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Magdeburg(mäk`dəbo͝orkh), city (1994 pop. 270,546), capital of Saxony-Anhalt, central Germany, on the Elbe River. It is a large inland port, an industrial center, and a rail and road junction. Manufactures include metal products, textiles, and chemicals. The city is a food processing center, primarily in sugar refining and flour milling. There are lignite and potash mines nearby. Known in 805, Magdeburg became, under Emperor Otto I, an outpost for the colonization of the Wendish territories. In 968 it was made an archiepiscopal see. The archbishops of Magdeburg ruled a large territory as princes of the Holy Roman Empire. The city of Magdeburg obtained from them (13th cent.) a charter that was the model for hundreds of medieval town charters in Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Poland. Under this Magdeburg Law a town governed itself through an elected council, had its own courts of justice, and was exempt from all duties except the payment of rent to the prince of the land. Magdeburg prospered and became one of the chief members of the Hanseatic League. It accepted (1524) the Reformation, joined (1531) the Schmalkaldic LeagueSchmalkaldic League
, alliance formed in 1531 at Schmalkalden by Protestant princes and delegates of free cities. It was created in response to the threat (1530) by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to stamp out Lutheranism.
..... Click the link for more information. , and continued its resistance against Emperor Charles V until its fall (1551) to Maurice of Saxony. The archbishops were converted to Protestantism, and the family, members of the house of Brandenburg, ruled the archbishopric as administrators. The Magdeburg Centuries, the first comprehensive history of Protestantism, was edited there in the late 16th cent. During the Thirty Years War the imperial forces laid siege to Magdeburg in 1630. On May 20, 1631, the imperial troops under Tilly and Pappenheim stormed the city and put the garrison to the sword. Fires mysteriously broke out in various quarters, and by the following day virtually the entire city had burned down. Roughly 25,000 persons (about 85% of the city's population) perished in the conflagration and the sacking. The sack of Magdeburg produced an immense impression and caused the Protestant princes to conclude a closer alliance. The city was rebuilt and its trade revived after the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which transferred both the city and the archbishopric (which was secularized and made a duchy) to the electorate of Brandenburg. From the late 17th cent. Magdeburg was an important Prussian fortress. The city was severely damaged in World War II. Historic landmarks of Magdeburg include an 11th-century Romanesque church and the 13th-century cathedral. The city is the birthplace of Otto von Guericke (1602–86), the physicist and inventor of the Magdeburg hemispheres (which demonstrate air pressure); the composer G. P. Telemann (1681–1767); and Baron von Steuben (1730–94), the Prussian general who fought in the American Revolutionary War.
a district (Bezirk) in the German Democratic Republic, lying in the southern part of the Central European Plain, partly in the Harz Mountains. Area, 11,500 sq km. Population, 1.3 million (1971). The administrative center is Magdeburg. It is a highly developed industrial and agricultural region, with industry and crafts employing 42.4 percent of the work force and agriculture and forestry 19.0 percent (1971). The heavy machine building industry accounts for one-fifth of the country’s total output of heavy machinery. The largest enterprises are the Magdeburg Heavy Machine Building Combine and the G. Dimitrov plant, also in Magdeburg. The West Combine in Kalbe produces cast iron, and rolled products are made in Ilsenburg. Mineral resources include brown coal and potassium salts (Stassfurt), the basis of the chemical industry. There are sugar refineries and meat and vegetable canneries. Wheat, sugar beets, fodder crops, and vegetables are cultivated on the chernozem soils west of Magdeburg, and rye, oats, and potatoes are grown elsewhere. Also important are dairying and the raising of pigs and sheep (mainly in the Harz Mountains). There is navigation along the Elbe River and the Mittelland Canal.
A. I. MUKHIN
a city in the German Democratic Republic and the administrative center of the Magdeburg District (Bezirk ). Population, 271,900 (1971). An important highway and railroad junction and a port on the Elbe River near its intersection with the Mittelland and Elbe-Havel canals, Magdeburg is a major industrial and commercial transport center. The chief industry is heavy machine building, represented by the Ernst Thalmann Magdeburg Heavy Machine Building Combine and the K. Liebknecht and G. Dimitrov plants. Other branches include general machine building; production of equipment for the chemical, food, and light industries; manufacture of farm machinery and instruments; and river shipbuilding, in the suburb of Rothensee. There are also chemical and food-processing enterprises (sugar, meat). Magdeburg is an important cultural center. Its educational institutions include a medical academy, an advanced school for heavy machine construction, and schools for applied arts and water use management.
First mentioned in sources in 805, the city became the center of the Magdeburg Archbishopric in 968 and played an important part in the Christianization and germanization of the Polabian and Baltic Slavs. Here developed the first European municipal law code, the Magdeburg law, which was widely used throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The rich merchants of Magdeburg played a leading role in the Hanseatic League. In 1524, the city accepted the Reformation. Almost totally destroyed in May 1631 during the Thirty Years War (1618-48), the city was rebuilt and flourished under the mayor O. Guericke (1646-81). It passed to the Prussian electors of Brandenburg in 1680, emerging as a major industrial center in the 19th century. During World War II an illegal antifascist group affiliated with A. Saefkow’s organization operated in the city. In January 1945 it was heavily damaged by Anglo-American bombings. After the war it was part of the Soviet zone of occupied Germany until 1949.
Magdeburg developed around two parallel streets and the Old Bridge across the Elbe. An important architectural monument is the early Gothic Cathedral of St. Maurice and St. Catherine (1209-1520), containing 12th-century bronze funerary sculpture, rich 13th-century stone sculpture, and 15th-century murals. The Romanesque Liebfrauenkirche (1064-1160) has Gothic arches dating from 1220-30. The city has been intensively built up in the 20th century. B. Taut, the city’s chief architect from 1921 to 1924, designed various housing projects and the meeting hall (1922, with J. Goderitz). Reconstruction was undertaken after 1948; noteworthy new buildings are the complex on Centralerplatz (1954; architects, E. Hinsche and J. Kramer) and the International Hotel (1963; architect, H. Scharlipp). A project to build up the center of the city was begun in 1969 (architect, H. Michalk).