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Saarlouis (French Sarrelouis; between 1793 and 1810 Sarre-Libre, from 1936 to 1945 Saarlautern) is the sixth largest city in Saarland with around 35,000 inhabitants. The city is the administrative seat of the Saarlouis district and is a school and trade center. The economic focus is the automotive industry.



With the Peace of Nijmegen in 1679, Lorraine fell to France. A year later, in 1680, the French King Louis XIV (Louis XIV) had Saarlouis (original name: Sarre-Louis) built to protect the new eastern border and the fortress of Metz. The name of the "Französische Straße" in Saarlouis still indicates this function, because the German Gate in Metz in combination with the "Porte de Sarrelouis" (Saarlouiser Tor) of the Metz fortress Bellecroix corresponded in military terms with the "French Gate" in Saarlouis . The French master builder Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban designed the fortress city on the Saar in a symmetrical star shape with six bastions that were used to set up cannons. The plans for this came from Thomas de Choisy. The pont-écluse (lock bridge) is an important element of the defenses. In the event of a defense, the Saar, flowing through the city, could be dammed up by means of inlaid beams in order to flood the surrounding area, based on the principle of an inundation fortress (flood fortress). This should make it difficult for a besiegers to bring cannons to the city and to dig earthworks and trenches.

After the city of Saarlouis was founded, the inhabitants of the fortified city of Wallerfangen (French: Vaudrevange) were forcibly relocated to the new city in 1687/88. In the course of this, most of the buildings in Wallerfangen were demolished in order to obtain building material for the houses in Saarlouis. Wallerfangen developed back into a settlement consisting of a few individual farmsteads. Originally, the fortress construction engineers had planned to develop Wallerfangen as a fortress, but the nearby Limberg would have allowed the city to be bombed from above in the event of war. Thus, Wallerfangen was given up as a fortress and the new fortress was built at the current location of Saarlouis at a sufficient distance from the Limberg.

In connection with the establishment of the city, some new settlements emerged in the surrounding area, for example Beaumarais, Picard, Bourg-Dauphin (today Neuforweiler) and Felsberg (quarries). The history of the Dillinger Hütte is also shaped by the development of the fortress, in particular the need for hardware during the construction.

From now on, the city of Saarlouis was to function as the capital of the newly created Province de la Sarre (Saar Province). During a visit in 1683, Ludwig XIV awarded Saarlouis the city coat of arms with the rising sun and the three Bourbon lilies. The motto of the coat of arms is Dissipat Atque Fovet: It (the sun) scatters (the clouds) and warms (the earth).

According to the Lisdorfer Weistum of 1458, the building site of the Saarlouis fortress was originally owned by the Premonstratensian Abbey of Wadgassen. Within today's inner city area, the Fraulautern Abbey and some citizens of the then city of Wallerfangen had free goods, but these were subject to the sovereignty (not the manorial rule) of the Wadgassen Abbey. Wadgassen thus had high jurisdiction, hunting rights and other regalia. With the construction of the fortress, Wadgassen had to cede the area to the French king.

The former Saarlouis fortress still determines the hexagonal layout of the city center today. In addition to the buildings by Vauban, there are also some structures that were built after the withdrawal of the French from the Prussians in 1816 under the overall direction of Major General Gustav von Rauch, the General Inspector of all Prussian fortresses.

From 1887 the fortress was razed, but in the north of the city center there are ramparts and moats of the fortress. The walls are now used by the catering industry under the name of casemates, while the water-filled trenches were integrated into the urban green spaces. The monuments to Marshal Ney and the soldier Lacroix are now on Vauban's Island, a former demi-lune. Fort Rauch street is a reminder of the fortification expansion from 1816 under the overall direction of the later Prussian Minister of War von Rauch.

In the inner city area there are a number of former barracks, which are now used, among other things, as a museum and shopping center. The so-called Vauban barracks from 1680 is the oldest of its kind.


The fortress town of Neuf-Brisach (Neubreisach), also built by Vauban and located in Alsace, is very similar in construction and location to Saarlouis and has largely been preserved in its original state to this day.

Between Lorraine and France
Lorraine regained its sovereignty in 1697, but Saarlouis remained a French exclave. On the occasion of the death of the French king and city founder of Saarlouis, Ludwig XIV., On September 1, 1715 in Versailles, a solemn ministry of the soul and a forty-day prayer for the redemption of the parish church of St. Ludwig was held on December 1 of the same year Soul of the late king from purgatory.

On the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the city of Saarlouis and the birth of the French Dauphin Louis Joseph Xavier François de Bourbon (born October 22, 1781 in Versailles; † June 4, 1789 at Meudon Palace), a high mass was held on November 11, 1781 with a solemn Te Deum celebrated in St. Ludwig. The city held a celebration in the town hall and the military in the commandant's office. A bonfire ended the holiday. Special religious and civil celebrations took place in St. Ludwig on the occasion of the birth of all the royal princes of the House of Bourbon.

In the course of the French Revolution, clerics were persecuted. The city was given the name Sarre-Libre on July 22, 1793 for anti-royalist reasons, which was reversed in 1810.

On the occasion of Napoleon's coronation celebrations on December 2, 1804 in the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral as "Emperor of the French", Saarlouis celebrated its own festival on January 6, 1805 with bonfires on the surrounding highlands, illumination of the city and a celebratory Te Deum in St. Ludwig. On the following anniversaries of Napoleon's birthday (August 15) and on the anniversaries of the (self-) coronation of the new emperor, the municipality of Saarlouis financed a young Saarlouis girl who married a soldier at the front with a cash as marriage goods. The related church weddings were then carried out in St. Ludwig. At the wedding feast between Napoleon and Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810, two Saarlouis bridal couples were even given the dowry.

In addition, with the Napoleon Festival of 1811, a celebratory Te Deum was celebrated in St. Ludwig on the occasion of the birth of the heir to the throne, Napoleon Franz Bonaparte, who saw the light of day in Paris on March 20, 1811. Here, too, the outside of the Saarlouis church was magnificently illuminated, and the inscription "Iam nova progenies coelo demittitur alto. Pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem" was emblazoned above the entrance. (German translation: A new scion is already being sent down from heaven. He will rule over an earth pacified by the high powers of his father.) The verses that refer to the oracles of the Sibylline books were Virgil's fourth eclogue taken.

With the fall of Napoleon and the reinstatement of the Bourbons, the Ludwigstag was celebrated again in Saarlouis on August 25, 1814. During the high mass in the parish church, people prayed for the divine blessing to be sent down on the brother of King Louis XVI, who was publicly beheaded during the revolution, Louis XVIII. Bells ringing and a gun salute from the cannon barrels of the fortress city flanked the church celebration.

Incorporation into the Kingdom of Prussia
With the Congress of Vienna and the Second Peace of Paris on November 20, 1815, Saarlouis came to the Kingdom of Prussia. The story of the soldier Lacroix also dates from this time.

During a stay in Saarbrücken, on November 27, 1815, the Prussian State Chancellor Karl August von Hardenberg gave the Higher Appeal Council Mathias Simon, who was in the Prussian service and who had previously acted as a judge in Trier, the power to use the new area under the title "Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine" Incorporate Kingdom of Prussia. The French garrison left the city on December 1, 1815, and the white lily banner of the Bourbons was lowered from the church tower of St. Ludwig. The fortress Saarlouis and its surrounding area were owned by Simon on December 2, 1815 as part of a celebration in St. Ludwig with the singing of the prayer "Salvum fac regem", this time referring to the ruler of Prussia, in the possession of King Friedrich Wilhelm III. taken:


"I am the undersigned, Königlich-Prussischer Oberappelations-Rath in the Grand Duchy of Lower Rhine, power of the above power of attorney, Royal Prussian Commissioner, to take possession of the territories, places and places ceded by France to Prussia, and up to the definitive organization with the upper administration of these areas, places and places, commissioned.

After today, December 2nd, seven o'clock in the morning, the solemnity of the taking of possession was announced by the ringing of the bells, (I) went to the main church at 10 o'clock, where the Lord Mayor of Saarlouis, along with his alderman, and all members of the magistrate, then all other public officials, had gathered.

The Royal Prussian Major General von Steinmetz, the commanding general, in the areas, places and places ceded by the peace treaty of November 20, were also present, along with their general staff.

The Royal Prussian military present in Saarlouis had come under rifle and the ceremonial procession was accompanied by the civil guard and their music.

I, the undersigned Royal Commissioner, with the consent of the Major General von Steinmetz, High Born, read out the above power of attorney from the State Chancellor, Prince von Hardenberg Your Highness, and informed the assembly of my mission.

Immediately the Lord Mayor and all members of the Magistrate, in their own name and as representatives of the residents, were committed to the new sovereign, Sr. Majesty, King Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia and his successors.

A separate written act was drawn up in this regard and signed by all members of the magistrate.

The whole gathering sounded three cheers for the new sovereign.

Accordingly, in my capacity as Royal Commissioner, and with regard to the taking of possession of the Saarlouis fortress in agreement with Major-General von Steinmetz and his presence, I declared that the real taking over of the city and fortress of Saarlouis, and all other places Cantons of Saarlouis and Rehlingen, and Sirck of the Moselle department, which by the peace treaty of November 20, ceded by France, and according to the special agreement reached between Prussia and the other allied powers, the states of Sr. Majesty the King of Prussia, of my most gracious lord, are incorporated, in the name of His Majesty the King of Prussia, to be accomplished; decreed that the royal. Prussian coats of arms are placed on all town and community halls; and the inhabitants of the city and fortress of Saarlouis, and of the other ceded areas, places and places, expelled to the subjects of loyalty and duty against the new sovereign.

A Te Deum sung by the Catholic clergy and the Gebät Salvum fac regem for the preservation of His Majesty the King of Prussia, the new sovereign, concluded this solemn act.

The current possession and seizure protocol is to be printed and, instead of the possession and seizure patent, posted in the city and fortress of Saarlouis, and in all ceded communities, places and squares.

This is what happened in Prussian Saarlouis, December 2, 1815. The Royal Commissioner Mathias Simon"


The city councilors were sworn in on January 2, 1816 in the Saarlouis parish church of St. Ludwig. On January 18, 1816, the anniversary of the self-coronation of Brandenburg's Elector Friedrich in Königsberg as “King in Prussia” (January 18, 1701), the Prussian eagle was attached to the commandant's office amid bells ringing and the Te Deum being sung.

Prussia expanded the fortifications built by France and built extensive casemates, among other things.

1848 revolution
In the Prüm arsenal storm on May 18, 1849, democratically-minded supporters of the revolution of 1848 armed themselves in order to militarily support the imperial constitution campaign. The action in the Eifel town of Prüm was - like the Iserlohn uprising and the other May uprisings in the Rhine Province and other parts of Prussia - a consequence of the policy of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, who in April 1848 rejected the dignity of Emperor and the Frankfurt Paulskirche constitution and the Prussian Parliament had dissolved.

The action was preceded by a large popular assembly with over 5,000 participants, which took place on May 13, 1849 on the Marienburg on the Moselle. The decision to arm himself was significantly influenced by Karl Grün, a left-wing democratic journalist and member of the Prussian state parliament. Five days later, led by the lawyer Victor Schily, around 100 revolutionaries from Prüm, Trier, Wittlich, Bitburg and other places in the region stormed the armory of the Prussian Landwehr in Prüm. They fired a few shots and some of the soldiers who were supposed to be guarding the weapons depot fraternized with them. Despite this success, there was no revolutionary uprising in the Moselle region. Karl Marx later reported that the leaders - Victor Schily and Peter Imandt - had moved with the guns and some men to the Palatinate, where they had joined the imperial constitution campaign. After the revolution was finally put down in July 1849, they went into exile in Switzerland and then in London in 1852.

Of the 43 people who were indicted in 1850, the Trier district court sentenced six to five years of forced labor. The military court in Saarlouis sentenced three Landsturm soldiers to death: Johann Manstein from Laufeld near Manderscheid, Anton Seilen and Nikolaus Alken from Prüm had refused to shoot the revolutionaries because they knew them. On Sunday, October 14, 1849, they were shot in Fort Rauch of the Saarlouis fortress. Two of the leaders Ludwig Simon (born in Saarlouis, but grew up in Trier) and Victor Schily, who fled to Switzerland after the crackdown on the imperial constitution campaign, were sentenced to death in absentia in 1851. Karl Grün, who had not participated in the storm himself, was arrested and charged with intellectual involvement, but acquitted after eight months in prison.

For the men fusiled in Saarlouis, a spiritual office was held in the parish church of St. Ludwig. The numerous participation of the population in the fair can be interpreted as a clear expression of solidarity with the executed and the goals of the revolution of 1848:


"Yesterday morning the solemn spiritual ministry held for the Prüm militants who were fusilized the previous Sunday took place in our parish church (sic). It may well be said that (sic) no church service has been attended as numerous as this for many years, as the church hardly offered enough space for the thousands (sic) of pious believers from all classes. The emotion was general and moving; there was abundant sacrifice for the widow (sic) and the orphans, and the tears (sic) moistened looks of the pious participants (sic) showed more than enough how close the sad lot (sic) of the deceased was to the heart. In the afternoon almost the entire population flowed to the flower-adorned graves of the dead, where, with the permission of our Lord fortress commanders, the Prüm militants who were still here came praying to pray the most fervent prayers for the rest of the fallen to send"


In the wake of the failed revolution of 1848/1849, there was an intensified ecclesiasticalism, or religious and association life, with a pronounced anti-Prussian thrust everywhere in the Catholic milieu of the Rhineland. The Saarlouisers had already had direct experience with the rigorous approach of the Prussian state with the reactions of the royal governments to the Prüm arsenal storm.

The introduction of the undemocratic three-class suffrage in the Kingdom of Prussia (over 80% of the population of the Saarlouis district was in the third class) was appreciated by the moderately liberal Saarlouis pastor and dean Franz Hecking and the other pastors of the Saarlouis district with their own demonstrative abstentions and one more or less covert call to the population to boycott elections. The turnout in the Catholic district of Saarlouis then marginalized in 1849 to 7.6%. Overall, in an internal report dated December 6, 1849, regarding the political attitudes of the clergy, the Saarlouis District Office assumed that the clergy of the district would give preference to the Catholic House of Habsburg-Lothringen in Vienna over the Hohenzollern dynasty in Berlin with regard to a future unification of the German Empire. As a result of the influence of the pastors, so the fear of the Trier district president Wilhelm Sebaldt, a systematic hatred of Prussia (sic!) Would be generated in the countryside.

The growing disputes between the Catholic Church and the Protestant-oriented Prussian state reached their climax in the so-called Kulturkampf. On November 26th, 1872, the government in Trier withdrew their permission to teach at the end of the school year from the five nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity, who had previously given elementary instruction in Saarlouis. The nuns should be replaced by secular teachers in order to end the influence of the church in the education of children. The Saarlouis city administration, which would have had to pay more for this pedagogical reshuffle, was able to postpone the recall of the religious and the abolition of the Catholic denominational school through several requests until April 1, 1876. The various culture war laws particularly affected the Catholic clergy. For example, pastor Gondorf in Ittersdorf and chaplain Imand from Dillingen were arrested in the vicinity of Saarlouis and finally expelled from the German Empire. The Trier bishop Matthias Eberhard was also arrested in 1874 and subsequently sentenced to a fine of 130,000 gold marks and a nine-month prison term. Eberhard died six months after his release from prison at the height of the Kulturkampf. At the time of his death, 250 priests had been tried and 230 parishes in his 731 diocese were vacant. The Saarlouis Catholics addressed the imprisoned bishop in an address of allegiance:


"In accordance with the teaching of our holy church, we want daily, with unlimited trust in God's holy counsel, in zealous prayer, the speedy end of the life of ours Invite mother to the trials imposed and await with Christian patience the time when it will please the Almighty to end these trials. But nothing can turn us back from the faith of our fathers, from our St. Roman Catholic Church, Our St. Father Pope Pius IX, from you, Most Revered Bishop, our rightful Shepherd and the priests who remain in communion with you.

Our grief is joined by the jubilation over the grace that God has given you to be allowed to suffer imprisonment for him, and it is our firm confidence that the Most High will break your fetters just as he himself victoriously out of the grave today is risen. Persevere in prayer for Your Episcopal graces in deep reverence

Saarlouis, on St. Easter of the year 1874.

(This is followed by 410 signatures)"


In order to give the Catholic protest an additional hearing in journalism, the “Aktiengesellschaft für Catholicionen” was founded in Saarlouis on May 31, 1872, the purpose of which was to publish a Catholic publication. On October 1, 1872, the “Saar-Zeitung” published by the stock corporation appeared and was immediately confiscated by the royal Prussian police. In 1873 the Prussian government in Trier demanded that all pastors who belonged to the stock corporation had to return their shares. However, this was unanimously rejected.

In the years 1877 to 1880, the Saarlouis chaplain Stein was deprived of the right to give religious instruction. A salary freeze was imposed on Dechant Hecking in the years from 1875 to 1881 due to the so-called bread basket law in order to enforce the recognition of the culture war laws. In protest against this state measure, the parishioners of St. Ludwig took over the salary of the pastor through voluntary donations. In 1876 the Prussian government banned the Saarlouis city administration from paying a wage subsidy to St. Ludwig for the chaplains, which has been customary since 1845. The parish brought an action against this regulation before the Saarlouis peace court. The court upheld the parish's complaint. Thereupon the state decree had to be lifted and the city again paid subsidies to pastors and chaplains (472.50 marks p.a.). In return, the parish transferred 600 marks annually from the church collection to the communal poor fund. Only in 1886 could the Catholic denominational school be reintroduced in the wake of the so-called "Peace Laws".

Incorporation of Rodens
In 1907 the previously independent Roden was incorporated into Saarlouis and was given the name Saarlouis 2 (until 1936).

Saar area and World War II
After the end of the First World War in 1918, Saarlouis was occupied by France. The Saar area came under the administration of the League of Nations and was incorporated into the French customs area. During this time, one of the first domain schools in Saarland was established in Saarlouis. Heinrich Rodenstein taught here from February 1, 1934 until the Saar referendum.

After the referendum of January 13, 1935, the Saar area became part of the German Reich again on March 1, 1935. Between the Nazis' seizure of power in the German Reich in 1933 and the referendum in 1935, Saarlouis and the surrounding area became an important hub for the smuggling of anti-racist propaganda into the German Reich.

For fear of persecution in the Third Reich, many of the 364 Saarlouis citizens of Jewish faith fled mainly to surrounding countries around 1935. About a hundred of them were murdered as part of the National Socialist persecution. The synagogue, which was inaugurated in 1828, was devastated during the Reichskristallnacht in 1938 and was then used as a warehouse and carpenter's workshop until 1963.

In 1936, Saarlouis was merged with the current district of Fraulautern (former “Lautern” monastery) and renamed Saarlautern. The name was changed on January 13, 1936, the first anniversary of the vote. In the German Reich, after the Ruhr occupation in 1923 and from 1933 (Nazi era), numerous - especially French - terms and place names were Germanized.

The elimination of the part of the name "Louis" was viewed favorably in the course of the Germanization efforts of the National Socialists; this is not documented in writing by primary sources, but a hypothesis that is supported by several indirect statements. The name Saarlautern was first mentioned by Adolf Hitler at election rallies in 1935, which, however, had a provocative character as the French part of the name Louis was omitted. Comprehensible through existing documents, such as B. local festival magazines, is the contraction of the Celtic name components of Saar and Lautern. According to the official municipal statistics of the German Reich, the name Saarlautern was introduced on January 13, 1936, the first anniversary of the referendum; however, the incorporation of Fraulautern did not take place until April 1, 1936, so it cannot have fully motivated the previous renaming.

In 1938 parts of the west wall were built in the districts of Fraulautern and Roden. The Maginot Line had previously been built on the French side.


After the outbreak of war (September 1, 1939), the city, which was in the Red Zone, was evacuated. They feared attacks by France, which, because of its alliance with Poland, had declared war on the German Reich on September 3, 1939 after the attack on Poland. But it came to the so-called seat war; This was followed by the western campaign on May 10, 1940. This ended after a few weeks with a victory for the Wehrmacht; the Compiegne armistice on June 22, 1940 was a de facto surrender of France. Since then the city has bordered territory occupied by Germany.

The Second World War left its mark on Saarlouis. As early as 1942 the Royal Air Force (RAF) confused Saarlouis with Saarbrücken during one of its night air raids on large cities of the German Reich; the city suffered severe damage. The RAF first used marker bombs in the attack. In the autumn of 1944, Hitler declared the city a "Saarlautern Citadel". As the front approached, Saarlouis was evacuated.

Between December 1944 and March 1945 there were numerous skirmishes between Germans and Americans in which control of the city changed several times. Artillery fire destroyed large parts of the historic city center, the urban warfare did the rest. Air strikes mainly hit women and areas near the Roden railway system.

In the course of Operation Undertone (an operation by the 7th US Army and the 1st French Army from March 15 to 24, 1945), the Allies finally gained the upper hand. Before that, the Nordwind company had influenced the military situation around Saarlouis in Alsace and Lorraine from December 31, 1944 to January 25, 1945 (it was the last offensive by German forces on the western front; it was related to the Ardennes offensive).

After the final conquest by the Americans, the Saar area was occupied by France, which initially sought annexation. As one of the first official acts, District President Hans Neureuter ordered the restoration of the historically based name on July 14, 1945, so that the city of Saarlautern now again bore the name of the City of Saarlouis.

Post war period
In the post-war period, Saarlouis was part of the Saar state.

In 1968 the last French troop contingent withdrew. Saarlouis has been a garrison town for the Bundeswehr since 1972. The staff and other parts of Airborne Brigade 1 (“Saarland Brigade”) are stationed in the Graf Werder barracks.

City anniversary
In 1980 Saarlouis celebrated its 300th birthday. On this occasion, Alfred Gulden wrote the play Saarlouis 300.

On July 1, 1970, the previously independent municipality of Neuforweiler was incorporated.