Ger. Sachsen, state (1990 est. pop. 4,970,000), 6,561 sq mi (16,993 sq km), E Germany. DRESDEN is its capital; other important cities are CHEMNITZ and LEIPZIG. Saxony was originally the land of the SAXONS, which in Frankish times was in NW Germany. In the 9th cent. the first duchy of Saxony, one of the five stem duchies of medieval Germany, was created. The duchy was broken up after Holy Roman Emperor FREDERICK I ousted (1180) HENRY THE LION from the fief. In 1356 the duke of Saxe-Wittenburg was made a permanent elector of the Empire. His territory, called Electoral Saxony, lay east of the original stem duchy. In 1425 it passed to the WETTIN family. It was a center of the German REFORMATION in the 16th cent. In 1697 the elector of Saxony became king of Poland as AUGUSTUS II. The death (1763) of his son, AUGUSTUS III, ended the union with Poland. The period 1697 to 1763 was one of cultural and artistic flowering in Saxony and in its capital, Dresden. Saxony had retained the Polish crown in the War of the POLISH SUCCESSION (1733-35) but lost prestige in the War of the AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION (1740-48) and the SEVEN YEARS WAR (1756-63). Saxony was raised (1806) to a kingdom by NAPOLEON I in return for changing sides (1806) in the FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY WARS, but after his defeat it lost nearly half of its land to Prussia. The remaining kingdom of Saxony was defeated by Prussia in the AUSTRO-PRUSSIAN WAR (1866) and joined the German Empire in 1871. Under the Weimar Republic it became (1918) the state of Saxony. In 1949 it became part of East Germany. It was abolished as an administrative unit in 1952 but reconstituted upon German reunification (1990).
|Weimar, city in central Germany, in Thüringen, on the Ilm River.
Weimar is a railroad junction, and factories in the city manufacture textiles, paper,
machinery, automobiles, musical instruments, electrical equipment, glass, and shoes.
Weimar projects a medieval quality, with its many narrow streets and old, gabled houses,
and it is the site of numerous architectural landmarks.
During most of the 18th century and the first decade of the 19th, the city was the foremost cultural center of Germany and the residence of such outstanding literary figures as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Gottfried von Herder, Friedrich von Schiller, and Christoph Martin Wieland. Noteworthy architectural landmarks include the parish church, dating from the 15th century, largely reconstructed in the 18th century, and containing an altarpiece executed by the German painter and etcher Lucas Cranach the Elder; the Red and Green castles, dating from the 16th and 18th centuries, respectively; the former grand ducal palace, which was built under Goethe's direction (1789-1803); Goethe's home, now a museum, and his summer cottage, at the edge of a beautiful park; Schiller's residence; and the state theater (replaced in 1907 by a new building), where the Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt was musical director (1848-1859), and where many operas by Richard Wagner were performed. Among the city's cultural treasures are the Goethe-Schiller archives and the archives of the German philosopher and poet Friedrich Nietzsche. Weimar is the site of numerous educational institutions.
Weimar was founded by the 10th century. After varying periods under the control of counts and landgraves, it became a possession of the Ernestine branch of the house of Wettin in 1485. In 1547 the city was made the capital of the duchy of Saxe-Weimar. In 1919, following World War I, the German National Assembly, meeting in Weimar, established the German Republic, known also as the Weimar Republic, and drafted a democratic constitution. Weimar became the capital of the newly created state of Thüringen in 1920. During World War II (1939-1945), the National Socialist government of Germany (see National Socialism) operated one of the largest and most notorious concentration camps in nearby Buchenwald. A national memorial occupies the site. Population (1997) 62,233.