Coordinates: 50°43′N 12°30′E / 50.717°N 12.500°E / 50.717; 12.500
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Clockwise from top: main market; Zwickau at night; Robert Schumann statue; city hall; cloth hall (theatre); and Osterstein Castle
Flag of Zwickau
Coat of arms of Zwickau
Location of Zwickau within Zwickau district
BernsdorfCallenbergCrimmitschauCrinitzbergDennheritzFraureuthGersdorfGlauchauHartensteinHartmannsdorfHirschfeldHohenstein-ErnstthalKirchbergLangenbernsdorfLangenweißbachLichtensteinLichtentanneLimbach-OberfrohnaMeeraneMülsenNeukirchenNiederfrohnaOberlungwitzOberwieraReinsdorfRemseSchönbergSankt EgidienWaldenburgWerdauWildenfelsWilkau-HaßlauZwickauSaxonyThuringiaVogtlandkreisErzgebirgskreisChemnitzMittelsachsen
Zwickau is located in Germany
Zwickau is located in Saxony
Coordinates: 50°43′N 12°30′E / 50.717°N 12.500°E / 50.717; 12.500
Subdivisions5 urban units with 35 townships
 • Lord mayor (2020–27) Constance Arndt (BfZ)[1]
 • Total102.54 km2 (39.59 sq mi)
 • Total86,592
 • Density840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0375
Vehicle registrationZ

Zwickau (German pronunciation: [ˈtsvɪkaʊ] ; polish Ćwików; czech Cvikov) is, with around 87,500 inhabitants (2020), the fourth-largest city of Saxony after Leipzig, Dresden and Chemnitz and it is the seat of the Zwickau District. The West Saxon city is situated in the valley of the Zwickau Mulde (German: Zwickauer Mulde; progression: MuldeElbeNorth Sea), and lies in a string of cities sitting in the densely populated foreland of the Elster and Ore Mountains stretching from Plauen in the southwest via Zwickau, Chemnitz and Freiberg to Dresden in the northeast. From 1834 until 1952, Zwickau was the seat of the government of the south-western region of Saxony.

The name of the city is of Sorbian origin and may refer to Svarog, the Slavic god of fire and of the sun. Zwickau is the seat of the West Saxon University of Zwickau (German: Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau) with campuses in Zwickau, Markneukirchen, Reichenbach im Vogtland and Schneeberg (Erzgebirge). The city is the birthplace of composer Robert Schumann.

As cradle of Audi's forerunner Horch and as seat of the Sachsenring company which produced (then still as VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau) East Germany's most popular car, the Trabant, Zwickau has historically been one of the centres of the German automotive industry, with a tradition over one hundred years old,[3] including other car makers like Auto Union and Volkswagen.[4]

The valley of the 166-kilometre (103-mile) long Zwickau Mulde River stretches from the Vogtland to Colditz Castle at the other end. The Silver Road, Saxony's longest tourist route, connects Dresden with Zwickau.[5]

Zwickau can be reached by car via the nearby Autobahns A4 and A72, the main railway station (Zwickau Hauptbahnhof), via a public airfield which takes light aircraft, and by bike along river the Zwickau Mulde River on the so-called Mulderadweg.[6]


The main market of Zwickau
The river Zwickauer Mulde in Zwickau by autumn, seen in October 2004
St. Mary's church, at dusk

The region around Zwickau was settled by Sorbs as early as the 7th century AD. The name Zwickau is probably a Germanization of the Sorbian toponym Šwikawa, which derives from Svarozič, the Slavic Sun and fire god.[7] In the 10th century, German settlers began arriving and the native Slavs were Germanized. A trading place known as terretorio Zcwickaw (in Medieval Latin) was mentioned in 1118. The settlement received a town charter in 1212, and hosted Franciscans and Cistercians during the 13th century. Zwickau was a free imperial city from 1290 to 1323, but was subsequently granted to the Margraviate of Meissen. Although regional mining began in 1316, extensive mining increased with the discovery of silver in the Schneeberg in 1470. Because of the silver ore deposits in the Erzgebirge, Zwickau developed in the 15th and 16th centuries and grew to be an important economic and cultural centre of Saxony.

Its nine churches include the Gothic church of St. Mary (1451–1536), with a spire 285 ft (87 m) high and a bell weighing 51 tons. The church contains an altar with wood carvings, eight paintings by Michael Wohlgemuth and a pietà in carved and painted wood by Peter Breuer.

St. Catharine's church

The late Gothic church of St. Catharine has an altar piece ascribed to Lucas Cranach the elder, and is remembered because Thomas Müntzer was once pastor there (1520–22). The city hall was begun in 1404 and rebuilt many times since. The municipal archives include documents dating back to the 13th century.

Early printed books from the Middle Ages, historical documents, letters and books are kept in the City Archives (e.g. Meister Singer volumes by Hans Sachs (1494–1576)), and in the School Library founded by scholars and by the city clerk Stephan Roth during the Reformation.

In 1520 Martin Luther dedicated his treatise "On the Freedom of the Christian Man" to his friend Hermann Muehlpfort, the Lord Mayor of Zwickau. The Anabaptist movement of 1525 began at Zwickau under the inspiration of the "Zwickau prophets".[8] After Wittenberg, it became the first city in Europe to join the Lutheran Reformation. The late Gothic Gewandhaus (cloth merchants' hall), was built in 1522–24 and is now converted into a theatre. The city was seriously damaged during the Thirty Years' War.[citation needed]

The old city of Zwickau, perched on a hill, is surrounded by heights with extensive forests and a municipal park. Near the city are the Hartenstein area, for example, with Stein and Wolfsbrunn castles and the Prinzenhöhle cave, as well as the Auersberg peak (1019 meters) and the winter sports areas around Johanngeorgenstadt and the Vogtland.

In the Old Town the Cathedral and the Gewandhaus (cloth merchants' hall) originate in the 16th century and when Schneeberg silver was traded. In the 19th century the city's economy was driven by industrial coal mining and later by automobile manufacturing.

Memorial at the resting place of 325 victims of Nazi Germany

During World War II, in 1942, a Nazi show trial of the members of the Czarny Legion [pl] Polish underground resistance organization from Gostyń was held in Zwickau, after which 12 members were executed in Dresden, and several dozen were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, where 37 of them died.[9] In May 1942, five Polish students of the Salesian Oratory in Poznań, known as the Poznań Five [pl] or five of the 108 Blessed Polish Martyrs of World War II, were imprisoned in Zwickau, before being executed in Dresden.[10] A subcamp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp was located in Zwickau, whose prisoners were mostly Poles and Russians, but also Italians, French, Hungarians, Jews, Czechs, Germans and others.[11]

On 17 April 1945, US troops entered the city. They withdrew on 30 June 1945 and handed Zwickau to the Soviet Red Army. Between 1944 and 2003, the city had a population of over 100,000.

A major employer is Volkswagen which assembles its ID.3, ID.4 and ID.5 models, as well as Audi and Cupra EV's in the Zwickau-Mosel vehicle plant.

Economic history[edit]

The Brückenberg I anthracite coal mine, later named Karl-Marx, here in 1948
Production of the last Trabant in 1990

Coal mining[edit]

Coal mining is mentioned as early as 1348.[8] However, mining on an industrial scale first started in the early 19th century. The coal mines of Zwickau and the neighbouring Oelsnitz-Lugau coalfield contributed significantly to the industrialisation of the region and the city.

In 1885 Carl Wolf invented an improved gas-detecting safety mining-lamp. He held the first world patent for it. Together with his business partner Friemann he founded the "Friemann & Wolf" factory. Coal mining ceased in 1978. About 230 million tonnes had been mined to a depth of over 1,000 metres. In 1992 Zwickau's last coke oven plant was closed.

Many industrial branches developed in the city in the wake of the coal mining industry: mining equipment, iron and steel works, textile, machinery in addition to chemical, porcelain, paper, glass, dyestuffs, wire goods, tinware, stockings, and curtains. There were also steam saw-mills, diamond and glass polishing works, iron-foundries, and breweries.

Automotive industry[edit]

In 1904 the Horch automobile plant was founded, followed by the Audi factory in 1909. In 1932 both brands were incorporated into Auto Union but retained their independent trademarks. The Auto Union racing cars, developed by Ferdinand Porsche and Robert Eberan von Eberhorst, driven by Bernd Rosemeyer, Hans Stuck, Tazio Nuvolari, Ernst von Delius, became well known[by whom?] all over[vague] the world.[example needed] During World War II, the Nazi government operated a satellite camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Zwickau which was sited near the Horch Auto Union plant. The Nazi administration built a hard labour prison camp at Osterstein Castle. Both camps were liberated by the US Army in 1945. On 1 August 1945 military administration was handed over to the Soviet Army. The Auto Union factories of Horch and Audi were dismantled by the Soviets; Auto Union relocated to Ingolstadt, Bavaria, evolving into the present day Audi company. In 1948 all large companies were seized by the East German government.

With the founding of the German Democratic Republic in 1949 in East Germany, post-war reconstruction began. In 1958 the Horch and Audi factories were merged into the Sachsenring plant. At the Sachsenring automotive plant the compact Trabant cars were manufactured. These small cars had a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine. The car was the first vehicle in the world to be industrially manufactured with a plastic car body. The former VEB Sachsenring manufacturing site was acquired by Volkswagen in 1990 and has since been redeveloped as an engine and transmission manufacturing facility.

Audi-AG together with the city of Zwickau operates the August Horch Museum in the former Audi works.

Uranium mining[edit]

Two major industrial facilities of the Soviet SDAG Wismut were situated in the city: the uranium mill in Zwickau-Crossen, producing uranium concentrate from ores mined in the Erzgebirge and Thuringia, and the machine building plant in Zwickau-Cainsdorf producing equipment for the uranium mines and mills of East Germany. Uranium milling ended in 1989, and after the unification the Wismut machine building plant was sold to a private investor.


Zwickau is bounded by Mülsen, Reinsdorf, Wilkau-Hasslau, Hirschfeld (Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Kirchberg), Lichtentanne, Werdau, Neukirchen, Crimmitschau, Dennheritz (Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Crimmitschau), and the city of Glauchau.


  • 1895: Pölbitz
  • 1902: Marienthal
  • 1905: Eckersbach
  • 1922: Weissenborn
  • 1923: Schedewitz
  • 1939: Brand and Bockwa
  • 1944: Oberhohndorf and Planitz
  • 1953: Auerbach, Pöhlau, and Niederhohndorf
  • 1993: Hartmannsdorf
  • 1996: Rottmannsdorf
  • 1996: Crossen (with 4 municipalities on January 1, 1994, Schneppendorf)
  • 1999: Cainsdorf, Mosel, Oberrothenbach, and Schlunzig, along with Hüttelsgrün (Lichtentanne) and Freiheitssiedlung


Historical population
Source: Census data for 1875 to 1939


The production of the Trabant was discontinued after German reunification, but Volkswagen built a new factory, and Sachsenring is now a supplier for the automobile industry. Nowadays the headquarters of the Volkswagen-Saxony Ltd. (a VW subsidiary) is in the northern part of Zwickau.


Zwickau is home to the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau, with about 4,700 students and two campuses within the boundaries of Zwickau.

Dr. Martin Luther School (German: Dr. Martin Luther Schule) is a grade 1-4 school of the Evangelical Lutheran Free Church in Zwickau.[12]


Mayor and city council[edit]

The first freely elected mayor after German reunification was Rainer Eichhorn of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who served from 1990 to 2001. The mayor was originally chosen by the city council, but since 1994 has been directly elected. Dietmar Vettermann, also of the CDU, served from 2001 until 2008. He was succeeded by Pia Findeiß of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), who was in office until 2020. The most recent mayoral election was held on 20 September 2020, with a runoff held on 11 October, at which Constance Arndt (Bürger für Zwickau) was elected.[1]

The most recent city council election was held on 26 May 2019, and the results were as follows:

Party Votes % +/- Seats +/-
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 25,267 22.0 Decrease 11.7 11 Decrease 6
Alternative for Germany (AfD) 25,112 21.9 Increase 13.0 11 Increase 7
The Left (Die Linke) 16,853 14.7 Decrease 6.5 8 Decrease 3
Citizens for Zwickau (BfZ) 12,359 10.8 Increase 1.9 5 Increase 1
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 11,726 10.2 Decrease 5.3 5 Decrease 2
Alliance 90/The Greens (Grüne) 7,503 6.5 Increase 1.1 3 Increase 1
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 6,368 5.5 Increase 1.3 3 Increase 1
Human Environment Animal Protection (tier) 4,181 3.6 New 1 New
Future Zwickau 3,266 2.8 New 1 New
Free Voters (FW) 1,397 1.2 Decrease 1.1 0 Decrease 1
Blue #TeamPetry 897 0.8 New 0 New
Valid votes 39,514 97.8
Invalid votes 876 2.2
Total 40,390 100.0 48 ±0
Electorate/voter turnout 73,497 55.0 Increase 13.8
Source: Wahlen in Sachsen

Historical mayors[edit]

City hall, main façade from 1866 to 1867 and earlier
  • 1501–1518: Erasmus Stella
  • 1518–1530: Hermann Mühlpfort
  • 1800, 1802, 1804, 1806, 1808, 1810, 1812, 1814: Carl Wilhelm Ferber
  • 1801, 1803, 1805, 1807, 1809, 1811, 1813, 1815, 1817, 1819: Tobias Hempel
  • 1816, 1818, 1820, 1822: Christian Gottlieb Haugk
  • 1821, 1823, 1825, 1826: Carl Heinrich Rappius
  • 1824: Christian Heinrich Pinther
  • 1827–1830: Christian Heinrich Mühlmann, Stadtvogt
  • 1830–1832: Franz Adolf Marbach
  • 1832–1860: Friedrich Wilhelm Meyer
  • 1860–1898: Lothar Streit, from 1874 Lord Mayor
  • 1898–1919: Karl Keil
  • 1919–1934: Richard Holz
  • 1934–1945: Ewald Dost
  • 1945: Fritz Weber (acting Lord Mayor)
  • 1945: Georg Ulrich Handke (1894–1962) (acting Lord Mayor)
  • 1945–1949: Paul Müller
  • 1949–1954: Otto Assmann (1901–1977)
  • 1954–1958: Otto Schneider
  • 1958–1969: Gustav Seifried
  • 1969–1973: Liesbeth Windisch
  • 1973–1977: Helmut Repmann
  • 1977–1990: Heiner Fischer (1936–2016)
  • 1990–2001: Rainer Eichhorn (born 1950)
  • 2001–2008: Dietmar Vettermann (born 1957)
  • 2008: until now Pia Findeiss (born 1956)


Main railway station

The city is close to the A4 (Dresden-Erfurt) and A72 (Hof-Chemnitz) Autobahns.

Zwickau Hauptbahnhof is on the Dresden–Werdau line, part of the Saxon-Franconian trunk line, connecting Nuremberg and Dresden. There are further railway connections to Leipzig as well as Karlovy Vary and Cheb in the Czech Republic. The core element of Zwickau's urban public transport system is the Zwickau tramway network; the system is also the prototype of the so-called Zwickau Model for such systems.

The closest airport is Leipzig-Altenburg, which has no scheduled commercial flights. The nearest major airports are Leipzig/Halle Airport and Dresden Airport, both of which offer a large number of national and international flights.


House where Robert Schumann was born 1810, museum at Hauptmarkt 5

In the city centre there are three museums: an art museum from the 19th century and the houses of priests from 13th century, both located next to St. Mary's church. Just around the corner there is the Robert-Schumann museum. The museums offer different collections dedicated to the history of the city, as well as art and a mineralogical, palaeontological and geological collection with many specimens from the city and the nearby Ore Mountains.

Zwickau is the birthplace of the composer Robert Schumann. The house where he was born in 1810 still stands in the marketplace. This is now called Robert Schumann House and is a museum dedicated to him.

The histories of the Audi and Horch automobile factories are presented at the August Horch Museum Zwickau. The museum is an Anchor Point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (EIRH).

Notable people[edit]

Robert Schumann
Janus Cornarius
Jacob Leupold

Born before 1900[edit]

Born after 1900[edit]

Gerhard Schürer in 1982

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Zwickau is twinned with:[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wahlergebnisse 2020, Freistaat Sachsen, accessed 10 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen nach Gemeinden am 31. Dezember 2021" (XLS) (in German). Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen. 2022.
  3. ^ "Wirtschaft & Standort" [Industry & Location]. (in German). Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  4. ^ "How to find us". Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  5. ^ ADAC Travel Guide, Towns and Cities from A to Z – City Guide Germany Travel Information, first edition June 2005, 368 pages, ISBN 3-89905-233-1
  6. ^ "Mulderadweg" [Mulde bike lane] (in German). Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  7. ^ Zwickau by Stadtbaurat Ebersbach in: Deutschlands Städtebau (Germany's Urban Development), Deutscher Architektur und Industrieverlag Berlin 1921
  8. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Zwickau". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1061.
  9. ^ Wojciech Königsberg (August 20, 2015). "Czarny Legion - polska organizacja podziemna rozbita przez Niemców". WP Opinie (in Polish). Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  10. ^ "Poznańska piątka". (in Polish). August 24, 2019. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  11. ^ "Zwickau Subcamp". KZ-Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  12. ^ "Evangelical Lutheran Free Church—Germany". Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  13. ^ "Stabsstelle Stadtentwicklung". (in German). Zwickau. Retrieved February 18, 2021.

External links[edit]