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City hall of Leipzig
City hall of Leipzig
Coat of arms of Leipzig
Leipzig is located in Germany
Coordinates 51°20′0″N 12°23′0″E / 51.333333°N 12.383333°E / 51.333333; 12.383333
Country Germany
State Saxony
Admin. region Leipzig
District Urban district
Lord Mayor Burkhard Jung (SPD)
Basic statistics
Area 297.60 km2
Population 518,862 (31 December 2009)[1]
 - Density 1,743 /km2 (4,516 /sq mi)
 - Urban 996,100
 - Metro 3,500,000 
Other information
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Licence plate L
Postal codes 04001-04357
Area code 0341
Website www.leipzig.de

Leipzig is the largest city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany and in the New states of Germany. It was after East Berlin the largest city in Middle Germany before German partial unification.



Leipzig's name is derived from the Slavic word Lipsk, which means "settlement where the lime trees stand".[2]

First documented in 1015 in the chronicles of Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg and endowed with city and market privileges in 1165 by Otto the Rich, Leipzig has fundamentally shaped the history of Saxony and of Germany. Leipzig has always been known as a place of commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair, which began in the Middle Ages, is the oldest remaining trade fair in the world. It became an event of international importance.

The foundation of the University of Leipzig in 1409 initiated the city's development into a centre of German law and the publishing industry, and towards being a location of the Reichsgericht (High Court), and the German National Library (founded in 1912). The philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was born in Leipzig in 1646, and attended the university from 1661–1666.

On 24 December 1701 an oil-fueled street lighting system was instituted. The city employed light guards who had to follow a specific schedule to ensure the punctual alighting of the 700 lanterns.

The 19th century

The Leipzig region was the arena of the Battle of the Nations, which ended Napoleon's run of conquest in Europe, and led to his first exile on Elba. In 1913, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal monument celebrating the centenary of this event was completed.

A terminal of the first German long distance railway to Dresden (the capital of Saxony), in 1839, Leipzig became a hub of Central European railway traffic, with the renowned Leipzig Central Station, the largest terminal station by area in Europe.

Leipzig expanded rapidly towards one million inhabitants. Huge Gründerzeit areas were built, which mostly survived both war and post-war demolition.

Leipzig became a centre of the German and Saxon liberal movements. The first German labour party, the General German Workers' Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein, ADAV) was founded in Leipzig on 23 May 1863 by Ferdinand Lassalle; about 600 workers from across Germany travelled to the foundation on the new railway line.

The 20th century

With the opening of a fifth production hall in 1907, the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei became the largest cotton mill company on the continent, housing over 240,000 spindles. Daily production surpassed 5 million kilograms of yarn.[3]

The city was also heavily damaged by Allied bombing during World War II. American troops of the 69th Infantry Division captured the city on 20 April 1945. The U.S. turned over the city to the Red Army as it pulled back from the line of contact with Soviet forces in July 1945 to the pre-designated occupation zone boundaries. Leipzig became one of the major cities of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

In the mid-20th century, the city's Trade Fair assumed renewed importance as a point of contact with the Comecon Eastern Europe economic bloc, of which East Germany was a member.

In October 1989, after prayers for peace at St. Nicholas Church, established in 1983 as part of the peace movement, the Monday demonstrations started as the most prominent mass protest against the East German regime.[4][5]


  1. Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen jeweils am Monatsende ausgewählter Berichtsmonate nach Gemeinden (German). Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen (31 December 2009).
  2. Hanswilhelm Haefs. Das 2. Handbuch des nutzlosen Wissens. ISBN 3831137544 (German)
  3. History of the cotton mill
  4. David Brebis (ed.), Michelin guide to Germany, Greenville (2006), p. 324. ISBN 086699077417
  5. The day I outflanked the Stasi BBC + video
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