Last updated

Hartenfels Castle
Torgauer Wappen.svg
Coat of arms
Location of Torgau within Nordsachsen district
Torgau in TDO.png
Germany adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Saxony location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 51°33′37″N13°0′20″E / 51.56028°N 13.00556°E / 51.56028; 13.00556 Coordinates: 51°33′37″N13°0′20″E / 51.56028°N 13.00556°E / 51.56028; 13.00556
Country Germany
State Saxony
District Nordsachsen
Municipal assoc. Torgau
   Mayor Romina Barth (CDU)
  Total102.53 km2 (39.59 sq mi)
78 m (256 ft)
 (2019-12-31) [1]
  Density190/km2 (500/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes 03421
Vehicle registration TDO, DZ, EB, OZ, TG, TO

Torgau (German: [ˈtɔʁɡaʊ̯] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) is a town on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district Nordsachsen.


Outside Germany, the town is best known as where on 25 April 1945, the United States and Soviet Armies forces first met near the end of the Second World War.


Sights include the historic town centre, restored since German reunification, a brewery museum, the monument for the meeting of the Russian and American troops on the Elbe and a Russian military cemetery. The early Renaissance Hartenfels Castle dominates the town. The chapel was built in 1544 (designed by Nickel Gromann) and combines late Gothic with early Renaissance elements. It was consecrated by Martin Luther on 5 October 1544. Brown bears are still kept in the moat.


The settlement goes back to a Slavonic settlement named Turguo in the shire of Neletici. There was presumably a wooden Slavonic castle located on the site of the present-day Hartenfels castle. In the 10th century it fell under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperors, and a stone castle was built, around which the settlement congregated. A market is attested in 1119. The town was located on the important trade-road, the via regia Lusatiae inferioris, between Leipzig and Frankfurt an der Oder that crossed the river Elbe at a ford east of Torgau.

Torgau belonged to the duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg, which in 1356 was raised to be the Electorate of Saxony. After the last Ascanian duke died without issue in 1423, the Electorate passed to the Wettin dynasty, which took up its residence at Torgau. Following the Treaty of Leipzig partition of the Wettin inheritance on 26 August 1485, Torgau fell to the Ernestine line. Frederick III, Elector of Saxony and his successors had Hartenfels Castle at Torgau built by architect Conrad Pflüger and his successor Konrad Krebs. The Ernestine court resided mainly in Torgau and in Weimar. From 1525 onwards, Torgau became the sole residence. Hartenfels Castle is the largest completely preserved castle of the early Renaissance in Germany. After the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547, Torgau fell to the Albertine line.

During the Reformation, the town council closed all cloisters in 1523. Citizens of Torgau destroyed the paintings and statues of saints in the churches and stormed the Franciscan monastery. After Luther had driven Andreas Karlstadt (Bodenstein) from Saxony in 1524, he enforced the expulsion of Karlstadt's followers in Torgau in 1529. Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther, died in Torgau and is buried there in St. Marien, Torgau. The court chapel, constructed in 1543-44 by Nikolaus Gromann, was consecrated by Martin Luther on 5 October 1544; it is thus the second oldest newly built protestant church in the world, after the court chapel of Neuburg Castle which was consecrated in 1543. The Torgauer Artikel, a draft of the Augsburg Confession was composed by Luther, Melanchthon, Bugenhagen and Jonas in the electoral superindenture in 1530 (Wintergrün). The Lutheran Formula of Concord was written in Torgau in 1576.

The first German opera, Heinrich Schütz's Dafne, was presented at the court in Torgau, 1627.

In the Battle of Torgau, on 3 November 1760, a Prussian army under the command of King Friedrich the Great defeated a larger Austrian army under the command of Field Marshal Leopold Josef Graf Daun, a major battle of the Seven Years' War. After the Congress of Vienna, it was passed to Prussia in 1815.

World War II

The town is where during the Second World War, United States Army forces coming from the west met forces of the Soviet Army coming from the east during the invasion of Germany on 25 April 1945, which is now remembered as "Elbe Day". Units of the U.S. First Army and the Soviet First Ukrainian Front met on the bridge at Torgau, and at Lorenzkirch (near Strehla), 20 miles to the south. The unit commanders met the following day at Torgau for an official handshake. This marked the beginning of the line of contact between Soviet and American forces but not the finalized occupation zones. In fact, the area surrounding Torgau initially occupied by U.S. forces was in July 1945 given over to Soviet forces in compliance with the Yalta Agreement. After the war, in 1949, the film Encounter at the Elbe was released by Mosfilm about the meeting of both armies.

Torgau was one of the prisons in which Reinhold Eggers spent his postwar imprisonment after he had been sentenced by the Soviets. He had been the security officer at Oflag IV-C during the war in Colditz Castle.

Post–World War II

After the war, the Soviet secret police agency NKVD established its Special Camps Nos. 8 and 10 in Fort Zinna and in the nearby Seydlitz barracks. Germans and some Soviet citizens were interned here or served sentences passed by the Soviet military tribunals. The East German People's Police used the Fort Zinna prison from 1950 to 1990 as a penitentiary. In the 1950s it primarily housed political prisoners.

The Torgau Documentation and Information Center (DIZ), founded in 1991 and now under the administration of the Saxon Memorial Foundation for the commemoration of the victims of political despotism, researches and presents the history of the Torgau prisons in the permanent exhibition "Traces of Injustice". [2]

After World War II, Torgau was initially the district centre of the state of Saxony Anhalt in East Germany. After the dissolution of the states of East Germany in 1952, it became part of Bezirk Leipzig. In 1990, after the Unification of Germany, it became part of the Leipzig region of the state of Saxony. In 2008 it became the center of the Nordsachsen district.

Population development

  • 1831 – 6,440
  • 1885 – 10,988 1
  • 1946 – 18,455
  • 1950 – 19,683
  • 1960 – 19,690
  • 1981 – 21,222
  • 1984 – 21,508
  • 1999 – 19,571
  • 2002 – 19,062
  • 2004 – 18,843
  • 2005 – 18,719
  • 2007 – 17,837
  • 2010 – 19,688 2
  • 2012 – 20,248
  • 2013 – 20,092
  • 2014 – 19,964
Data source from 1999: Statistical office Saxony

1 including barracks
2 Incorporation Pflückuff

Notable people

Georg von Siemens, 1895 Georg von Siemens.jpg
Georg von Siemens, 1895

Related Research Articles

Saxony-Anhalt State in Germany

Saxony-Anhalt (German: Sachsen-Anhalt is a state of Germany, bordering the states of Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia and Lower Saxony. It covers an area of 20,447.7 square kilometres and has a population of 2.19 million inhabitants, making it the 8th-largest state in Germany by area and the 11th-largest by population. Its capital is Magdeburg and its largest city is Halle.

Wittenberg Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

For the town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, see Wittenburg.

Colditz Place in Saxony, Germany

Colditz is a small town in the district of Leipzig, in Saxony, Germany. It is best known for Colditz Castle, the site of the Oflag IV-C POW camp for officers in World War II.

Altenburg City in Thuringia, Germany

Altenburg is a city in Thuringia, Germany, located 40 kilometres south of Leipzig, 90 kilometres west of Dresden and 100 kilometres east of Erfurt. It is the capital of the Altenburger Land district and part of a polycentric old-industrial textile and metal production region between Gera, Zwickau and Chemnitz with more than 1 million inhabitants, while the city itself has a population of 33,000. Today, the city and its rural county is part of the Central German Metropolitan Region.

House of Wettin German noble and royal family

The House of Wettin is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, and its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt. The Wettins gradually rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, and Saxony in 1423. These areas cover large parts of Central Germany as a cultural area of Germany.

Delitzsch Town in the Free State of Saxony

Delitzsch is a town in the Free State of Saxony in Germany, 20 km north of Leipzig and 30 km east of Halle (Saale). With 24,850 inhabitants at the end of 2015, it is the largest town in the district of Nordsachsen.

Saalfeld Place in Thuringia, Germany

Saalfeld is a town in Germany, capital of the Saalfeld-Rudolstadt district of Thuringia. It is best known internationally as the ancestral seat of the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha branch of the Saxon House of Wettin, which was renamed the House of Windsor during their British reign in 1917.

Strehla Place in Saxony, Germany

Strehla is a small town in the district of Meißen, Saxony, Germany. It is located on the river Elbe, north of Riesa. This place name means arrow in Sorbian. Strehla includes the following subdivisions:

Mühlberg, Brandenburg Place in Brandenburg, Germany

Mühlberg is a town in the Elbe-Elster district, in the southwesternmost part of Brandenburg, Germany. It is located on the right bank of the river Elbe, about halfway between Riesa to the south and Torgau to the northwest. It is about 60 km east of Leipzig. It is accessed by the Bundesstraße 182 on the left bank of the Elbe, connected with the town by a bridge, opened in 2008. Mühlberg consists of the Ortsteile Mühlberg, Altenau, Brottewitz, Fichtenberg, Koßdorf and Martinskirchen.

Oschatz Place in Saxony, Germany

Oschatz is a town in the district Nordsachsen, in the Free State of Saxony, Germany. It is located 60 km east of Leipzig and 60 km west of Dresden.

Ernestine duchies A set of related states in Germany

The Ernestine duchies, also known as the Saxon duchies, were a changing number of small states that were largely located in the present-day German state of Thuringia and governed by dukes of the Ernestine line of the House of Wettin.

Eilenburg Place in Saxony, Germany

Eilenburg is a town in Germany. It lies in the district of Nordsachsen in the Free State of Saxony, approximately 20 km northeast of the city of Leipzig.

Landsberg, Saxony-Anhalt Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Landsberg is a town in the Saalekreis in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Electorate of Saxony

The Electorate of Saxony was a state of the Holy Roman Empire established when Emperor Charles IV raised the Ascanian duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg to the status of an Electorate by the Golden Bull of 1356. Upon the extinction of the House of Ascania, it was feoffed to the Margraves of Meissen from the Wettin dynasty in 1423, who moved the ducal residence up the river Elbe to Dresden. After the Empire's dissolution in 1806, the Wettin Electors raised Saxony to a territorially reduced kingdom.

Duke Friedrich of Saxe-Altenburg

Friedrich of Saxe-Altenburg was a member of the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin and a Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg. Friedrich is sometimes called "Friedrich the younger" to distinguish him from Prince Frederick of Saxe-Weimar, as they were both called "Friedrich of Saxe-Weimar".

Duke Johann Wilhelm of Saxe-Altenburg was a member of the Ernestine branch of the House of Wettin and a titular Duke of Saxe-Altenburg and of Jülich-Cleves-Berg.

Stalag IV-D

Stalag IV-D was a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp located in the town of Torgau, Saxony, about 50 km (31 mi) north-east of Leipzig.

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of the most well-preserved medieval fortresses of Germany. It is situated on a hill above the town of Coburg, in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria.

Belgern-Schildau Place in Saxony, Germany

Belgern-Schildau is a town in the district Nordsachsen, in Saxony, Germany. It was formed on 1 January 2013 by the merger of the former towns Belgern and Schildau. It is located on the left bank of the Elbe, south of Torgau and east of Leipzig.

Nikolaus Gromann

Nikolaus Gromann was an architect of the German Renaissance who served at the court of John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony. He also worked for John Frederick's descendants residing in the cities of Weimar, Gotha and Altenburg, thus spending more than 30 years in the service of the House of Wettin.


  1. "Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen nach Gemeinden am 31. Dezember 2019". Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen (in German). July 2020.
  2. "Torgau at the Center of the Military Penal System".
  3. "Schmidt,Oskar"  . New International Encyclopedia . 1905.
  4. IMDb Database retrieved 21 September 2019