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View to the old town
|• Mayor||Dorothea Bachmann|
|• Total||66.44 km2 (25.65 sq mi)|
|Elevation||528 m (1,732 ft)|
|• Density||280/km2 (730/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
|Dialling codes||07471, 07477 (Schlatt)|
Hechingen is a town in central Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated about 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of the state capital of Stuttgart and 90 kilometres (56 mi) north of Lake Constance and the Swiss border.
The city of Hechingen is subdivided into nine neighborhoods, and the downtown is separated into Oberstadt/Altstadt (Upper Town/Old Town) and Unterstadt (Lower Town).
Recent research shows that the battle of Solicinium, fought in 368 between the invading Alamanni and a Roman army led by Emperor Valentinian I, probably took place in the northern part of what is today Hechingen and the lost city Solicinium was located where the Roman museum of Hechingen is located today.
Hechingen is the ancestral home of the Hohenzollern. In 1176 the Counts of Hohenberg separated from the Counts of Hohenzollern and seized several cities from the Hohenzollern. In 1218 the Burgraves of Nuremberg gained independence from them.
Hechingen was located on an Imperial highway which led from the middle Neckar south by way of Rottweil to the upper Rhine and the Alpine passes. The Counts of Hohenzollern had financial problems and grew steadily weaker. In 1388, there was a siege, following which Eberhard II, Duke of Württemberg gained feudal rights over the territory. The Counts of Hohenzollern became his vassals and opened the town and their castle to him.
After the town was destroyed by fire in 1401, the Count tried to attract new citizens by granting them rights and privileges. The town thus became the center of the county. The cost of rebuilding was so great that Friedrich XII of Hohenzollern, known as der Öttinger, sold his entire fortune to Württemberg in 1415. Even this was not enough to satisfy his creditors. The Imperial court in Rottweil condemned him. Although his cousins in Brandenburg attempted arbitration for him, Henriette, Countess of Montbéliard, Duchess of Württemberg, took the castle in 1423 and destroyed it. After he was freed from prison, Friedrich undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. His brother, Eitel Friedrich IV of Hohenzollern, also pledged his allegiance to Württemberg, turning over his inheritance if he did not have an heir. However, in 1433 at age 50, he had a son, Jos Niklaus, and by his death in 1439 he had regained half of their land.
His son, Count Jos Niklaus of Hohenzollern was able to gain Imperial permission to rebuild the castle, as well as to nullify the agreement with Württemberg. Thus, the city of Hechingen remained in the hands of the Hohenzollern. As a result, the city remained more provincial, and largely agricultural.
Renaissance and Reformation
In 1567, the county was divided in three and became the counties of Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, and Hohenzollern-Haigerloch. (The latter was rejoined to Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in 1634.) Hechingen became the residence of the counts of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. Their territory, which consisted of Hechingen and 26 villages, did not change substantially until the 19th century.
Eitel Friedrich IV (1576–1605) made Hechingen a center of art, music, and Renaissance architecture. Many buildings built during his reign are still to be seen today: the convent church St. Luzen, the hospital, and the lower tower, the last remnant of the city defenses. the Renaissance palace that he built, the Friedrichsburg, was removed at the beginning of the 19th century and replaced by the New Palace.
During the Reformation, Hechingen remained Catholic, but the city was not unaffected by the 30 Years' War. In 1625, Imperial troops reached Hechingen, and the prince (the count had been raised to that status in 1623) bore the cost of supporting them. These costs, along with plundering by the soldiers and several poor harvests, caused great suffering and many deaths in the city.
In 1632, the Swedish army attacked, and the following year the entire Swedish army entered the city. The castle remained in the hands of the Hohenzollerns, and the troops marched on to Sigmaringen, which fell into the hands of Eberhard III, Duke of Württemberg (1614–1674) in 1633. Finally, on 5 July 1633, the city fell into the hands of the Württembergs, and the castle was besieged. The siege lasted nine months, the castle receiving food from the local farmers through underground passages and paying for it with precious objects from the castle, since there was no money available.
On 3 April 1634, the castle surrendered to the Württembergs, which only made things worse. The soldiers stole everything they could get their hands on, and the farmers no longer had any animals to plow their fields.
A short time later, Imperial troops reached the city, forcing the Württemberg troops to withdraw, but the Imperial troops were weakened by the long war and could not enforce the peace. The next year, 1635, saw the outbreak of the Plague, which decimated the already weakened population.
In the same year, the castle fell into the hands of Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria (1573–1651) until 1637, when Hohenzollern rule was restored.
The troops of Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, who was allied with the French, plundered the city completely in 1638 in 12 days. The residents were reduced to eating nettles and snails, since there were not even any cats or dogs left.
In 1639, the city was again occupied by the Bavarians until 1650. Although the Peace of Westphalia was signed in 1648, the troops remained two years longer because the outstanding taxes had not been paid.
The first large palace in the city was Friedrichsburg. The construction of a new palace—Neues Schloss—to replace it was started in 1818, but it was never properly finished because of the financial constraints of Prince Frederik. Neues Schloss is currently the headquarters of the Zollernalb Savings Bank.
Starting in 1826, Constantine and Eugénie made Hechingen into a cultural center in southern Germany. They had famous guests, including Eugénie's cousin, the future Napoleon III, Hector Berlioz, and Franz Liszt.
After the Revolution of 1848, Constantine retired from public life, and his county passed into the control of the Protestant kingdom of Prussia in 1850. Hohenzollern-Hechingen was then incorporated into the district of Sigmaringen, which became the capital. In that same year, Friedrich August Stüler began the restoration of the castle.
By 1850, Hechingen had started to industrialize, primarily with Jewish enterprises. By 1871 the city had become one of the most important economic centres in the region, with textiles and machine shops among the major industries.
In 1925, Hechingen became the capital of a new Landkreis.
Because many of the enterprises in Hechingen were in Jewish hands, they were closed or redistributed by the Nazis. Much of the architecture of the city was destroyed or damaged by Nazi attempts to build air raid shelters in public buildings. The town hall was so damaged that it had to be destroyed.
In April 1945, American troops entered Hechingen and took over the atomic research laboratory and nuclear reactor. Many of the physicists were interned in Farm Hall in England and tried over the following years. Many of the scientists went on to have successful postwar careers for instance; On 15 November 1945 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Otto Hahn had been awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for his discovery of the fission of heavy atomic nuclei."
The city became part of the French occupation zone, and the military governor of the city was Colonel Courtois.
The Landkreis became part of Württemberg-Hohenzollern in 1947 until the creation of the state of Baden-Württemberg in 1952. In 1973, it was incorporated into the Zollernalbkreis, with Balingen as the capital.
Hechingen has completely restored its nineteenth-century synagogue.
The city of Hechingen has been an important economic center for the region for over a century. In 1848 the first major enterprises were founded by notable Jewish residents. People from Mössingen, Sonnenbühl, Albstadt, and the Swabian Alps came to work. After the Second World War, IBM, BMW, and HP applied for building permits, which the city government denied. IBM and HP later built facilities in Sindelfingen-Böblingen.
Notable enterprises which have plants in Hechingen are Gambro, ELCO, the Hohenzollerische Landesbahn, and Sternenbäck. The city has a big industrial park in the north, which is divided in three areas: Lotzenäcker, Etzental, and Nasswasen. Three other industrial areas can be found in Hechingen: Reinetal, In den Seelenäckern and Auf der Bins.
The incumbent mayor of Hechingen is Jürgen Weber. He was elected to be mayor until October 2012. Former mayors of Hechingen include:
- Joué-lès-Tours, France, since 1973
- Limbach-Oberfronhna, Germany, since 1990
- Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary, since 1994
- Sokobanja, Serbia, since 2014
- Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730–1797), Prussian military officer
- Karoline Kaulla (1739–1809), Court Jew
- Samuel Ullman (1840–1924), poet
- Elsa Einstein (1876–1936), cousin and wife of Albert Einstein
- Wilhelm von Preussen, last German Crown Prince
- Paul Levi (1883–1930), communist leader
- Friedrich Kessler (1901–1998), law professor
- Otto Baum (1911 - 1988), Knights Cross holder
- Markus Wolf (1923–2006), spymaster
- Wolfgang Abendroth (1906–1985), socialist jurist and political scientist
- Klaus Kinkel (* 1936), vice chancellor of Germany