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The Free State of Saxony

Industrial center of the east. With approximately 247 inhabitants per square kilometer, the Free State of Saxony is the most populous of the new states. It is a state with a long industrial tradition: Prior to the Second World War, the triangle formed by the cities of Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz was the industrial heart of Germany. Leipzig (457,000 inhabitants) was one of the main centers of peaceful resistance to the regime of the former GDR; the large Monday demonstrations culminated on 9 October 1989 in the chant: “We are the people!“ The fall of the Wall ushered in a massive restructuring of the Saxon economy. Today about 60 percent of the entire work force is employed in the service sector. A highly diversified and productive small and medium-sized business sector has emerged, comprised of more than 125,000 firms.

Industry nevertheless plays a more important role here than in the other new states: 7.3 percent of Saxony’s inhabitants are employed in the industrial sector, accounting for roughly 32 percent of the entire industrial production of the new states. The bulk of Saxony’s total industrial output (manufacturing industry) is generated by the food industry (18 percent), the mechanical engineering industry (14 percent), automobile manufacturing (13 percent), metal production and processing (12 percent), and manufacturing of data processing equipment and installations (11 percent); especially automobile manufacturing is in the midst of very dynamic development. At the same time, Dresden and the surrounding area are evolving into a center of the microelectronics industry.

The Meissen porcelain factory has been producing exquisite merchandise continuously since 1710. Its trademark crossed blue swords are known the world over. Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682-1719) discovered the formula for this “white gold“ in 1708 while working in his laboratory in Dresden.

The world’s first reflex camera was constructed in Dresden, and such everyday articles as the toothpaste tube, filter cigarettes, mouthwash, beer bottle caps and coffee filters were developed here as well.

With four universities in Leipzig, Freiberg, Dresden and Chemnitz, five Fachhochschulen in Dresden, Leipzig, Zittau/Görlitz, Mittweida and Zwickau, four colleges of art, the International Graduate School of Zittau and the Palucca School Dresden – Academy of Artistic Dance, Saxony has the most highly diversified network of higher education institutions in the new states. Small seminars, state-of-the-art research institutions and cooperation with business and industry ensure a high standard of education and training. This as well as the strong technical and scientific orientation of the state’s higher education institutions make Saxony a particularly attractive location for firms engaged in the development and distribution of technological products and systems. The Leipzig Graduate School of Management is the only private university in the new states.

“Florence on the Elbe“ and “Paris in miniature“. In the year 2006, Dresden (461,000 inhabitants) will celebrate the 800th anniversary of its founding. With this in mind, the state capital is presently undertaking great efforts to reconstruct part of its historic townscape, which was almost completely destroyed in World War II. More than 200 building cranes meanwhile dot the city, which in years past was affectionately called “Florence on the Elbe“ because of its architectural splendor and elegance; public and private investment in restoration and reconstruction currently exceeds DM 50 billion. The Opera House, built in the Italian Renaissance style in 1870-1878 according to the blueprints of Gottfried Semper, was reconstructed and reopened back in 1985. Taschenberg Palace owes its restoration to a private investor: Today it is a luxury hotel. Dresden is once again a magnet for tourists, drawing more than five million visitors each year. For nearly 50 years the ruins of the Baroque Church of Our Lady (built in 1726-1743 by George Bähr) served as a somber reminder of the horrors of war. It is now being reconstructed in an unparalleled endeavor financed largely by donations; upon its completion, approximately one third of the original stones will have been reset in their original positions. Another city landmark, the Royal Palace, is being reconstructed with the aid of public funds. Upon its completion, it will house a museum of Saxon history and art.

Leipzig, referred to in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust“ as “Paris in miniature“, has been a trade fair venue for more than 800 years. At a cost of about DM 1.3 billion, the former Mockau Airport was transformed into a modern trade exhibition complex that opened in 1996. Since time immemorial, Leipzig has been a center of the publishing industry; the book fair held here each year has established itself, along with the fair in Frankfurt am Main, as a key fair for contacts with Eastern Europe in particular. The university was founded as early as 1409; in 1993 it was endowed with the first German chair for public relations.

The traditional and the modern. Saxony has helped to write many a chapter of German cultural history. The composers Heinrich Schütz, Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Maria von Weber, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss lived, worked and performed famous pieces for the first time here. Today Leipzig’s Gewandhaus Orchestra and St. Thomas Choir as well as Dresden’s Staatskapelle, Kreuzchor and Semper Opera are internationally renowned, as are the conductor Kurt Masur and the trumpeter Ludwig Güttler. The state boasts a wide variety of museums: In Dresden, the Green Vault displays the exquisitely crafted treasures accumulated by the Saxon electors, especially Augustus II the Strong (1670-1733); priceless art collections are to be found in the Old Masters Gallery, where Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna“ is on view, and in the New Masters Gallery, which features outstanding works from the Romantic period. Also worthy of special mention are the lace museum in Plauen, the automobile museum in Zwickau, the museum of industry in Chemnitz, the mineralogical collection in Freiberg, the Lessing Museum in Kamenz, and the Sorbian Museum in Bautzen, the center of the Lusatian Sorbs, a Slavic minority.

Saxony has a wealth of magnificent palaces and elaborately landscaped parks and gardens, most of them dating from the Baroque period. Notable examples, in addition to the Dresden Zwinger, are Moritzburg Palace, Rammenau Palace, the moated Klaffenbach Palace, Pillnitz Palace and Pillnitz Park. Other tourist attractions include the “Silver Route“ in the Ore Mountains and the “Saxon Wine Route“ as well as festivals such as the Dresden Music Festival, the International Dixieland Festival and the Elbe Slope Festival in Dresden, the Karl May Festival in Radebeul, and the “Encounters“ days of culture in Chemnitz.

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State in the heart of Germany. Saxony-Anhalt stretches from the Altmark heathland, which borders the state of Lower Saxony to the north, across the fertile lowlands of the Magdeburger Börde and the industrial areas around Halle and Bitterfeld to the vineyards along the Saale and Unstrut rivers, the northernmost wine-growing region in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Elbe River flows through the state over a distance of about 300 kilometers. In the southwestern portion of the Magdeburger Börde rise the Harz Mountains; their highest peak is the Brocken (1,142 meters). Extensive and extraordinarily scenic landscape reserves include the Hochharz National Park and the Elbe Reserve, where beavers can still be found living in the wild. Saxony-Anhalt’s history as a state in its own right is brief: It existed only from 1947 to 1952 and was not reestablished until the unification of Germany on 3 October 1990. Some of its regions are among the oldest heartlands of German culture. The Altmark in the north was long under the influence of Brandenburg; the south and the east were dominated by Saxony. Anhalt was constituted in 1212 under the Ascanian princes and experienced its cultural zenith in the 18th century under Prince Leopold III of Anhalt-Dessau. The Russian empress Catherine the Great descended from the princes of Anhalt-Zerbst.

Cities taken from a picture book. First mentioned in a document dating from 805, the state capital Magdeburg (246,000 inhabitants) is the second largest city in this rather sparsely populated state. Here stands the first Gothic cathedral built on German soil: Dedicated in 1363, it contains the grave of Emperor Otto I. Magdeburg’s oldest structure is the Abbey of Our Lady, which was completed in 1160 and has survived the centuries virtually unchanged. The city of Halle (270,000 inhabitants), which prospered in the Middle Ages from salt extraction, is dominated by its cathedral, the Church of Our Lady and the Red Tower. In Dessau (90,100 inhabitants), Walter Gropius began setting global standards in architecture in 1925 with the “Bauhaus“. Especially picturesque are the Harz towns of Halberstadt, Wernigerode and Quedlinburg with their half-timber houses dating from the 16th18th centuries. Quedlinburg’s Old Town graced with more than 1,200 half-timber houses (which are now being renovated one by one) has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Of particular interest in the city of Naumburg is the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral with the donor figures Ekkehard and Uta dating from the 13th century. Spread out over an area of 112 hectares, Wörlitz Park near Dessau with the palace of Leopold III dedicated in 1773 is one of the most beautiful English-style gardens in Europe. A popular tourist attraction is the “Romanesque Route“, which winds through Saxony-Anhalt for about 1,000 kilometers and passes by more than 70 notable architectural monuments.

Agriculture and large-scale industry. The rich loess soils of the Magdeburger Börde and the Harz foreland are some of the most fertile farmland in Germany and have given rise to an extensive food industry (including sugar refineries). Principal crops are grain, sugar beets, potatoes and vegetables. Heavy machinery and vehicle construction play a dominant role in the economies of Magdeburg and Dessau. Major investments that have played a key role in shaping the state’s newly emerging economic structure include

Elf Aquitaine’s new oil refinery “Leuna 2000“;
the olefin complex Buna, Leuna, Böhlen of the U.S. corporation Dow Chemical; and
the cellulose plant near Stendal built by a Scandinavian-German consortium (Kvaerner, Thyssen, Klöckner).

At the Bitterfeld chemistry park, in the vicinity of major industrial newcomers such as Bayer Bitterfeld, Heraeus and Ausimont, some 350 small and mediumsized firms have established themselves as suppliers, processors or service providers.

The southern part of Saxony-Anhalt is thus carrying on a long and innovative industrial tradition. Here the Dessau Junkers works wrote industrial history with the manufacture of the first all-metal commercial aircraft and the JU 52, the most frequently built commercial aircraft of the 1930s. In 1936 Agfa Wolfen introduced the world’s first color film.

Music, art and scholarship. The annual Handel Festival in Halle draws music aficionados from all over the world. One of the most famous of the state’s 140 museums is the Moritzburg State Gallery, which features a large collection of paintings by the GermanAmerican painter Lyonel Feininger. The cathedral treasures of the Church of St. Servace in Quedlinburg are among the most valuable in Germany; stolen during World War II, they were returned to the church after a spectacular odyssey. Saxony-Anhalt was the heartland of the Reformation; to this very day visitors encounter many a testimony to the life and work of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon, especially in the “Luther towns“ of Wittenberg and Eisleben.

The Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg is the newest higher education institution in Germany. It was created in October 1993 by the merger of the Technical University, the College of Education and the Medical Academy. More than 12,000 students are registered at the over 300-year-old Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The College of Art and Design at Giebichenstein Castle in Halle is gaining increasing recognition.

Prominent individuals. Martin Luther (1483-1546) was born in Eisleben and died there as well. He was laid to rest in the castle church in Wittenberg, to the door of which he had nailed his Ninety-five Theses in 1517. Working at Falkenstein Castle in the 13th century, Eike von Repgow wrote the “Sachsenspiegel“ (Saxon Mirror), the most important compilation of medieval law. The “Merseburg Charms“, two linguistic monuments written in Old High German, date from the 10th century.

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Georg Philipp Telemann was a native of Magdeburg, and Johann Sebastian Bach composed his “Brandenburg Concertos“ at the royal court in Köthen. Kurt Weill, one of the most expressive composers of our century, came from Dessau.

The scientist Otto von Guericke, who for a time was mayor of Magdeburg, discovered the principle underlying the air pump and demonstrated the effect of a vacuum using his “Magdeburg hemispheres“ in 1663. Quedlinburg was the birthplace of the first German woman doctor, Dorothea Christiana Erxleben, who earned her doctorate in 1754 at the university in Halle. Otto von Bismarck, German Reich Chancellor from 1871 to 1890, was born in Schönhausen in 1815; a Bismarck Museum was opened there in 1998 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death.

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Hub of the Baltic region. Schleswig-Holstein is the only German state bordered by two seas: the North Sea and the Baltic. The sparsely populated state (2.7 million inhabitants) makes the most of its geographical location between Scandinavia and Eastern Europe: It is a hub for the countries encircling the Baltic Sea, which with a total population of more than 50 million constitute one of Europe’s regions of the future. In order to preserve Schleswig-Holstein’s natural beauty, great importance is accorded to environmental protection measures. Efforts to keep the seas clean as well as nature and soil conservation measures are therefore key priorities of state policy.

Forever undivided. As early as 1460, a treaty stated that the region’s two parts, Schleswig and Holstein, should remain “forever undivided“. In Schleswig-Holstein not only German and the dialect Low German are spoken but Frisian and Danish as well. The Frisians, an ethnic group numbering 40,000, live on the state’s western coast with its many outlying islands. Some 50,000 Danes live in Schleswig-Holstein, a fact attributable to Denmark’s role in the region’s history. As a consequence of this mixture of nationalities, the state has a cosmopolitan attitude toward visitors: Approximately 13 million people come here every year.

Cities with long-standing traditions. Every summer during “Kiel Week“, the state capital Kiel (244,000 inhabitants) is the meeting place for the international sailing elite and the venue of the popular cultural festival held in conjunction with the regatta. Shipbuilding and ferry traffic – especially to Scandinavia – are just as much a part of the city as the imposing sailing ship “Gorch Fock“, a training ship which documents Kiel’s close ties to the navy. Lübeck (216,000 inhabitants), the “Queen of the Hanseatic League“ graced with many notable medieval buildings, has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The novels of Lübeck’s famous sons Heinrich and Thomas Mann rank among the world’s great literary works. Lübeck-Travemünde is one of Europe’s most important ferry ports. Once a year, meticulously restored sailing ships and replicas converge in Flensburg (86,600 inhabitants) for the “Rum Regatta“.

An economy in transition. In recent years SchleswigHolstein has undergone a profound structural transformation from a region based on agriculture and fisheries to a modern location for business, industry and technology. The shipbuilding industry, which at one time dominated the economy of the state capital Kiel in particular, survived the structural crisis by focusing on construction of specialized ships. Approximately one million hectares of the state’s land are given over to farming; the future, however, belongs to modern technologies such as marine and medical technologies, software production, and energy and environmental technologies. With more than 1,500 wind turbines, Schleswig-Holstein is Germany’s numberone supplier of wind power. It also ranks near the top in terms of technology centers and boasts well over 1,000 firms in the information and communications sector (software) alone. At the same time, the state has taken action to create the necessary infrastructure. Autobahns form not only the important north-south axis; links with the west coast are equally important for tourism, business and industry. Three universities as well as four public and two private Fachhochschulen furnish ample in-state facilities for training young scholars and scientists. All of the above have helped to solidify Schleswig-Holstein’s acknowledged strong position in relation to the other states as an attractive site for business and industry.

“Gentle tourism“. The North Sea island of Helgoland with its famous red cliffs was the backdrop for the poet August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841 when he wrote the German anthem. The North Frisian Islands of Sylt, Föhr and Amrum are a vacationer’s paradise; the same is true of the resorts on the Baltic such as Damp, Hohwacht and Timmendorf. Nature lovers are drawn to the tidal mud flats of the Wattenmeer National Park on the North Sea. Farther inland lies the scenic area known as “Holstein Switzerland“ with its many lakes. Well worth a visit are places such as Mölln, the town of the legendary jester Till Eulenspiegel, or the cathedral town of Schleswig with the Late Gothic Bordesholm Altarpiece, a masterpiece of woodcarving created in 1514-1521 by Hans Brüggemann, and of course the city of Lübeck.

Museums and music. Every town of any size has its own museum of local history, but the regional museum in Gottorf Palace near Schleswig enjoys a particularly high reputation nationwide. Other notable attractions are the Molfsee Open-Air Museum near Kiel, which offers a glimpse of what country life was like years ago, and the museum on the site of the old Viking town Haithabu. For eight weeks during the summer – 1998 marked the 13th year in succession – the entire state of Schleswig-Holstein is transformed into a concert hall. The Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, established at the initiative of the pianist Justus Frantz with the assistance of the state government, entices international stars and audiences to such unusual settings as barns and stalls – but also to estates, manor houses and palaces. Many prominent literary figures, too, have chosen to live in Schleswig-Holstein, among them Günter Grass, Günter Kunert, Siegfried Lenz and Sarah Kirsch.

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The Free State of Thuringia

Germany’s center. Thuringia lies in the geographical center of Germany and encompasses as its heartland the bowl-shaped Thuringian Basin and the Thuringian Forest. It stretches westward to the Werra River and southeastward past the Saale River to the Weisse Elster River. To the southwest lies the Rhön, and in the south the state abuts the Franconian Forest. Thuringia neighbors five states; further improvement and enlargement of the transportation network is consequently one of the state government’s paramount objectives. The autobahns A 4 and A 9, which traverse Thuringia in a west-east and north-south direction respectively, are presently being widened to six lanes. With the construction of a new traffic axis through the Thuringian Forest (an autobahn and a stretch of track for high-speed trains), an urgently needed link is being created, one which will do justice to Thuringia’s central location and which would have been completed much earlier had Germany not been divided. Erfurt (208,000 inhabitants), the state capital, is referred to as the “city of flowers“. The old part of the city is graced with an unusually large number of patrician homes, churches and monasteries which virtually make it an architectural open-air museum.

Territorial fragmentation and culture. Thuringia was particularly affected by Germany’s earlier territorial fragmentation. The region’s rulers competed intensely with one another, especially in the cultural sphere, and took great pride in their role as patrons of the fine arts. By far the most prominent among them was Duke Carl August of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach (1757-1828). He brought to his court the poet and translator of Shakespeare’s works Christoph Martin Wieland (1733-1813), the poet and philologist Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), and above all Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Thus at that time, around 1800, Weimar became a center of German and European intellectual life. In this city Goethe wrote some of his most famous works, including the final version of “Faust“. Weimar was also home to Friedrich von Schiller from 1787 to 1789 and from 1799 to 1805. Here he wrote, among other works, his “William Tell“. In the second half of the 19th century, Franz Liszt (1811-1886) composed and gave concerts in this city distinctive for its keen appreciation of the fine arts. Here, in 1919, Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus, a school of architecture which sought to overcome the divisions between art, handicraft and technology. In 1925 the Bauhaus moved to Dessau, and a few years later to Berlin. There, in 1933, it fell victim to the barbarity that followed Hitler’s seizure of power and sealed the fate of the first German republic, the Weimar Republic, whose constitution had been drafted and adopted in Weimar in 1919.

Weimar (62,000 inhabitants) has been selected as the Cultural City of Europe for the year 1999, the 250th anniversary of Goethe’s birth. Johann Sebastian Bach, the scion of a renowned family of musicians, was born in Eisenach in 1685. Ensconced in the nearby Wartburg in 1522, Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German – a key step in the development of the modern German literary language. Thuringia marked the 450th anniversary of the reformer’s death with a “Luther Year 1996“. Meeting at the Wartburg in 1817, representatives of patriotic student groups known as “Burschenschaften“ called for a united Germany.

Industry and crafts. In Thuringia, where important roads intersected, commerce and the craft trades found favorable conditions for growth. Woad, a plant yielding blue coloring matter, brought the region early prosperity. A tradition of weapons craftsmanship led Suhl to become the “armorer’s workshop“ for hunting and sporting guns. The industrialization of Germany in the 19th century began in Saxony and Thuringia; important branches were mining (potash), porcelain, glass, toys, and above all machine tools and the optical industry associated with the names Zeiss and Schott in Jena.

Thuringia has once again picked up the thread of these old traditions. In the wake of the wrenching economic changes brought on by the fall of the Wall and the end of the GDR, new structures in line with market conditions have been developed which make it possible to attract future-oriented technologies to the Free State of Thuringia. Since the restructuring of JENOPTIK, for instance, the firm has grown to become a successful high-tech group with international operations. With four universities (in Jena, Weimar, Erfurt and Ilmenau), a number of Fachhochschulen, roughly 50 research institutions and 20 technology centers, Thuringia now has a strong academic and scientific base. Jena (100,000 inhabitants) continues to be the heart of the optical industry. Machinery is manufactured above all in Gera (121,000 inhabitants) and Erfurt. The state capital is also a center for microelectronics. In Eisenach the traditional automobile industry with its suppliers predominates; the new Opel plant there has the highest productivity of any automobile plant in Europe. Other major industries in Thuringia are the electronics, glass, fine ceramics, wood processing, textile, clothing and chemical industries.

Half of Thuringia’s land area is given over to farming; some of its farmland has soil of the highest quality. Important crops are grain, rape, potatoes and sugar beets. Since time immemorial, Thuringia has also enjoyed an excellent reputation for the processing of agricultural products into foods for human consumption.

Germany’s “green heart“. Extensive forests and broad expanses of fields as well as romantic valleys and gorges make the Thuringian Forest an attractive hiking and winter sports area. The Rennsteig, which runs along the crest of the ridge of the Thuringian Forest for a length of 168 kilometers, is – next to the Eselsweg in the Spessart region – Germany’s oldest and most famous hiking path. The state’s wealth of medicinal and mineral springs has fostered the growth of many health resorts. Approximately 170 artificial lakes afford optimal conditions for water sports enthusiasts. Of course visitors are also drawn to Thuringia by its rich cultural heritage. The 300-kilometer-long “Thuringian Classical Route“, which was opened in 1992, takes people to the state’s most beautiful spots, to castles and palaces, to museums and memorials – always calling to mind the time when Thuringia was the center of German intellectual life.

Meiningen is once again the home of a flourishing theater; in the 19th century, this city became famous throughout Europe for its court theater troupe “The Meiningen Company“. Its spectacular success was attributable to the patronage of the local sovereign, Duke George II of Saxe-Meiningen, who also directed the company. Today this theater is one of the most popular in Germany.

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