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182.81 km2

89,934 (2007)


Dessau Beautiful Landscapes of Dessau

Urban districts of Germany

Map of Dessau

Dessau is a town and former municipality in Germany on the junction of the rivers Mulde and Elbe, in the Bundesland (Federal State) of Saxony-Anhalt. Since 1 July 2007, it has been part of the newly created municipality of Dessau-Roßlau. Population of Dessau proper: 77,973 (June 2006).


Dessau in the past, History of Dessau

Walter gropius the dessau bauhaus


Dessau in the past, History of Dessau

Dessau is situated on a floodplain where the Mulde flows into the Elbe. This causes yearly floods. The worst flood took place in the year 2002, when the Waldersee district was nearly completely flooded. The south of Dessau touches a well-wooded area called Mosigkauer Heide. The highest elevation is a 110 m high former rubbish dump called Scherbelberg in the southwest of Dessau. Dessau is surrounded by numerous parks and palaces that ranks Dessau as one of the greenest towns in Germany.



Dessau was first mentioned in 1213. It became an important centre in 1570, when the Principality of Anhalt was founded. Dessau became the capital of this state within the Holy Roman Empire. In 1603 the state was split into four – later five – Anhalts, Dessau becoming the capital of the mini-state of Anhalt-Dessau. In 1863 two of the noble lines died out, and the Duchy of Anhalt became reunited. From 1918 to 1945, Dessau was the capital of Free State of Anhalt.

Dessau is famous for its college of architecture Bauhaus. It moved here in 1925 after it had been forced to close in Weimar. Many famous artists were lecturers in Dessau in the following years, among them Walter Gropius, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. The Nazis forced the closure of the Bauhaus in 1931, and it was not reopened until 1986.

The town was almost completely destroyed by Allied air raids in World War II on 7 March 1945, six weeks before American troops occupied the town. Afterwards it was rebuilt with typical GDR concrete slab architecture (Plattenbau) and became a major industrial centre of East Germany. Since German reunification in 1990 many historic buildings have been restored.

The composer Kurt Weill was born in Dessau. Since 1993 the city has hosted an annual Kurt Weill Festival. Dessau was also the birthplace of the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (in 1729), and Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (der alte Dessauer) (on 3 July 1676), a lauded field marshal for the Kingdom of Prussia.

In January 2005, Dessau gained notoriety for the mysterious death of a Sierra Leonean convicted drug trafficker and failed asylum seeker Oury Jalloh in his cell at a Dessau police station. According to local police, Jalloh, who was drunk and had been tied to his bed because he was volatile and violent, set his own mattress on fire, causing his own death as he burned alive. A number of contradictions and inconsistencies as well as the disappearance of key evidence such as video tapes have led to allegations that the police and maybe even the local court may have been involved in Jalloh's death and subsequent cover-up efforts. A local court acquitted officers in 2008. In 2010, however, a higher federal court declared the ruling null and void, and ordered a new investigation and trial be launched.

Castles and gardens

  • Dessau-Wörlitzer Gartenreich with Landscape Garden Groß Kühnau, Oranienbaum, Sieglitzer Berg, Leiner Berg, Wörlitzer Park and numerous Monuments like the Drehberg (recorded in the UNESCO World Heritage)
  • Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve (protected by UNESCO)
  • Zoo at Mausoleumspark
  • Wallwitzburg
  • Rondell
  • remains of the City Castle (Johannbau)
  • Georgium Palace and Park
  • Kühnau Palace and Park
  • Mosigkau Palace and Park
  • Luisium Palace and Park
  • The Bauhaus

    There are several examples of Bauhaus architecture in Dessau, some of them included in the UNESCO World Heritage. The Bauhaus college itself was constructed based on designs by Walter Adolph Georg Gropius.

  • Bauhaus Dessau Museum, with audiovisual guidance
  • Meisterhäuser (Masters' Houses):
  • Feininger House (Kurt Weill Centre)
  • Muche-Schlemmer House
  • Klee-Kandinsky House
  • Gropius House (destroyed in WWII but rebuilt)
  • Dessau-Törten Estate with Co-op building and Stahlhaus (House of Steel), Laubenganghäuser and Fieger Haus
  • Kornhaus, constructed by Carl Fieger in 1930 as a restaurant overlooking the river Elbe, still in operation
  • Arbeitsamt (employment office, by Gropius), now the municipal public order office
  • Churches

  • St. Mary's Church
  • St. John's Church
  • Georgenkirche
  • Petruskirche
  • Auferstehungskirche
  • Pauluskirche
  • Christuskirche
  • Propsteikirche St. Peter and Paul
  • Dreieinigkeit
  • St. Josef
  • Other sights

  • Townhall, built in 1901
  • The palaces of Waldersee and Dietrich, today used as libraries
  • General post office
  • New water tower
  • Umweltbundesamt (formerly Wörlitzer Bahnhof)
  • Footbridge crossing the river Mulde
  • Theatres and museums

  • Anhalt Theatre including Gregor Seyffert & Compagnie
  • City history museum
  • Anhalt Art Gallery at Georgium Palace with park (currently closed)
  • Mosigkau Palace museum
  • Luisium Castle museum with park
  • Oranienbaum Palace museum with park
  • Museum of Natural- and Prehistory
  • Moses Mendelssohn-Centre
  • Hugo Junkers Technical Museum
  • UCI Cinema Complex
  • Kiez-Cinema (one of the smallest Cinemas in Germany)
  • Regional media

  • Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (daily newspaper, Monday-Saturday)
  • Wochenspiegel (free newspaper on Wednesday) and Supersonntag (free newspaper on Sunday)
  • REGJO (quarterly Economy Journal for the Region of Leipzig/Halle)
  • leo (monthly, regional Event- and Culture Magazine)
  • local Studios of the MDR and SAW (Radiostations)
  • local TV Stations: RAN 1 and Offener Kanal Dessau
  • Public transport

    The Dessau tramway network has three lines and is supplemented by numerous bus lines. Dessau's public transport is operated by Dessauer Verkehrsgesellschaft (DVG), which transports around 6 million people each year.

    Railway stations

    Dessau Hauptbahnhof (main station) has connections to Magdeburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Bitterfeld and Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The line from Berlin was opened on 1 September 1840. The Dessau-Bitterfeld line (opened on 17 August 1857) was electrified in 1911, the first fully electrified long-distance railway in Germany. Dessau was part of the InterCity long distance network until the year 2002. Regional trains also stop at the stations Dessau-Süd, Dessau-Alten, Dessau-Mosigkau and Rodleben. The Dessau-Wörlitzer-Eisenbahn (railway) connects Dessau to Wörlitz, a town situated 15 km to the east, and the Wörlitzer Park. Starting point of this railway is the main station. This train also stops at the stations Dessau-Waldersee and Dessau-Adria.


    In 1938 the autobahn A9 (Munich-Berlin) was built southeast of the town area. The two exits to Dessau on the A9 are called "Dessau-Ost" and "Dessau-Süd". Dessau is also crossed by the "Bundesstrassen" (federal roads) B 184 and B 185.

    The airfield

    The airfield of Dessau is situated northwest of the town between the districts Kleinkühnau, Alten and Siedlung. A destination with a charter airplane is possible. The runway has a length of 1000 m. The Hugo Junkers Technical Museum is situated in the neighbourhood (directly east) of the airfield, which has the eastern end of the modern runway almost directly abutting the historical World War II Junkers factory airstrip's western end.


    Today the "Leopoldshafen" (harbour) is used for the annual international motorboat racing events. The "Wallwitzhafen" is used as a private sportboat harbour and the "Elbehafen" near the Grain House is used for cruisers. The next harbour for goods is situated in Rosslau.


    Dessau, is located in the flat landscape of the Saxon Lowland. The bike roads have a length of about 146 km and connect all the parks and sights.


    Sports like soccer, cycling, handball, volleyball, gymnastics, table tennis and tennis have a long tradition and are very popular in Dessau. The former soccer team "SG Waggonbau Dessau" won the GDR soccer cup in 1949. The handball team played in the GDR "Oberliga" and since 1990 they are playing in the 1st and 2nd "Bundesliga". Currently, Dessau has around 80 sport clubs with over 13,500 members. Next to the traditional sports, Dessau has active sport clubs in the following disciplines: aikido, badminton, basketball, canoeing, chess, climbing, cycling, dancing, fishing, horse riding, karate, judo, jiu-jitsu, motorboat, rowing, speedskating, sailing, skittles, skydiving, squash, swimming, table tennis, water polo, wrestling and others.


  • Numerous Sports Fields (more than 10)
  • Skittle Alleys (6)
  • Tennis Courts (3)
  • Boathouses (3)
  • Indoor Swimming Pools (2)
  • Paul-Greifzu-Stadion (for 22,000 viewers)
  • Speedskating Course
  • Climbing Tower Zuckerturm
  • Anhalt Arena Dessau (for 3,600 viewers)
  • Airfield Dessau
  • Rifle Range
  • Governance

    The borough of Dessau is mentioned first in 1372. The Head of the Town called "Schultheiss" was constituted by the Earl. Together with a few assessors the "Schultheiss" formed the Town Council. As of 1372 the Town Council was divided in 2 agencies. As of 1600 in three agencies and as of 1785 again in two agencies. The "Schultheiss" of Dessau changed nearly every year until the Town Council Constitution was cancelled in 1832. Afterwards Dessau became a Town Council and a Town Delegation Constitution. Since 1852 the Head of the Town is called Mayor. During the National Socialist period the Mayor was constituted by the party (NSDAP). After World War II the Soviets formed an Executive Council with a Mayor. The Town Council Constitution was elected by the people. Since the German reunification this committee is elected free. And since 1994 it's called "Stadtrat" (Town Council). The Mayor has been directly elected by the people since 1994.


    Peter Kuras (born 1958) was elected mayor in June 2014 with 75,82 % of the votes for a term of seven years. He is the successor of Klemens Koschig (born 1957, independent), who was elected in 2007 with 56,8 % of the votes.

    Town Council (Stadtrat)

    Consists of the following parties: (Local Elections from 25 May 2014)

  • CDU (14 seats),
  • The Left (11 seats)
  • The Greens (3 seats)
  • SPD (7 seats)
  • Pro Dessau (5 seats)
  • AfD (3 seats)
  • FDP (2 seats)
  • Neues Forum: (2 seats)
  • Bürgerliste (2 seats)
  • NPD 1 seat
  • Town twinning

  • Argenteuil, France, since 1959
  • Klagenfurt, Austria, since 1971
  • Ludwigshafen, Rhineland-Palatinate, since 1988
  • Gliwice, Poland, since 1992
  • Ibbenbüren, North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Roudnice nad Labem, Czech Republic
  • Education

  • Anhalt University of Applied Sciences (Architecture, Facility Management, Design and Geoinformatics)
  • Learning Centre from the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (Halle/ Dessau)
  • Anhalt Vocational School Centre Hugo Junkers I, II and III (Chapon-School)
  • Grammar School "Walter Gropius"
  • Grammar School "Liborius"
  • Grammar School "Philantropinum"
  • European subsidies

    Dessau is part of the EU-URBAN programme. This programme is based on the integrated approach that is used for tackling the environmental, economical and social problems, affecting the deprived urban areas. There are several projects in Dessau sponsored via this subsidy.

    Notable people

  • August Klughardt (1847-1902), composer and conductor
  • Thomas Kretschmann (born 1962), Hollywood actor
  • Dieter Hallervorden (born 1935), famous comedian, cabaret artist and singer, honorary citizen of Dessau
  • Hugo Junkers (1859-1935), German engineer and airplane designer, constructed first airplane totally made from metal, the Junkers J 1 in 1915 - founded the Junkers & Co-airplane-factory
  • Johannes Winkler (1897-1947), launched the first liquid-fuelled rocket in Europe at Dessau airfield
  • Pedigrees of Dessauer, such as Josef Dessauer (1798-1876)
  • Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (1767-1747), ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Dessau from 1693 to 1747.
  • Heinrich Schwabe (1798-1875), astronomer remembered for his work on sunspots
  • Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), German Jewish philosopher, father of Haskalah
  • Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827), famous for the Lieder of Franz Schubert
  • Julius Schubring (1839-1914), classical scholar
  • Herbert Tobias (1924-1982), photographer
  • Kurt Weill (1900-1950), composer, worked together with Bertolt Brecht
  • Born in Dessau before 1900

  • George III, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (1507-1553), prince
  • Bernhard VII, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst (1540-1570), prince
  • John Casimir, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (1596-1660), prince
  • Heinrich Schwabe (1789-1875), astronomer and botanist
  • Friedrich von Olivier (1791-1859), painter of Romanticism
  • Ludwig Philippson (1811-1889), writer and rabbi, founder of Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums
  • Wilhelm Rust (1822-1892), composer, musicologist, Bach researcher and choirmaster
  • Max Müller (1823-1900), linguist and one of the founders of the Sanskrit - Research
  • Friedrich Grützmacher (1832-1903), cellist and composer
  • Princess Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau (1833-1916), Duchess of Nassau and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
  • Henriette Johanne Marie Müller (1841-1916), Hamburg character
  • Wilhelm Schröter (1849-1904), landscape painter
  • Gustav Lindau (1866-1923), mycologist and botanist
  • After 1900, born in Dessau

  • Gerhard Nebel (1903-1974), writer, essayist and cultural critic
  • Hans von Ohain (1911-1998), physicist, father of the jet engine
  • Ursula Herking (1912-1974), actress and cabaret artist
  • Gerhard Stolze (1926-1979), tenor
  • Karl-Heinz Kämmerling (1930-2012), professor of piano
  • Gernot Böhme (born 1937), philosopher
  • Ameli Koloska (1944), athlete and Olympian
  • Emil Schult (born 1946), painter, poet and musician
  • Thomas Kretschmann (born 1962), actor
  • Annette Schlünz (born 1964), composer
  • Danny Fuchs (born 1976), football player Bundesliga
  • References

    Dessau Wikipedia