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(līp`tsĭkh), city (1994 pop. 490,850), Saxony, E central Germany, at the confluence of the Pleisse, White Elster, and Parthe rivers.


One of Germany's major industrial, commercial, and transportation centers, it has many rail lines and two airports. Manufactures include textiles, electrical products, automobiles, machine tools, and chemicals. The city harbors major industries in heavy construction and engineering. The area is heavily polluted with sulfur dioxide from nearby coal-processing plants. Important international trade and industrial fairs have been held in the city since the Middle Ages.

Points of Interest

Noteworthy buildings include the Church of St. Thomas (late 15th cent.), which has housed the tomb of Bach since 1950; the Gewandhaus, built in 1884 to replace the earlier structure; the 13th-century Pauline Church; Auerbach's Keller (16th cent.), an inn in which a scene of Goethe's Faust is set; the old city hall (1558); the old stock exchange (1682); the Church of St. John (17th cent.); the large main railroad station; the former German supreme court building (which now houses an art museum); and the opera (1960). In addition to the university (est. 1409), the city has institutes of applied radioactivity and stable isotopes.


Originally a Slavic settlement called Lipsk, Leipzig was chartered at the end of the 12th cent. and rapidly developed into a commercial center located at the intersection of important trade routes. A printing industry, which later became important, was started there c.1480. The city was the scene of the famous religious debate between Martin Luther, Carlstadt, and Johann Eck in 1519. In 1539 it accepted the Reformation. Three great battles of the Thirty Years War (two at BreitenfeldBreitenfeld
, village, Saxony, S central E Germany. It gave its name to two battles of the Thirty Years War. Gustavus Adolphus (Gustavus II) of Sweden there defeated the imperial forces under Count Johannes Tilly and Marshal Gottfried Pappenheim in 1631, and the Swedes under
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 and one at LützenLützen
, town, Saxony, S central Germany. There, in the Thirty Years War, Gustavus II of Sweden defeated (1632) General Albrecht Wallenstein, but was killed in the battle; Marshal Gottfried zu Poppenheim, on the imperial side, was also mortally wounded.
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) were fought near Leipzig.

The city was one of the leading cultural centers of Europe in the age of the philosopher and mathematician Leibnitz, who was born there in 1646, and of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who was cantor at the Church of St. Thomas from 1723 until his death. The Univ. of Leipzig (founded 1409) became one of the most important in Germany. In the 18th cent. Gottsched, Gellert, Schiller, and many others made Leipzig a literary center; the young Goethe studied there in 1765. The city's musical reputation reached its peak in the 19th and early 20th cent. Felix Mendelssohn, who died there in 1847, made the Gewandhaus concerts (begun in the 18th cent. in a former guildhouse and still continuing) internationally famous. Robert Schumann worked in Leipzig, Richard Wagner was born there in 1813, and the Leipzig Conservatory (founded by Mendelssohn in 1842–43) became one of the world's best-known musical academies.

The battle of Leipzig, Oct. 16–19, 1813, also called the Battle of the Nations, was a decisive victory of the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian forces over Napoleon I. On Oct. 16 the Prussians under General Blücher defeated the French under Auguste de Marmont at Möckern, near Leipzig. A peace offer by the vastly outnumbered French army was rejected on the following day while the Allies closed in. On Oct. 18 the French were driven to the gates of Leipzig, and most of their Saxon and Württemberg auxiliaries (but not the king of Saxony himself) passed over to the enemy camp. Leipzig was stormed on Oct. 19, and Napoleon's forces began their flight across Germany and beyond the Rhine. It is estimated that 120,000 men (of both sides) were killed or wounded in the battle. Allied losses were heavier than those of the French. The battle is commemorated by a large monument in the city.

Until World War II, Leipzig was the center of the German book and music publishing industry, and the center of the European trade in furs and smoked foods. The city (including the book-trade quarter) was badly damaged in World War II. In Oct., 1989, Leipzig was the site of the largest demonstration against the East German government since 1953; the demonstration was instrumental in the downfall of the Communist government and the subsequent reunification of Germany.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a district in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Area, 4,960 sq km; population, 1,483,700 (1971). Administrative center, Leipzig.

Leipzig District is one of the most industrially developed and densely settled districts of the country. Industry and trades employ 51.2 percent of the gainfully employed population; agriculture, forestry, and aquiculture, 9.5 percent (1971). The district provides 9 percent of the industrial product of the GDR. There is brown-coal industry and, associated with it, the production of brown-coal briquettes, as well as chemical industry, power engineering, and heavy machine building. Most of the industrial installations are concentrated in the city of Leipzig; enterprises producing briquettes are located in Borna and Böhlen; there are plants producing liquid fuel in Böhlen; and there are plants for the chemical processing of coal in Meuselwitz and Altenburg. The textile, food, tobacco, printing, and fur industries are developed. In the southwestern part of the district plantings of wheat, sugar beets, fodder crops, and vegetables predominate; in the northeastern portion there are plantings of rye, oats, and potatoes. There is highly productive dairy cattle raising and hog raising. Forests cover 13.5 percent of the area. There is a dense network of means of transportation and communication; there is navigation on the Elbe River (the port of Torgau).




a city in the southern German Democratic Republic (GDR). Administrative center of Leipzig District. Population, 580,700 (1971). Situated on the Weisse Elster, at its confluence with the Pleisse. One of the largest industrial, commercial, and cultural centers of the country. Rail and highway junction. There is an airport (Mockau).

During the years of socialist construction in the GDR much work has gone into reconstructing the city’s economy. Many industrial installations, cultural buildings, and scientific, scholarly, and administrative institutions have been modernized or rebuilt.

Machine building has been developed in Leipzig (the S. M. Kirow Mining and Metallurgical Equipment Plant, a plant for loading and transport equipment, and plants for agricultural and textile machine building, machine tools, food and printing equipment, etc.), and the printing and fur industries have become famous outside the country. Leipzig is a great publishing center. The houses of Brockhaus, Bibliografisches Institut, Breitkopf und Härtel, and others have long traditions, and under the people’s regime new publishing houses have arisen, including Verlag Enzyklopädie. Leipzig is a center of international trade, with international fairs every spring and fall. Important scientific institutes and schools, including the University of Leipzig, are located here. There are higher schools of music, theater, literature, graphics and book design, physical culture, and pedagogy, among others. The Academy of Sciences of Saxony is in the city, as are the German Library and University Library. Museums include the V. I. Lenin, K. Liebknecht, G. Dimitrov, Iskra Printing Plant, Fine Arts, and History of the City of Leipzig museums, as well as museums of ethnography, books and type, and handicrafts. The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Thomanerchor (a boys’ choir) are famous; there is an opera theater and the Schauspielhaus dramatic theater. The International Film Festival of Documentary Short Subjects has been held annually in Leipzig since 1955.

First mentioned as a fortified point in 1015, Leipzig developed from the Slavic settlement of Lipsk (from lipa, “lime tree,” hence the name Leipzig) and a settlement of German colonists. In the second half of the 12th century it received city status from the margrave of Meissen. Leipzig was situated at the intersection of important trade routes from the 13th to 15th centuries, and it became a major economic center, one of the main cities of Saxony. By the Middle Ages the Leipzig fairs and, from the late 15th century, printing had become very important. Battles took place in the environs of Leipzig at Breitenfeld (1631 and 1642) and Lützen (1632), and the Battle of Leipzig was fought in 1813. Leipzig was one of the centers of the German workers’ movement. In 1863 the General German Workers’ Union was founded there. A council of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies was formed in Leipzig during the November Revolution of 1918. The first issue of the newspaper Iskra was published in Leipzig; V. I. Lenin stayed in the city several times. A trial of communists falsely accused of setting fire to the Reichstag was organized by the German fascists and took place in Leipzig in 1933.

During World War II the city was heavily damaged by AngloAmerican air raids.

A ring of streets (the “Ring”) surrounds the historical core of Leipzig, with a network of narrow streets and the Alter Markt at the center. Of architectural importance are the Romanesque-Gothic Church of St. Nicholas (13th to 16th centuries; interior rebuilt in 1784–97), the Gothic Church of St. Thomas (13th to 15th centuries), and Renaissance buildings by the architect H. Lotter on the Alter Markt—the Old Weights (1555) and the Old Rathaus (begun in 1556); there are also the Old Stock Exchange in the baroque style (1678; architect H. Richter) and 16th- to 18th-century residences.

Huge buildings in an eclectic style were constructed in the 19th century (the Imperial Court, now the G. Dimitrov Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, 1888–95; architect L. Hoffmann), and industrial buildings, the railroad station (1915–17; architects W. Lossow and M. Kühne), the Great Fair Hall (1927–30; architect H. Ritter), and the Battle of Nations Monument (1898–1913; height, more than 90 m; architect B. Schmitz; sculptor F. Metzner) were built in the 20th century.

After 1945 much work was done to reconstruct the city, restore buildings of architectural importance, and modernize a number of sections, including the center; portions of the Ring and the Markt were rebuilt, and construction was undertaken at Karl Marx University (including the High Building, 142 m, 1969–73; architects H. Henselmann, H. Siegel, and others), the fairgrounds, the Opera Theater (1956–60; architects H. Hemmerling and K. Nierade), the Fair Building (1961–63; architects F. Gebhardt, W. Scheibe, and R. Vollschwitz), the Higher School of Physical Culture (1952, architects H. Hopp and K. Nierade; 1961–63, architects E. Jackowski and W. Assmann), the Stadt Leipzig Hotel (1963–65; architects M. Böhme, H. Hönig, and Z. Kurt), and the Fur Center (1965–66; architects W. Schreiner and G. Seltz). West of the center, near the artificial Elsterbecken reservoir, there is a new stadium with a swimming pool.


Leipzig: Stadt von Vielfalt. Edited by F. Donath. Leipzig, 1957.
Goebel, C. R. Leipzig. [Leipzig] 1963.
Bibliographie zur Geschichte der Stadt Leipzig, vol. 1. Leipzig, 1971. [14.809–1]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in E central Germany, in Saxony: famous fairs, begun about 1170; publishing and music centre; university (1409); scene of a decisive defeat for Napoleon Bonaparte in 1813. Pop.: 497 531 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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