The History of Bautzen

Bautzen was first mentioned (as Budissin) in 1002 by the chronicler Thietmar von Merseburg. Before this, the granite outcrop on the river Spree was already populated by East Germans and Slavic Milzeners, who disputed the right of settlement between them. In 1868 the official renaming of “Budissin” as Bautzen took place. In 2002, twelve years after reunification and ten years after the start of extensive urban regeneration, the 1000-year-old city anniversary was celebrated.

Bautzen’s History in Brief

800 BC Stone-Age settlements
3rd century AD Settlement of East-Germanic tribes
7th century AD Immigration of the “Milzener”, a Slavic tribe, into this area
1002 First written mention of Bautzen as “Budusin”
1018 Peace of Bautzen between the German city and the Polish Duchy
around 1213 at the request of King Ottokar I of Bohemia the establishment of a council for the construction of a stone town hall
1240 First written mention of Bautzen’s town ordinances and privileges
1250 Bautzen achieves Status of a free community
1346 Foundation of the “Six-City League of The Oberlausitz” together with Goerlitz, Kamenz, Lauben, Loebau and Zittau
1391 The right to free elections of the town council is established
1405 The Craftsmens’ Revolt
1429/1431 Hussites fail in laying siege to the city
1524 Foundation of the Protestant Church in Bautzen; The cathedral becomes an interdenominational church
1634 Serious destruction of the city by invading Swedish troops
1635 Bautzen becomes a permanent part of Saxony
1709 Devastating city fires
1813 Battles around Bautzen against Napoleon’s army
1815 Dissolution of the “Six-City League of the Oberlausitz”
1846 The Dresden - Bautzen railway line opened
1868 “Bautzen” becomes the final and fixed German name of the city
1872 Establishment of the first German school planetarium
1888–1891 Construction of the new Maria and Martha Church at the present August-Bebel-Platz
1897–1904 Erection of the “Wendish House” (Sorbian House) – destroyed in 1945
1902 Bautzen receives the “Rietschel Gable” from the Saxon King George, which was placed on the east-gable of the town theatre
1902–1906 Construction of the District Court Building
1904 Penal Institution of Saxony is officially opened (Known as the “Gelbes Elend” – “Yellow Misery”)
1908–1909 Construction of the Throne Prince Bridge, today known as the “Friedensbruecke” (the Bridge of Peace)
1912 Inauguration of the town museum
Establishment of the “Domowina” as foundation of all Sorbian associations
1913 Inclusion of the village Strehla into the municipality
1917 In Bautzen eleven church and secular bells are sacrificed to the cause of rearmnament
1920 Opening of the Spree Baths
1921 Re-establishment of the diocese of Meissen with its headquarters in Bautzen by pope Benedict XV. The Chapter becomes Cathedral Chapter and St. Peter’s Cathedral – Cathedral of the diocese of Meissen
1922 Inclusion of the village Seidau into the municipality of Bautzen
1925 Establishment of the Convent of the Franciscans of the Holiest Sacrament by Bishop Christian Schreiber in Bautzen (Klosterstraße)
1928 First official Easter equestrian procession from Bautzen to Radibor since the end of the 18th century.
1933 Millennial celebrations on the occasion of the extension of the Mark Meissen to the area of the Milzener, part of the later Oberlausitz
1933–1989 From 1933 many people were imprisoned by the national socialists for political reasons in Bautzen I prison (built in 1904 in Breitscheidstraße). After the war the Soviet occupiers used the prison as a “special camp”. By 1956, more than 3,000 prisoners had died due to inhuman conditions of imprisonment. Until 1989, Bautzen I was one of the largest prisons in the GDR, in which, in addition to criminals, political prisoners were also incarcerated.
1933–1989 Many political prisoners were also held in the Bautzen II detention center (built in Weigangstraße in 1906) during the National Socialist period and the Soviet occupation. From 1949, the GDR used the smaller prison for the imprisonment of large numbers of political prisoners. From 1956 to 1989 the building served as a special detention center for the State Security of the GDR.
1938 Persecution of the Jews living in Bautzen and destruction of Jewish-owned businesses during the “Reich’s Crystal Night”
1944 Construction of an external camp as part of the concentration camp Gross-Rosen inside the company “Waggonbau”
1945 Fortress-like construction of the town as protection against the Allied troops near the end of the war. During the fighting, approximately 10% of the residential buildings with almost 34% of the town’s living space were destroyed. Eighteen bridges, 33 public buildings, 46 small firms and 23 larger firms were completely destroyed. It is said that approximately 6.500 soldiers from both sides fell in the battles. According to other statistics, it is said that 350 civilians were killed in Bautzen during this time.
1966–1989 7 Festivals of Sorbian culture are carried out in this time
1969 The old City Theatre (at the Kornmarkt with the Rietschel Gable) and the Reichentor (a town gate) are demolished
1973–1975 The new housing estate “Dr.- Salvador-Allende-Strasse” with 1, 500 flats is built
1974 The dam of the river Spree near Bautzen is completed
1975 The “German-Sorbian Folk Theatre” gets a new building
1977–1987 The new housing estate “Gesundbrunnen” with 5, 900 flats is built
1991 Renewed foundation of the “Six-City League of The Oberlausitz”
Establishment of the “Foundation for the Sorbian Folk”
1992 The resolution for redevelopment of the old town is passed

See the video in the right column – Bautzen 1992
The participants of a continuing education seminar of Bikom GmbH Bautzen created this film in 1992. Their goal was to present Bautzen with all its problems and challenges, but also with its attractions and highlights. In addition to an interview with the Lord Mayor Mr. Schramm, the city is presented in all its splendor.
1994 The villages “Niederkaina” and “Stiebitz” become an area of Bautzen- city
1995 Bautzen becomes a regional administrative centre
1999 The village “Kleinwelka” becomes an area of Bautzen-city
2002 1000 year celebration of the original first historical record of the city
2003 The beginning of the demolition of some blocks of flats in the GesundBrunnen area
2005 Adoption of the Guiding Principles “Bautzen 2020” by the City Council
2007 The first installation in Bautzen of “Stolpersteinen” (commemorative brass plaques) by the artist Gunter Demnig to commemorate the lives of Jewish Citizens of the City.
2008 The Sorbische School and Community Centre re-opens following extensive rebuilding work.
2010 Extreme Flooding of the River Spree in Bautzen