Originating in the 17th century, Luckenwalde's cloth and wool factories did not spring up till the reign of King Frederick II of Prussia and soon were among the most extensive in Germany. Other traditional industries were cotton printing and a dye works, brewing, and the making of metal and bronze goods. In 1808 Luckenwalde officially received town privileges.
By the turn of the 20th Century Luckenwalde became renowned as a key manufacturer of hats. In 1921 the two biggest hat ateliers, Herrmann and Steinberg, merged and set up their factory on an industrial estate in Luckenwalde. The factory was designed by German architect Erich Mendelsohn in 1923, the factory is considered a milestone of Expressionist architecture. The hat factory fell into disrepair during and after the war period and was restored in 2001, but as of 2013 the building remains empty.
During World War II, there was a Stalag for prisoners of war (Stalag IIIa). There was also a work camp for civilians. The Nazis forced people to work for their war effort or else the families of people who worked there would perish. Lack of food and hard work killed thousands. Among them were Poles, Italians, French and many more. There were several places in the town and surrounding areas where they worked. Luckenwalde was taken by the Red Army on 22 April 1945. 
Development of Population since 1875 within the Current Boundaries (Blue Line: Population; Dotted Line: Comparison to Population Development of Brandenburg state; Grey Background: Time of Nazi rule; Red Background: Time of Communist rule)
Recent Population Development (Blue Line) and Forecasts
Population development within the current boundaries (2013)