized in 1802. The city received its first seal in 1225, a council was formed for the first time around 1260 and the first town hall was built at the current location around 1280. At the end of the 13th century, the council prevailed against the Vogt and Schultheiß, who had already been occupied around 1220: in 1277 there was a revolt of the craftsmen and petty bourgeoisie against the imperial knights. The Reichsvogt was expelled and the Reichsburg destroyed. In 1290 the Roman-German King Rudolf von Habsburg confirmed the imperial freedom of Nordhausen and placed the city under his protection in order to be reconciled with the citizens. Due to its favorable economic and geographical location, Nordhausen probably enjoyed considerable wealth in the 13th century.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Counts of Schwarzburg, von Stolberg, von Hohnstein and the knights of Klettenberg Castle attacked Nordhausen several times. When knights of the Counts of Hohnstein zu Sondershausen, the Counts of Stolberg and Klettenberg Castle tried - ultimately unsuccessfully - to penetrate the city through the Barfüßertor and the Altentor in 1329, the mayor of Nordhausen, Helwig von Harzungen and three citizens, fell Defending goals. In another uprising on February 14, 1375, the council was overthrown and its members banished. The city received a new constitution and the artisans took power. During this time, some orders settled in Nordhausen, for example Augustinians, Dominicans and Franciscans. The neighboring monasteries in Walkenried and Ilfeld also founded monastery courtyards in the city. As early as the 14th century, the imperial city of Nordhausen required its citizens' sons who wanted to join one of these orders to renounce their inheritance in writing in order to prevent the church's tax-free property (“dead hand”) from increasing.

The highest warlord of the free imperial city of Nordhausen was originally the imperial bailiff, later the council, who appointed two warlords (so-called arrow masters) from his ranks. The city army consisted of the well-fortified citizenry (statutes 1350) and recruited mercenaries (city unification 1308). Once upon a time, the Arrow Masters were also city governors. From 1350 chivalric captains were taken into city service. The citizenship was divided into rotten based on the parish and parish division (arrow master list 1443-1545). So there were 21 squads with two foremen each, the squad strength fluctuated (1491-1499) from 17 to 48 men. In 1499 there were 577 citizens capable of arms. Since the beginning of the 17th century there were city soldiers under one captain, who in 1794 numbered around 70 men. The vigilante group consists of two companies.

Proof that Nordhausen was active as part of the Hanseatic League dates back to 1430. In 1500 Nordhausen became part of the Lower Saxony Empire. At the end of the Middle Ages, Saxony was the protective power over the city. Probably after 1277 a wall was built that covered an area of ​​35 hectares. This walling was renewed between 1350 and 1450. In 1365 the settlements were also legally united. Around 1500 the city had about 5000 inhabitants.

Early modern age
In 1507 the production of brandy in the city was first mentioned in a document. At peak times there were 100 distilleries in town. Chewing tobacco was also produced in Nordhausen. Vitriol oil was also produced in the 16th century; after the first production site in Nordhausen, the product was called "Nordhäuser Vitriol".


The Reformation prevailed in Nordhausen in 1523/24. The driving force here was the mayor Michael Meyenburg. That year Thomas Müntzer was in the city. Nordhausen was the first city to officially join the Reformation by council resolution in 1524, after a follower of Martin Luther had already given one of the first Protestant sermons in Germany in 1522 in the St. Petri Church. In the following period, all parish and monastery churches in the city became Lutheran and the church property was secularized, with the only exception of the Holy Cross Monastery, which continued as a Catholic body until 1810.

Although two city fires (1540 and 1612), the plague epidemics and the Thirty Years War hampered the development of the city, it continued to grow. The plague raged repeatedly in Nordhausen in the years 1393, 1398, 1438, 1463, 1500, 1550, 1565 and 1682. In 1550 a first register of the dead was drawn up, which lists over 2,500 victims. In 1626 there were over 3,000 deaths and in 1682 3,509 victims are recorded.

Nordhausen was persecuted by witches from 1559 to 1644. 27 people were involved in witch trials, eight were executed, five sentenced to expulsion from the country and four died in torture or in prison.

There were further city fires in 1710 - the burnt down rectory was replaced by today's orphanage by 1717 - and in 1712, so that little of the medieval building fabric was preserved. Of the twelve churches in the Middle Ages, only the cathedral, the Blasiikirche, the Frauenbergkirche and the Altendorf church remained. During the Thirty Years' War the city was temporarily occupied by the Swedes, high contributions were extorted and all of the city's cannons and some of the church bells were stolen. As a result, the city secretly supported the Harzschützen with money, room and board.

Brandenburg occupied the city from 1703 to 1714.

From the 19th century to the Weimar Republic
As a result of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1802, Prussia received Thuringian areas as compensation for territories on the left bank of the Rhine that were lost to France. The city of Nordhausen was occupied by Prussian troops on August 2, 1802 and incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia, which lost its imperial freedom. On February 7, 1803, the city lost the right to mint. From 1807 to 1813 Nordhausen belonged to the Kingdom of Westphalia, which Napoleon had built for his brother Jérôme Bonaparte, and then again to Prussia, which was confirmed by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Nordhausen remained a Prussian city until 1945.

In the third book (second chapter) of his novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame from 1831, Victor Hugo Nordhausen praises Nuremberg, Vitré in France and Vitoria in Spain as a model Gothic city that, in contrast to Paris in the early 19th century, was able to retain its originality . Because of its chewing tobacco factory G. A. Hanewacker (founded in 1817), Nordhausen was the center of chewing tobacco production in Germany.

Nordhausen was briefly a garrison town under Prussian rule: 1832–1848 IV. Jägerabteilung, 1868–1870 II. Battalion 67th Infantry Regiment.

In the period up to 1866, a smuggling activity that was hitherto unknown in Thuringia flourished in Nordhausen. Above all, coffee, tea and tobacco were smuggled because these luxury foods were taxed much less in the neighboring Kingdom of Hanover than in Prussia. Even the strictest threats of punishment could not change anything. The border ran along today's street at the enclosure. At times smoking tobacco and the consumption of brandy in public were banned.

In 1867 Eduard Baltzer founded the German vegetarian movement in Nordhausen. The first congress of German vegetarians in the city follows in 1869.

In the middle of the 19th century, industrialization began in Nordhausen and initially extended to chewing tobacco, grain brandy (Nordhäuser), wallpaper manufacture, weaving, ice machines and coffee substitutes. The economic basis broadened around 1900 mainly in the machine, engine and shaft construction industry.

In 1866 Nordhausen was connected to the railway from Halle (Saale), the continuation to Heiligenstadt and Kassel was opened a year later. Rail routes to Northeim and Erfurt followed in the next few years. The tram has been in Nordhausen since August 25, 1900. The commissioning of a modern water pipeline (1874), a hospital (1888), the Harzquerbahn (1897/99) and the construction of the Nordhäuser Dam mark further municipal progress up to the First World War.


From 1815 to 1945 Nordhausen belonged to the Prussian province of Saxony, in which it had been a separate urban district in the administrative district of Erfurt since 1882. In addition, the district office of the Grafschaft Hohenstein district was located here.

At the beginning of the World War 3,000 conscripts were drafted, in 1916 the number rose to over 5,000 and in May 1918 to around 6,500. The war memorial erected in 1925 commemorates 1,048 fallen north houses. Although economic development was interrupted by the war, it continued to develop positively. expressed in lively construction activity; the new city theater and the stadium with outdoor pool were built.

From May 27 to 29, 1927 the city celebrated its millennium, on the occasion of which special postmarks, postage stamps, festival postcards and medals as well as a two-volume and richly illustrated history of the city were issued. The Reich Ministry of Finance also approved the issuance of a marketable 3-mark commemorative coin with a circulation of 100,000 pieces.

National Socialism and World War II
In 1933 the NSDAP took control of the city. In the Reichstag election on March 5, 1933, she received 46.7 percent of the vote in Nordhausen. By the summer of 1933 at least 20 members of the KPD and SPD had been taken into protective custody, but several were released after a brief detention. Some of the arrested were interned in the Siechenhof, others in the court prison, but the majority were taken to the police prison in Erfurt and from there to concentration camps. In March 1933, the NSDAP and DNVP held almost 60 percent of the seats in the city council. This was followed by the synchronization of the city administration. Mayor Curt Baller, who is considered to be left-wing liberal, tried in vain to stay in office. On July 1, 1933, the lawyer Heinz Sting was appointed Lord Mayor by the district government. In September 1933, the social democrat and editor of the “People's newspaper” Johannes Kleinspehn was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison.

In June 1933 the local group of German Christians was founded under the pastor of the St. Blasii community.

After the death of District Administrator Gerhard Stumme, a fierce power struggle broke out in the spring of 1934 between Sting and the NSDAP district leader Heinrich Keizer, which also caused a sensation in the staff of the Führer’s deputy. On October 19, 1934, Heinz Sting was given leave of absence as Lord Mayor, and Keizer was transferred to Saalfeld-Rudolstadt in 1935.

After the introduction of compulsory military service, the Boelcke barracks with accommodation buildings and vehicle hangars were built for the air force in the south-east of Nordhausen in 1935/36. The air base served primarily as a training and test site, and an aircraft yard was also in operation here at times.

During the November pogroms in 1938, apartments and shops were destroyed and the synagogue on the horse market was set on fire. The 400 or so Jews from Nordhausen emigrated or were later deported. On April 14, 1942, the deportation of the Jews who had remained in Nordhausen began.

From December 1939 to June 1940 around 9,000 Saarlanders were housed in private households and collective accommodation in Nordhausen. The first Polish prisoners of war arrived in autumn 1939. At the beginning of 1942 around 450 prisoners of war were registered, in March 1945 there were 700 prisoners of war.

From 1937 to 1945 the armaments center Mittelwerk Dora was located near Nordhausen and from August 1943 the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp with 60,000 prisoners (20,000 of whom were killed by 1945), in which, after the attack on Peenemünde, the production of so-called retaliatory weapons, above all, was located the new A4 (rocket), but also the older Fieseler Fi 103, took place. In addition, 10,000 German prisoners and foreign forced laborers who were housed in 38 camps were forced to work in various companies. The largest forced labor camp with a maximum of 6,000 inmates, some of whom had to work for the Junkers aircraft and engine works, was in the Boelcke barracks. From the end of January 1945 this became a “sick and death camp of the Mittelbau complex” and was located in the south-east of Nordhausen. It was badly hit in the British bombing raids on April 3rd and 4th. The US Army forced the residents of Nordhausen to rescue, transport and bury the dead. The 1,300 victims were buried in the cemetery of honor on Stresemann-Ring. A memorial erected in 1999 commemorates them. Next to it is a cemetery of honor for 215 Soviet victims, which was laid out in 1946.


On the night of August 25 to August 26, 1940, Nordhausen was first targeted by an air raid when two bombers attacked the airfield. Smaller attacks were flown on April 12, 1944 and July 4, 1944. On February 22, 1945 at around 12:30 p.m. US bombers attacked the marshalling yard, but hit the lower town, some facilities in the industrial area and the former Luftwaffe telecommunications school in the Boelcke barracks. A total of 296 multi-purpose bombs were dropped, killing 40 people. On February 26, the Südharzer Kurier published an obituary notice for the “fallen soldiers of the terrorist attack” with the announcement that the city would be buried with a memorial service.

On July 1, 1944, the Reichsstatthalter in Thuringia was entrusted with the exercise of the duties and powers of the Upper President in the state administration of the Erfurt administrative district. On October 29, 1944, the age groups 1884 to 1928 were recorded for the Volkssturm and divided into 29 battalions. The first 200 Volkssturm men were called to the front on February 21, 1945.

At the beginning of March 1945, 42,207 residents were registered in Nordhausen. In addition there were 23,467 “non-residents” (659 prisoners of war, 503 wounded soldiers in 5 hospitals, 420 members of the navy, 6082 foreign workers in mass quarters).

A week before the US armed forces marched in, the city was 74 percent destroyed by two British air raids on Nordhausen on April 3 and 4, 1945, killing around 8,800 people and leaving more than 20,000 homeless. The bombing was ordered by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force on April 2, 1945. They called for an attack in support of the 1st US Army with priority at the earliest opportunity. The purpose of the RAF attacks in April 1945 was to clear the way for an unhindered advance from the resistance expected in the southern Harz region. The first major attack on April 3 at 4 p.m. was carried out by 247 Lancaster bombers and 8 mosquitos of the 1st and 8th Bomb Groups, which dropped 1,170 tons of high explosive bombs in 20 minutes, especially on the southeast quadrant of the city. Around 1200 prisoners also died. The second major attack on April 4 at 9 a.m. with 243 Lancaster bombers of No. 5 bomber group and 1,220 tons of bombs are considered to be the heaviest attack and aimed as area bombing, also with a firestorm triggered by phosphorus bombs on the inner city area. Mainly residential areas (10,000 apartments), the hospital and numerous cultural monuments of outstanding importance were destroyed. The city hospital, which had already been evacuated on the evening of April 3, moved to the Kohnstein tunnel on April 8. There were from 3./4. April also many thousands of northern houses fled. With the exception of the earlier Boelcke barracks, no targets that could be identified as military or important to the war effort were hit. The train station, the airfield, the railway tracks, the industrial plants and the Dora concentration camp, where the A4 rocket was also produced, remained undamaged. The St. Blasii Church, the Cathedral and the Frauenberg Church were badly damaged. The Frauenberg monastery, the Neustadt parish church of St. Jakobi, the market church of St. Nikolai, and the St. Petri church were destroyed (tower partially preserved). The remains of these buildings were demolished after the war. The city wall including the partly used towers and Wiechhäuser was badly hit, the town hall was destroyed except for the surrounding walls. Large numbers of the bourgeois half-timbered buildings from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and early Classicism styles characteristic of Nordhausen were destroyed. In the city center, numerous fires raged for days, bombs with time fuses exploded, and the urban area was under fire from low-flying aircraft. Initially only a few residents tried to bury the dead or to salvage their belongings.

The losses of the permanent population amounted to 6,000 people, those of the non-permanent population to 1,500, plus 1,300 prisoners from the Boelcke barracks, which together results in an estimated number of victims of 8,800. This refers only to the closer urban area of ​​Nordhausen, without the losses in the later incorporated districts. There are also higher estimates of over 10,000 deaths, for example by the Antifa Committee in June 1945. Of the 8,800 deaths, around 4,500 were women and children.

At the beginning of April 1945 the Volkssturm made preparations to defend the city. A majority of the officers and airmen set off in the direction of the "Harz Fortress" in the following days. Shortly after the police and party officials had left the city, the Volkssturm, which had been decimated by the air raids, dissolved.


On the morning of April 11, 1945, the 104th US Infantry Division (1st US Army) advancing via Werther occupied Nordhausen without a fight with tank support. Around 11 a.m., the soldiers encountered the survivors of the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in the badly destroyed Boelcke barracks. About 1200 prisoners died in the bombing of the city in the accommodation blocks. The concentration camp to the northwest was reached on the same day. Mittelwerk Dora itself had never been bombed and fell into the hands of the US troops undamaged with all secret weapons and documents. There were smaller firefights in the area around the Kohnstein and in the village of Crimderode. Around 200 German soldiers and suspicious people in the city were captured and brought together in the Rothleimmühle assembly camp. The city was officially handed over in the afternoon. Military governor became Captain William A. McElroy.

On April 12, the military administration released Nordhausen for eight days to be looted by former prisoners and foreign forced laborers. Activities of the werewolf (Nazi organization) became known at the end of April and some weapons and ammunition stocks were confiscated. On May 8, 1945, the mayor appointed by the Americans, the Social Democratic workers' leader Otto Flagmeyer, had to threaten all looters with the death penalty. On May 13th, a memorial service for the victims from the Boelcke barracks took place in the cemetery of honor. All adult northern houses had to take part in it, after which they received personal documents and ration cards. Since the Nordhausen hospitals had all been destroyed, an auxiliary hospital was set up in Ilfeld from April 1945. In Nordhausen, too, typhus ruled from spring 1945, which exacerbated the desolate situation in the city.

Soviet occupation zone and GDR period
On June 16, 1945, the former Prussian administrative district of Erfurt and thus also Nordhausen were incorporated into the state of Thuringia. The Red Army replaced the US Army as the occupying power on July 2, 1945.

In July 1945 there were over 7,200 people in the city and rural district who had their place of residence in the three newly formed Western Allied occupation zones. They sought protection from the air raids in the region during the war. In December 1945 their number was 1,411. In the course of the expulsion, the number of refugees in June 1945 was 10,463, in December 1945 a total of 18,054. They came from Berlin and the Mark Brandenburg, from Pomerania, East and West Prussia, a great many from the Sudetenland and the vast majority from Silesia; they were initially housed in larger camps.

The war-torn inner city of Nordhausen was rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s after clearing the rubble in 1945. The historical settlement structure was completely disregarded. Instead, wide main roads such as Rautenstrasse and Töpferstrasse were created, in line with contemporary tastes. Only in the north-west of the old town in the vicinity of the cathedral was the old town structure preserved, which survived both the air raids and the GDR era. The Bismarck monument in the promenade and the military freedom monument on the Theaterplatz were demolished in 1945.

The Nordhausen Trial was conducted as a United States Army war crimes trial in 1947. After the dissolution of the federal states in the GDR, which was founded in 1949, the city belonged to the district of Erfurt from 1952 until Thuringia was reconstituted as a federal state in 1990. There it was the district town of the Nordhausen district, which was converted into today's Nordhausen district in 1994.

Nordhausen was a center of unrest in the Erfurt district on and around June 17, 1953. As early as the first days of June 1953 there were strikes against the decreed increases in labor standards. On June 17th there was a mighty strike in the VEB IFA tractor factory. However, the workers were unable to go to demonstrations in the city because the plant had been surrounded by the People's Police and the People's Police Barracked. There was also a strike in the shaft construction and drilling operations. Soon the slogans of the strikers became political: Away with the government, free elections and lifting of the state of emergency imposed by the Soviet Army. The strike leader was the union official Otto Reckstat (1898-1983), who worked as an auxiliary fitter at Nordhäuser VEB ABUS-Maschinenbau. Strikes and riots continued on June 18, when people's police units occupied the factories under the protection of the Soviet Army.


On August 22, 1961, Nordhausen was the destination of the 5th stage (Jena - Nordhausen; 136 km) and the following day the start of the 1st half stage (Nordhausen - Kyffhäuser; individual time trial; 24 km) of the 6th stage (Nordhausen - Dessau; 164 km) the 12th GDR tour; on August 14, 1962 destination of the 1st stage (Magdeburg - Nordhausen; 147 km) and on the following day start of the 2nd stage (Nordhausen - Bad Langensalza; 100 km) of the 13th GDR tour; on September 5, 1974 finish of the 6th stage (Dessau - Nordhausen; 143 km) and on the following day start and finish of the 7th stage (“Across the Harz”; 134 km) of the 22nd GDR tour; on August 20, 1976 destination of the 7th stage (Jena - Nordhausen; 165 km) and on the following day the start and finish of the 8th stage (“across the Harz”; 119 km) of the 24th GDR tour.

On May 29, 1980, at a meeting of representatives of the LSK / LV command and the GDR border troops, it was decided to relocate Helicopter Squadron 16 from Salzwedel to the new location in Nordhausen due to the increased number of personnel and technology. In the following years, this air force air base, built in the mid-1930s, was expanded and provided with concreted helicopter parking areas, taxiways and a maintenance hangar. On October 14, 1986, the relay and staff relocated. At this point there were 15 Mi-2 and three Mi-8 in stock. On December 1, 1986, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the GDR border troops, the helicopter unit was given the honorary name "Albert Kuntz".

On September 22, 1987, in the Albert-Kuntz-Sportpark, the GDR's Olympic soccer team competed against the Dutch Olympic team in qualifying for the 1988 Summer Olympics.

With 52,290 inhabitants (1989), the city was one of the most populous in the Erfurt district and was the second largest industrial center. Around 1989, around 25,000 people were employed in the factories that manufactured numerous products for the entire GDR. The most important ones included IFA Motorenwerke, VEB Schachtbau and RFT Fernmeldewerk, in which all telephones for the GDR were produced. The VEB Nordbrand was considered the "largest and most modern spirits producer in the GDR", while VEB Tabak was the "largest cigarette manufacturer in the republic"; until the end of the 1990s, a. produced the cigarette brand Cabinet.

On October 31, 1989, around 25,000 people met on August-Bebel-Platz for the first open demonstration against the GDR regime; on November 7, 1989, around 35,000 to 40,000 participants gather. On December 4, 1989, members of the New Forum occupied the district office of the AfNS - the former district office of the MfS - in Dr.-Kurt-Fischer-Strasse (today Ludolfinger Strasse 13) and prevented further destruction of files. After Peter Heiter (SED) resigned as mayor in February 1990, Olaf Dittmann (NDPD) held the office. On May 6, 1990, the doctor Manfred Schröter (CDU) became the first freely elected mayor.

Nordhausen in reunified Germany
Since October 14, 1990, Nordhausen has belonged to the state of Thuringia as a district town. The last Soviet soldiers left their garrison by the end of July 1991. Almost all of the city's large companies were unable to cope with the new market economy and there was an enormous loss of jobs, which also caused the city's population to shrink.

On July 1, 1994, Nordhausen received the status of a large district town in the course of some incorporations.

The Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences was founded in 1997 and since May 1, 2004, Nordhausen has officially been “University City”. After the connection to the federal autobahn 38 in 2002 there was an economic stabilization and realignment of the Nordhausen companies.

Large parts of the city center, such as the Petersberg, were renovated as part of the Nordhausen State Garden Show in 2004. On December 1, 2007, Petersdorf, Rodishain and Stempeda were incorporated.

On September 23, 2008, the city received the title “Place of Diversity” awarded by the federal government. Nordhausen has been the 17th fair trade city since June 5, 2010. In 2012 she was accepted into the "Hanse City Association". Nordhausen was the first city to officially join the Reformation by a council resolution in 1524 and is a member of the Federation of Luther Cities. Since February 2015 she has been part of the organization “Mayors for Peace”.



Nordhausen is a medium-sized town and is nestled between the foothills of the Harz Mountains in the north, the fertile Golden Aue in the southeast and Rüdigsdorf Switzerland in the northeast. To the north is the South Harz Nature Park. The area around Nordhausen belongs to the layered landscape which, as the southern foreland of the Harz Mountains, occupies the space between the mountain edge and the Hainleite. This foreland has wide and flat, sometimes basin-like widened valley lowlands, a number of low elevation ranges. Diluvial gravel over Upper Buntsandstein forms the building site.

The Zorge - a tributary of the Helme - and the Salza, which rises from the largest spring in Thuringia, the Salzaspring, flow through the city. South-east of Nordhausen there are six quarry ponds, which were created by gravel mining from the 1960s and are generally summarized as "Kiesschacht" or "Bielener Kiesseen": Auesee, Bielener See, Forellensee, Möwensee, Sundhäuser See and Tauchersee.

After Erfurt, Jena, Gera, Weimar, Gotha and Eisenach, Nordhausen is the seventh largest city in Thuringia in terms of population, almost on a par with Eisenach. The closest major cities are Göttingen (around 60 km west), Erfurt (around 61 km south), Halle (Saale) (around 81 km east), Braunschweig (around 87 km north) and Magdeburg (around 91 km northeast).

The original urban area (today's old town) lies on a hill sloping to the west and south. The altitude of the city varies between 180 and 250 m above sea level. M. Hence the characteristic names Upper and Lower Town.

The area of ​​the city is 105.62 km² (2019), which is 14.8 percent of the area of ​​the district. The north-south extension is 12.8 km and the east-west extension 19.0 km. The lowest point of the urban area is 165 m above sea level and the highest 360 m.

Originally, Nordhausen had little land around the city. In 1315 the Hohnstein area around the city was purchased. In 1365 the new town area was incorporated and efforts continued to acquire land in the west and south beyond the Zorge to Helme and Salza (1368, 1370, 1559, 1578). In 1950 the villages of Krimderode and Salza were incorporated, and from the 1990s onwards, a total of twelve more incorporations followed, increasing the urban area from 79.14 km² (1994) to 105.62 km² (2019).



Nordhausen is located in the northern Thuringian hill country, which consists entirely of red sandstone. The basin-like hilly landscape is mainly used for agriculture. In the valleys there are deposits of loess and other loose rock and numerous sinkholes due to underground leaching.



The area around Nordhausen is included in the so-called Börde climate, which is characterized by the July mean of over 17 ° C, a mild winter (January not below −1 ° C) and just sufficient rainfall of 500–650 millimeters. Beech forest, oak and hornbeam are its characteristics. To the west and north is the somewhat rougher central German mountain and hill country climate, while the Upper Harz and the Brocken have a special position due to its low mountain range with a short vegetation period, abundant rainfall and relatively low temperatures. The Harz plays a protective role for Nordhausen; the Harz fuselage is so high and wide that it effectively blocks the cold air masses advancing from the north and northeast. Nordhausen is much more open to the westerly winds. In the spring and autumn months a strong ground fog development can occur. The city chronicle reports several years in which the mills could not grind due to the lack of summer rainfall.

From 1900 to 1950 the average temperature was 8.1 ° C, from 1956 to 2005 it was 8.6 ° C. In August 1998 a temperature maximum of 38.6 ° C was measured, in January 1987 a temperature minimum of −27.2 ° C.

The historian Friedrich Christian Lesser recorded 22 severe storms from 1615 to 1781. Three severe storms (1925, 1946, 1980) were counted in the 20th century. At the turn of the year 1925/26 and in January 1946 floods caused great damage; the summer and winter floods are due to the specific runoff conditions in the Harz region.

A hurricane with wind force 12 and heavy rain damaged numerous houses and uprooted trees on July 15, 1980. In the city park 60 percent and in the enclosure a third of the trees were destroyed. The valuable tree population in Hohenrode Park was also significantly decimated. The hurricane raged particularly devastatingly in the adjacent forest areas, where it caused 240,000 cubic meters of broken wood; about 70 percent of the trees hit were beeches, the rest spruce. Many slopes became bare areas.