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Heidelberg, Germany

When Americans arrived in Heidelberg on March 30th, 1945, they found most of the historical structures intact. Heidelberg became the home of the Army's European Headquarters, 7th Army Reserve Command, and 5th Corps Headquarters.

The Heidelberg Kasernes were built between 1850 and 1939. Some of the most respected German Military units were once stationed in Heidelberg, including the 110th German Infantry Division. This was an elite division that fought through some of the most devastating and major battles of the First World War, as well as on the Russian Front in 1941, and later, as elements of Rommel's famous Afrika Korps.

At the end of the Second World War, the U.S. Third Army under another famous soldier, General George S. Patton, took and occupied this area of Germany. Patton became the first peacetime commander of American Forces in Heidelberg.

Today, there are approximately 16,000 military members, dependents and Department of Defense civilians living and working in Heidelberg.

The Heidelberg military community currently consists of 16 installations and 30 plus tenant units. Major tenant commands include: Headquarters, United States Army Europe and 7th Army; Headquarters, 5th Corps; Joint Headquarters Center (formally LANDCENT); 1st Personnel Support Command, and Headquarters Contracting Command, to name a few.

Heidelberg is a romantic city located on the Neckar River which occupies a magnificent position astride the natural gateway formed by the Konigstuhl and the Heiligenberg ("Holy Mount"). It is dominated by the mighty ruins of the castle, which for five centuries was the glittering residence of the Palatine Prince Electors. Regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, its intellectual life is stimulated by the university, the oldest in present-day Germany. This happy combination of castle, river and ancient city set amidst mountains, forests and vineyards, which so enthralled the poets and writers of the Romantic movement, still continues to exert its unchanging charm down to the present day.

Heidelberg is a city very rich in culture and international in its tastes, due to the famed Heidelberg University with a large number of foreign students, and its status as a favored international tourist destination.

Heidelberg is centrally located in Germany, with the cities such as Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Nürnberg and Munich only being a few hours away by train. It is also a short trip to France and cities such as Strasbourg not far away, and Paris only a few hours farther.

The University of Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany. In honor of Ruprecht I of the Palatinate, who founded it in 1386, and Grand Duke Charles Frederick of Baden, who made it into Baden's first national university in 1803, it now bears the full title of "Ruprecht-Karls-Universität" (Ruperto Carola). Today, the University of Heidelberg is confronted with the necessity of finding answers to the problems caused by the ongoing process of specialization of the sciences and the constantly growing student body: the "Ruperto Carola" is one of the most popular German universities. Presently, more than 34,000 students are enrolled.


600,000 years - that is the estimate age of the Heidelberg Man whose jaw bone was discovered in 1907 at nearby Mauer, one of the earliest pieces of evidence of human life in Europe.

The region was later settled by Celtic tribes, and it was eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire. Since 40 AD, there had been in what is now the municipal district of Neuenheim, a fort occupied by the 24th Roman Cohort and the 2nd Cyrenaican cohort (CCG XXIIII and CCH II CYR). Their camp was overrun by the Germanic confederation known to the Romans as the Alemani in the year 260. This was part of a massive onslaught over the Limes border fortifications that caused the Roman empire to permanently pull back its border to the west bank of the Rhein River.

In the year 764 Lorsch Monastery was erected. In the year 863 the monastery of St. Michael was founded on the Heiligenberg ("Holy Mount") inside a double Celtic rampart (dating from 5 B.C.), and around 1130, Neuburg Monastery was built in the Neckar Valley At the same time, the bishopric of Worms extended its influence into the valley, founding Schönau Monastery in 1142. It was from a tiny hamlet at the foot of a Worms castle that Heidelberg eventually developed. In 1196 Heidelberg was mentioned for the first time in a document in Schönau Monastery.

In 1386 the Count Palatine, Ruprecht I, one of the seven Imperial Prince Electors, founded Heidelberg University, which played a leading part in the era of humanism and reformation and in the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in the 15th and 16th centuries. A few months after the proclamation of his 95 theses Martin Luther was received, in April 1518, with high honors in Heidelberg, where he defended the theses.

In 1618 the Protestant Elector, Friedrich V, accepted the Bohemian crown. He is known as the "Winter King," as he only reigned for one winter. When he left to fight for the crown of Bohemia, his forces were crushed in the battle of Weissenberg near Prague, one of the major events of the devastating Thirty Year's War. With that defeat, he lost the electorship, which passed to the Catholic Maximilian of Bavaria. This marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. In 1622, after a siege lasting two months, Tilly captured Heidelberg. He gave the famous Bibliotheca Palatina from the Church of the Holy Ghost to the Pope as a present.

In 1649 Friedrich's son, Karl Ludwig, was able to return to the royal residence. In 1671, in order to strengthen his dynastic power, he married his daughter Liselotte ("Liselotte of the Palatinate") to the Duke of Orleans.

In 1685, after the death of Liselotte's brother, Louis XIV laid claim to her inheritance. The claim was rejected, and war ensued. In 1689 the castle and the city were captured by French troops and, in 1693, almost totally destroyed.

In 1720 religious conflicts with the citizens of Heidelberg caused the Prince Elector Carl Philipp to transfer his residence to Mannheim, where it remained until the Elector Karl Theodor became Elector of Bavaria in 1777 and established his court in Munich.

In the 18th century the city was rebuilt on the old Gothic layout, but in Baroque style.

In 1803 the Grand Duke Karl Friedrich of Baden re-founded the University, entitled, after its two founders, Ruperto Carola. Notable scholars soon earned it a reputation as a "royal residence of the intellect."

In 1815 the Emperor of Austria, the Tsar of Russia and the King of Prussia formed the "Holy Alliance" in Heidelberg.

In 1848 it was decided here to convene a German National Assembly

In 1849, during the Palatinate-Baden rebellion, Heidelberg was the headquarters of a revolutionary army which was defeated by a Prussian army near Waghäusel. The city was occupied by Prussian troops until 1850.

Between 1920 and 1933 Heidelberg University's reputation was enhanced by a number of notable physicians (Czerny, Erb, Krehl) and humanists (Rohde, Weber, Gundolf).

In the Second World War Heidelberg escaped bombing. In 1945, thanks to the surgeon Karl Heinrich Bauer and the philosopher Karl Jaspers, the University reopened.

Today, Heidelberg has a population of 138,000 and more than 34,000 students.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:49:15 ZULU