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The German State Theatre in Brünn.
The 'German House' with statue of Kaiser Josef II in Brünn.

Brünn is the capital of Moravia which until 1919 was part of the Austrian Crown Lands for centuries. The city lies 690 feet above sea level in a beautiful fertile region at the foot of the Spielberg mountain, between the Schwarzawa and the Zwittawa rivers. Today Moravia is part of the Czech republic.

Originally Celts lived in this vicinity along with other tribes until the 6th century when Slav tribes began to migrate from the east. Brünn was an important place as early as the 9th century. By the 1200s German colonisation stimulated the growth of the community and Brünn was incorporated under German municipal town laws in 1243. There was a great fortress erected here by the Margraves of Moravia which over the centuries withstood many sieges. In the 19th century it became an Austrian military hospital, and part of the fort was used as a prison, often for political prisoners.[1]

During Austrian rule the city was greatly developed becoming one of the chief manufacturing places in the Empire, especially for cloth. The cramped and angular old town is surrounded with promenades and handsome boulevards, beyond which are substantial suburbs. In 1905 the estimated population was 110,000[2], and in 1983 it had risen to 378,722.[3]

In 1919 Brünn found itself in the new artificial state[4][5][6] of Czechoslovakia.

From 1939-May 1945 the city was in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

On the 8 April 1945 one month before the end of World War II the Soviet air force bombed Brünn. Anti-aircraft fire shot down two of their number.[7]

The inhabitants of Brünn remained predominantly German (Austrian) until the brutal expulsions in 1945, during which the Czech communists and nationalists together committed horrific atrocities and murders against them.[8][9][10]


  • Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), a Silesian monk, natural scientist and geneticist, worked on his theory of heredity in 1865 in the monastery at Brünn.
  • Leo Janácek (b.1854 in Hockwald - d.1928), Moravian composer, Brünn was his lifetime home.
  • Archduke Friedrich von Habsburg (1856-1936), Supreme Commander of Austro-Hungarian forces in The Great War was born at Schloss Gross-Seelowitz near Brünn.
  • Erhard Raus (1889-1956) officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army and later a General in the Wehrmacht was born in Brünn, Moravia, Austria-Hungary.


  1. Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Micropaedia" vol.2, 15th edition, Chicago, 1990, p.535.
  2. Baedeker, Karl, Austria-Hungary, Leipzig, 1905, p.261-4.
  3. Micropaedia 1990, p.535.
  4. Donald, Sir Robert, G.B.E., LL.B., The Tragedy of Trianon, London, 1928, pps: 25-6, 57-8.
  5. de Colonna, Count Bertram, Czecho-Slovakia Within, London, 1938, p.9.
  6. Taylor, A.J.P., The Origins of the Second World War, London, 1961, p.201.
  7. Trevor-Roper, Professor Hugh, The Goebbels Diaries - The Last Days, Secker & Warburg, London, 1978, p.327, ISBN: 0-436-17966-0
  8. Schieder, Professor Theodor, editor-in-chief, The Expulsions of the German Population from Czechoslovakia, published by the German Federal Ministry for Expellees, Refugees and War Victims, Bonn, 1960.
  9. Dedina, Sidonia, Edvard Benes, The Liquidator, RFP publications, Mountain View, California, USA, 2001, ISBN: 0-9663968-4-7. (German-language edition published in Dinkelsbühl, Germany, 2000, ISBN: 3-930648-32-6)