Achern is a city in Western Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is located approximately 18 km southwest of Baden-Baden and 19 km northeast of Offenburg. Achern is the fourth largest city in the county of Ortenau (Ortenaukreis), after Offenburg, Lahr / Black Forest and Kehl.
As subsequent to the district reform in the 1970s the population passed the 20,000 mark, Achern requested to be awarded the status of . The status was granted by the State government effective January 1, 1974. Achern collaborates with the communities of Lauf, Sasbach, and Sasbachwalden in administrative matters.
Besides Achern itself, the municipality includes the boroughs of Fautenbach, Gamshurst, Großweier, Mösbach, Oberachern, Önsbach, Sasbachried and Wagshurst.
Achern was first mentioned in 1095 as Acchara and developed later into Oberachern and Niederachern. Eventually, Niederachern was referred to only as Achern. During the High Middle Ages the town became part of the German Reich, courtesy of the Staufenberger and Zähringer families, and was included in the Landsvogtei of Ortenau. In 1334, together with Ortenau Achern became part of Baden, in 1351 it went to Strasbourg, in 1405 to the Electorate of the Palatinate, and in 1504 to Fürstenberg. In 1551 the town became part of Further Austria and part of the Reichlandsvogtei Ortenau. In 1495 and then again in 1637 Achern burned to the ground and was uninhabited for several years thereafter.
In 1805 Achern again became part of what was then the Grand Duchy of Baden and was made a district court seat. In 1808 it was awarded City status. In 1924 the district of Achern was dissolved and became part of the district of Bühl which was awarded County status in 1939.
After World War II, Bühl County was part of the State of Baden and from 1952 part of the Regierungsbezirk of South Baden. Pursuant to the district reform Bühl County was dissolved, effective January 1, 1973. Its southern part — and with it the city of Achern — was made part of the newly created Ortenaukreis.
History of the boroughs
The boroughs all came under the rule of Baden in 1805 largely as part of the district of Achern. Exceptions are Mösbach, which first belonged to the district of Oberkirch and was joined into the Achern district in 1859, and Wagshurst, which first belonged to the district of Appenweier and became part of the Achern district in 1819. When the district of Achern was dissolved in 1924, all of its communities except Wagshurst were joined with the district, and in 1939, County of Bühl. Wagshurst became part of the County of Kehl.
In the beginning Achern was part of the diocese of Strasbourg. As a consequence of its belonging to Further Austria, the Reformation did not take hold. Achern and its surrounding area therefore remained almost exclusively Catholic throughout the centuries. In 1803 the communities were joined with the diocese of Konstanz before it became part of the newly-created archdiocese of Freiburg in 1821 through 1827. The villages then belonged to the district of Ottersweier but in 1929 Achern became its own district with the Catholic city church (Stadtkirche) as its seat. Additional Catholic communities, whose churches were elevated to parishes early on, exist in almost all boroughs. Only Mösbach didn't become a parish until 1865 and Sasbachried is still serviced by the neighboring parish of Sasbach. All parishes now belong to the Acher-Renchtal district within the archdiocese of Freiburg.
At the dawn of the 19th century, Protestants started to move into Achern. The first Protestant service was held in 1842 in the Illenau hospital. The Protestant parish of Achern, founded in 1892, was able to build its church, the Christuskirche, in 1908 and 1909. The Protestant parish also serves the boroughs of Oberachern, Fautenbach, Gamshurst, Großweier and Sasbachried as well as the neighboring towns of Sasbach, Obersasbach and Lauf. The boroughs of Önsbach, Mösbach and Wagshurst on the other hand, are part of the parish of Renchen. The Protestant parish of Achern first belonged to the district of Rheinbischofsheim, and later on to the districts of Baden-Baden and Rastatt. The parish of Renchen belongs to the district of Kehl within the Protestant diocese of Baden. Finally, the Josua-Christian parish and the Christian parish Sasbachried are the two independent churches in Achern.
The following villages and areas were incorporated into the city of Achern:
Figures reflect the city limits at the time and are estimates or Census data (¹), or official extensions thereof, counting only primary residences.
¹ Census result