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Suhl is an independent middle town in the Franconian south of the Free State of Thuringia. It is located on the southern slope of the Thuringian Forest in the valley of Lauter and Hasel. Suhl is set by the state planning as a middle center with partial functions of a regional center.

Due to its history as the location of armaments factories, the elected representatives of the city council declared Suhl a city of peace on February 14, 1991. Nevertheless, due to the long tradition of manufacturing hunting weapons, the city calls itself the arms city of Suhl in accordance with a city council resolution from 2005.

Over the centuries, Suhl was a town shaped by mining. In 1952 it became the district town of the Suhl district. The decision to redesign and enlarge the city followed. During the renovation process, extensive old buildings in the city center were torn down and replaced with modern, prefabricated architecture. So within a few years Suhl grew from around 25,000 inhabitants to over 56,000. Since 1990, however, the urban district has recorded by far the largest population decline of all districts and urban districts in Germany, at almost 40 percent.

In the past, Suhl was known both for its centuries-old arms manufacture and for the automobile and two-wheeler manufacturer Simson. Many people associate Suhl with the work of the composer and interpreter of folk music Herbert Roth. Today there are also well-known winter sports enthusiasts and sports clubs such as VfB 91 Suhl or the SWV Goldlauter-Heidersbach ski club.



Early history
Archaeological finds in the area of ​​today's city of Suhl prove that people lived there as early as 2000 BC. Around 500 BC. With the immigration of Celtic tribes people settled in the Suhl area. It is assumed that a single farm in the area of ​​the main church, located on the Rimbach, was the first settlement. The salt springs and the iron ore found were probably the reason for the settlement. The initial farm expanded into a village and gradually developed into a town over the following centuries.

middle age
Documents from the Fulda monastery repeatedly name a place between 900 and 1155 as "Sulaha". From around 1100 the area belonged to the Counts of Henneberg. The first secured documentary mention dates from the year 1300. The oldest iron hammers in Suhl were mentioned from 1363 to 1365: the Niederhammer and the Lauterhammer. This documents a previous tradition of iron ore mining that goes back to the middle of the 13th century. Reports of negotiations at the Berggericht zu Suhl have been handed down as early as 1474.

In place of an earlier building, the main church of St. Mary was built on the Kirchberg, the oldest settlement center in the city, from 1487 to 1491. After city fires in 1590, 1634 and 1753, the church was rebuilt, most recently in 1761 in the Rococo style.

Early modern age
From 1500 to 1806, Suhl, like the rest of the Henneberger Land, belonged to the Franconian Empire.

In 1527 the prince counts of Henneberg-Schleusingen confirmed Suhl's municipal rights and statutes that had already existed. In 1553 Suhl was designated as a mining town, which grants the town rights and duties as the seat of the mining administration and the mountain jurisdiction. In the same year, gunsmiths from Nuremberg and Augsburg set up shop, and handgun production has been documented since 1535.

Iron ore mining formed the basis for the development of pipe forging and gunsmithing. The manufacture of sickles and chariots is documented in 1155 and of armor, armor and swords in 1499. In 1548 the barchents and linen weavers guild was formed, and in 1555 the pipe and gunsmiths guild was founded. In 1563, Count Georg Ernst von Henneberg granted the “locks, gunsmiths, spearers and winch makers” guild privileges. At the end of the 16th century, over 20,000 rifle barrels were manufactured annually. In 1555, the construction of the Gottesackerkirche / Heiligkreuzkapelle located in front of the city gates began. The three main rivers Steina, Lauter and Hasel supplied the drive energy for 37 mills identified in the city area.

After the death of Georg Ernst von Henneberg in 1583, the town fell to the Saxon Wettins as joint property. The first major fire in the city is documented in 1590. Imperial Croatian troops under Field Marshal Count Johann Ludwig Hektor von Isolani looted and destroyed Suhl in the Thirty Years' War in 1634, after arms production and trade had peaked two years earlier. The troops of the Swedish King Gustav Adolf of Sweden were also supplied with weapons, so Suhl repeatedly appeared to the warring parties as a worthwhile target. Iron and arms production fell into a crisis. Mining has not been able to recover since then.

Suhl was hit by the witch hunt from 1553 to 1699. There were 116 witch trials with 74 executions in the entire current urban area with the districts of Albrechts, Dietzhausen, Goldlauter, Heinrichs (Suhl), Mäbendorf, Neundorf (Suhl), Vesser (Suhl) and Wichtshausen. Four defendants died under torture. On June 26, 2011, the victims of the Suhl witch trials were posthumously rehabilitated.

Organ building has been based in Suhl since the middle of the 17th century. Caspar Lehmann, also known as Kaspar Lochmann, ran an organ building company with Johann Heinrich Mann that is recognized in southern Thuringia. Suhl instruments are attested to, among others. in Steinbach (Steinbach-Hallenberg), Ohrdruf and Rohr.

In 1660, after the Saxon partition treaty, Suhl became Albertine and fell to the Duchy of Saxony-Zeitz as the seat of the Suhl office.

In the 1690s, Duke Moritz Wilhelm von Sachsen-Zeitz tried to revitalize the mining industry. After an appraisal by J. M. Paräus, mining director, a concept was developed, as a result of which a blast furnace was built in Suhl and numerous mines were reopened or reopened - some with the most modern mining technology, such as water art (1696 at the Moritz Wilhelm shaft).


On May 28, 1702, 150 dragoons marched into the city under the orders of the Electorate Colonel Roland and confiscated 620 rifles that were to be delivered to the Swedish general Baron Gyldenstein. The order for this was given by the Saxon Elector August the Strong, who wanted to set an example against the flourishing arms trade of the Suhler with war opponents like Sweden. The occupation troops left Suhl with the hint that they would also pick up those weapons that had been ordered by other foreign potentates. The mobilization of the land militia proclaimed by Duke Moritz Wilhelm was only lifted on July 15, 1702.

Although already unusual in many German areas, there is a case in Suhl for 1712 in which the executioner Glaser publicly branded two men and four women. He had a gallows burned on their backs for the person called gypsies.

In 1713, Johann Bernhard Bach (the elder), a cousin of Johann Sebastian Bach, inaugurated the new organ in the main church of St. Mary. The Bach family was connected to the city, part of this branching family had his musical training with the Suhl town musician and town piper Johannes Christoph Hoffmann senior. received, so Johann Bach (1604–1673), the great uncle, and Christoph Bach (1613–1661), the grandfather of Johann Sebastian Bach, furthermore Heinrich Bach (1615–1692) and Johannes Bach (1604–1673). Georg Christoph Bach (1642–1697) was cantor and schoolmaster in Heinrichs near Suhl from 1661 to 1668. Even in later years, Suhl was considered a good address for musical training. The composer Johann Peter Kellner (1705–1772) learned composition and typesetting technique there from Hieronymus Florentinus Quehl. Kellner later taught the composer and organist Johann Ernst Rembt (1749–1810), who was born in Suhl. Johann Friedrich Kessel, who was cathedral cantor in Freiberg from 1756 to 1798, and Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688–1755), whose father was cantor and rector of the Latin school in Suhl, also received their training there.

After the Sachsen-Zeitz line was extinguished, Suhl became part of Kursachsen in 1718. In addition to the Gothic Heiligkreuzkapelle / Gottesackerkirche, the baroque Kreuzkirche was built from 1731 to 1739 "in front of the city gates". From the last big city fire on May 1, 1753, only the building ensemble around the former lower malt house (today the weapons museum), the Kreuzkirche, two mills and a few houses, including some pipe smiths and hammer mills on the outskirts, were spared. The fire broke out shortly after 10 a.m. in what is now Stadelstrasse in the center of the village and spread through all the streets in the city center through Steinweg. A total of 542 private houses with 220 outbuildings, 490 stables and 161 barns burned down in addition to the public buildings. So that the rifle and barch manufacturers did not migrate after the fire, they received a state construction advance. Several well-known master builders were involved in the reconstruction of the city, such as Gottfried Heinrich Krohne from Weimar, who designed Schlegelmilch's corner house on the market in 1754.

In 1736 there were 119 master locksmiths or gunsmiths working in Suhl. This made the city the most important place for arms production in Electoral Saxony.

In 1746 the mining industry was almost completely down, so that the existence of the rifle factory was threatened due to a lack of iron ore. The ores that could be imported from Schmalkalden or Saalfeld were either too inferior or too expensive. Only two mines were still in operation in Suhl: God's blessing and the Red Crux. The Suhl council asked the supervisory office in Schleusingen for tax concessions and wood allotments for the "inclusion of a demigen Gebürges auf Eisen-Stein" on the Ringberg. The negotiations dragged on for ten years without success.

A city fire on May 1, 1753 caused great damage in the city center, from which the city only gradually recovered.

In 1765, Kursachsen sent the mining officer Wilhelm Gottlob Gläser and his son Friedrich Gottlob Gläser to take over the mining office in Suhl, in order to remedy the grievances that had existed since the 1740s. Supported by the knowledge of the Gläsers and motivated by the orderly conditions, there were a number of people willing to mine, miners and unions. Dozens of mines were opened. The "Henneberg mountain fever" broke out, but only lasted a few years. As early as 1775, more than half of the new mines had ceased operations.

In 1780, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, together with the geologist and mountain ridge Johann Karl Wilhelm Voigt, sought ideas for the revival of mining in Ilmenau in the Suhl-Goldlauter mines.

19th century
In 1803 the first mechanical printing machine was designed by Friedrich Koenig in Suhl. After his defeat in the Battle of Leipzig, Napoleon I is said to have stayed in the Lauterer inn.


After the Congress of Vienna, Suhl fell to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815, like the entire Saxon share in the former county of Henneberg. The office of Suhl was finally dissolved in 1821 and was part of the Schleusingen district in the Erfurt administrative district in the Prussian province of Saxony until 1945, with the district office being relocated from Schleusingen to Suhl from July 1, 1929.

Although there were still a few mines in Suhl at the beginning of the 19th century, this was not enough to keep the mining office in Suhl. In 1838 it was moved to Kamsdorf near Saalfeld.

With the industrialization of the gunsmithing trade in the 19th century, important arms factories such as J. P. Sauer & Sohn, C. G. Haenel and Simson & Co. developed in Suhl. In 1840 a training institute for military gunsmiths was opened in Suhl.

In the 1840s and 1850s, as part of the first efforts to open up railways in northern Franconia by Joseph Meyer and later the Hennebergischer Glashüttenverein (Hennebergia AG), several iron ore mines were muted in Suhl and sometimes operated with good yields, but the economic conditions of the operators were not permanently cheap.

In 1861 an important porcelain production started. In the three factories founded in Suhl and Mäbendorf in 1861, 1868 and 1882, over 1000 workers were employed at times. In the first few years they produced fired porcelain and later decorative porcelain. Porcelain production was stopped around 1930.

In 1882, Suhl was connected to the German railway network to the south, and after the completion of the Brandleitetunnel in 1884 to the north. In 1893 a shooting station was opened in Suhl, the first and therefore the oldest in Germany. As early as 1896 the production of bicycles was started in the Simson works. In 1906 car production began in Suhl. Racing cars and luxury cars from Simson-Werke, such as the Simson Supra, quickly gained an excellent reputation.

20th and 21st centuries
During the Kapp Putsch, Suhl was occupied by troops. The inscription on the town hall, “In the green forest, the red city that had a town hall shot to pieces” commemorates the expulsion of the militias by the workers' armed forces. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Reichswehr was equipped with Suhl weapons.

With the beginning of the National Socialist era, the persecution of political opponents and undesirable parts of the population was responded to by the formation of resistance groups: since 1933 the social-democratic Domberg round, the communist Regenberg community and since 1936 the Friedberg group. The FAUD local anarcho-syndicalist group also joined forces with the communist KAPD / AAU from Ruhla to form a black crowd.

In 1935 the "Aryanization" of Jewish property took place. This affected inter alia. the department store on the market and the Simson works, which were initially transferred to the Wilhelm Gustloff Foundation. The Suhl synagogue in the former Hohenlohestrasse (today the Strasse der Victims of Fascism), built from 1904 to 1906, fell victim to the November pogroms in 1938. A memorial stone has been commemorating the destruction since November 1985. Among the Suhl victims of the Holocaust are the 27 Jewish citizens who were deported to Poland in May 1942, and another 14 who were transported to Theresienstadt in September 1942.

In 1940 an aviation school was opened, in the buildings of which from 1951 to 1989 the district administration of the Ministry of State Security was housed.

As in most German cities, the industry was completely converted to arms and war production during World War II. There were around 10,000 forced laborers for every 20,000 inhabitants. Submachine guns and machine guns as well as measuring control devices for V-weapon production were manufactured in large numbers. Suhl was spared major air raids, as the existing war weapon production facilities in the city had been classified as insignificant by the Allies. But 25 American B-17 “Flying Fortress” got rid of their bombs on March 26, 1945 over the Fröhlicher Mann settlement in the north of Suhl and over an open field (Dörrenbachtal) from a height of 7200 meters. The target was the - not hit - track body. 31 people died, the Merry Man restaurant and 16 other houses were destroyed. Since dispersed SS units did not surrender to the US troops without a fight, war damage occurred in the city in early April 1945.


On April 3, 1945, units of the 3rd US Army under the command of General George S. Patton occupied the city. With the dissolution of the Prussian district government in Erfurt, Suhl was assigned to the state of Thuringia on July 1, 1945. On July 3, 1945, units of the Red Army took over the city on the basis of the 1st London Zone Protocol of 1944 and the decisions of the Yalta Conference. Suhl became part of the Soviet zone of occupation. In 1947, important works in the armaments industry were blown up (including Krieghoff) or transported to the Soviet Union as reparations (such as the Simson works). Important experts and skilled workers such as the designer Hugo Schmeisser (MP18, assault rifle 44) had already been brought to the Soviet Union the year before.

With the start of motorcycle production (AWO 425) in the Simson works, vehicle production experienced a revival in 1950. The Simson-Werke initially produced as a SMAD company under Soviet management, traded as the vehicle and equipment factory Simson Suhl from 1952, from 1968 as the vehicle and hunting weapons factory "Ernst Thälmann" and were later incorporated into the IFA combine.

In 1952, after the dissolution of the states in the GDR, Suhl became the district capital and remained so until reunification in 1990. The city center, which had grown over time, was largely demolished and redesigned in a socialist manner under the leadership of the GDR Building Academy under Hermann Henselmann. A new city center was created with a cultural center, town hall, high-rise buildings, expressway, a department store center and administrative buildings. The State Symphony Orchestra Suhl was founded in 1953 (from 1979: Thuringian Philharmonic Suhl).

Since May 12, 1967, Suhl has been an independent city.

A sports airfield was inaugurated in Suhl-Goldlauter in 1972, and the first major air day took place in the same year. In 1978 the city attracted international attention as the venue for the European shooting championships.

In 1984 an officers' college for the GDR border troops opened on the Suhler Friedberg (after 1990 industrial park and part of the Technical University of Ilmenau). In 1986, Suhl was the venue for the 8th European volleyball championships and the 44th world championships in sport shooting.

From September 1989, more and more people gathered in the Kreuzkirche and Marienkirche and demanded democratic rights and freedoms. The first large-scale demonstration on November 4, 1989 was a milestone in the democratic upheaval in Suhl. Since 1990 Suhl has belonged to the re-established Free State of Thuringia. The turnaround led to economic restructuring, unemployment, emigration and population decline.

The vocational school for gunsmiths opened in 1992 as the only school of its kind in Germany. Engravers have been training there since 1998. In 2001 the SRH Institute for Health Professions (IfG) started its work as a technical school for professions in the health sector.

In 1995 the Congress Centrum Suhl (CCS) was opened after the reconstruction of the former town hall. With the hall that can hold up to 5000 visitors and its range of events, the CCS plays an important role in the cultural offerings in Suhl and South Thuringia.

In 1996 a vehicle museum opened its doors in the former Simson factory. The Suhl Vehicle Museum, which reflects the 100-year tradition of vehicle construction in Suhl, has been located in the Suhl Congress Center since 2007.

In view of the high debt (70 million euros, as of 2010) and the steady decline in population of the city, the status of district freedom has been publicly discussed for a long time, but no concrete alternative has emerged so far.

Since the beginning of 2014, Suhl has been a state-approved resort and levies a tourist tax.


Geographical location

Suhl lies in a long valley in the south (at least 380 m above sea level) on the south to west edge of the Thuringian Forest. The city is surrounded by mountains between 650 and 983 m high.

In the northeast, the urban area includes part of the Rennsteig, as well as the peaks of the Großer Beerberg (983 m), the Schneekopf (978 m), the Großer Finsterberg (944 m), the Großer Eisenberg (907 m) and the Sachsenstein (915 m) with a. Finally, with the Gehlberg district, it borders the northern part of the Thuringian Forest and the Wild Gera Valley.
In the east, the core city area is bordered by peaks that belong to the Adlersberg massif (Großer Erleshügel 839 m, Ringberg 746 m, Beerberg 808 m, Großer Dröhberg about 730 m). Furthermore, the urban area extends here over the district of Vesser including the upper Vessertal to the district of Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig.
To the south joins the 671 m high Schleusinger Berg (or its Suhler Vor-peaks Steinsburg and Sommerberg) on ​​the Schneeberg up to 692 m high Small Thuringian Forest, which is already part of the Thuringian Forest-Buntsandstein-Vorland and in the west Suhls merges into significantly lower peaks.
Within the city, the Domberg (674.8 m), the mountain Hohe Loh (529 m) with the equally high secondary summit Hainberg and the Döllberg (760 m) are important.
Neighboring communities are the immediately adjoining town of Zella-Mehlis in the north (district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen), the community of Dillstädt in the west, Geratal, Elgersburg and Ilmenau (all three Ilm districts) in the east and the towns and communities of Schleusingen, Schmeheim and Oberstadt ( Hildburghausen district) in the south.

Part of the Suhl district touches the UNESCO Vessertal-Thuringian Forest biosphere reserve in the east.



Due to the geological situation on the edge of the Thuringian Forest, various mineral resources occur near Suhl.

Iron ores: Red iron ore, brown iron ore, magnetic iron ore in vein and sedimentary deposits almost throughout the city
Copper ores: copper pebbles, copper pechers, malachite in vein deposits, but also in acanthodes slate near Suhl-Goldlauter
Silver ores: pale ores and rarely solid silver in acanthodes slate; Silver grades of the gangue copper ores
Manganese ores: brown stone, black glass head in corridors
Uranium ores: Enrichment of uranium mica and pitchblende in Latvian layers of the red sandstone
Bituminous coal: coal-bearing shale in Permian sediments
Spat: violet fluorite, barite, calcite
Salt: highly enriched calcium chloride spring “Ottilienquelle”, redone in 2003
All mineral resources were mined until the middle / end of the 19th century, iron ores and spar until the beginning of the 20th century. Today they no longer play an economic role.

City structure
Suhl includes ten incorporated villages and the prefabricated housing complexes built in GDR times on the outskirts and the city center in the valley in the middle. They are listed in the list of districts of Suhl.

The towns of Dietzhausen, Wichtshausen and Vesser, which were incorporated in 1994, have their own postcodes and phone numbers:

Dietzhausen and Wichtshausen the postcode 98529 and the area code 036846,
Vesser the zip code 98528 and the area code 036782.
Like Vesser, the towns of Gehlberg and Schmiedefeld am Rennsteig, which were incorporated in 2019, have the postcode 98528.