Ansbach, originally Onolzbach (On'z-bach, "-brook"), also known initially as Anspach, is a city in Bavaria, Germany. It is the capital of the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Ansbach is situated southwest of Nuremberg and north of Munich, on the Fränkische Rezat (Rezat River), a tributary of the Main river. As of 2004, its population was 40,723.
Developed in the 8th century as a Benedictine monastery, it later became the seat of the Hohenzollern family in 1331. Later in 1460 Margraves of Branderberg–Anspach lived here. Ansbach is also home to a US military base. It was not badly damaged during the World Wars and hence retains its original historical baroque sheen. The city also has a castle known as Margrafen–Schloss, built between 1704-1738.
Ansbach is location of the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences. The city has connections via autobahn A6 and highways B13 and B14. Ansbach station is on the Nürnberg–Crailsheim and Treuchtlingen–Würzburg railways and is the terminus of line S4 of the Nuremberg S-Bahn.
A Benedictine monastery at the place was founded around 748 by a Frankish noble, Gumbertus, who was later canonized. In the following centuries the monastery and the adjoining village (Onoldsbach) grew to become the town of Ansbach (called a town in 1221 for the first time).
The counts of Oettingen ruled over Ansbach until the Hohenzollern burgraves of Nuremberg took over in 1331. The Hohenzollerns made Ansbach the seat of their dynasty until their acquisition of the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1415. However, after the 1440 death of Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg, the Franconian cadet branch of the family was not politically united with the main Brandenburg line, remaining independent as "Brandenburg-Ansbach".
In 1792 Ansbach was annexed by the Hohenzollerns of Prussia. In 1796 the Duke of Zweibrücken, Maximilian Joseph, the future Bavarian king Max I. Joseph, was exiled to Ansbach after Zweibrücken had been taken by the French. In Ansbach Maximilian von Montgelas wrote an elaborate concept for the future political organisation of Bavaria, which is known as the "Ansbacher Mémoire". In 1806 Prussia ceded Ansbach and the Principality of Ansbach to Bavaria in exchange for the Bavarian duchy of Berg. At the end of the 17th century, the margraves' palace at Ansbach was rebuilt in Baroque style.
Jewish families were resident in Ansbach from at least the end of the 18th century. They set up a Jewish Cemetery in the Ruglaender Strasse, which was vandalised and razed under the Nazi tyranny. It was repaired in 1946, but it was damaged several times more. A plaque on the wall of the cemetery commemorates these events. The Jewish Congregation built its synagogue at No 3 Rosenbadstrasse, but it too was damaged by the SA, though it was not burnt down for fear of damaging the neighbouring buildings. It serves today as a "Symbolic House of God". A plaque in the entrance serves as a memorial to the synagogue and to Jewish residents who were murdered during the Holocaust.
In 1940, at least 500 patients were deported from the Heil- und Pflegeanstalt Ansbach [Ansbach Medical and Nursing Clinic] to the extermination facilities Sonnenstein and Hartheim which were disguised as psychiatric institutions, as part of the Action T4 euthanasia action. They were gassed there. At the clinic in Ansbach itself, around 50 intellectually disabled children were injected with the drug Luminal and killed that way. A plaque was erected in their memory in 1988 in the local hospital at No. 38 Feuchtwangerstrasse.
During World War II, a subcamp of Flossenbürg concentration camp was located here. Also during the Second World War the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht had bases here. The nearby airbase was the home station for the Stab & I/KG53 (Staff & 1st Group of Kampfgeschwader 53) operating 38 Heinkel He 111 bombers. On 1 September 1939 this unit was one of the many that participated in the attack on Poland that started the war. During the Western Allied invasion of Germany in April 1945, the airfield was seized by the United States Third Army, and used by the USAAF 354th Fighter Group which flew P-47 Thunderbolts from the aerodrome (designated ALG R-82) from late April until the German capitulation on 7 May 1945.
At the end of the war, 19-year old student Robert Limpert tried to get the town to surrender to the US Forces without a fight. He was betrayed by Hitler Youth and was hung from the portal of the City Hall by the city's military commander, Col. (Oberst) Ernst Meyer. Several memorials to his heroic deed have been erected over the years, despite opposition from some residents — in the Ludwigskirche, in the Gymnasium Carolinum and at No 6 Kronenstrasse.
After the Second World War, Ansbach belonged to the American Zone. The American Military authorities established a displaced persons (DP) camp in what used to be a sanatorium in what is today the Strüth quarter. Bachwoche Ansbach has been held in Ansbach since 1947.
Since 1970, Ansbach has enlarged its municipal area by incorporating adjacent communities.
Ansbach was a small town largely by-passed by the Industrial Revolution, an administrative and cultural center. Although all bridges were destroyed, the historical center of Ansbach was spared during World War II and it has kept its baroque character.
Ansbach hosts several units of the U.S. armed forces, associated with German units under NATO. There are five separate U.S. installations: Shipton Kaserne, home to 412th Aviation Support Battalion, Katterbach Kaserne, formally the home of the 1st Infantry Division's 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, which has been replaced by the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade as of 2006, as part of the 1st Infantry Division's return to Fort Riley, Kansas; Bismarck Kaserne, which functions as a satellite post to Katterbach, hosting their Post Theater, barracks, Von Steuben Community Center, Military Police, and other support agencies, Barton Barracks, home to the USAG Ansbach and Bleidorn Barracks, which has a library and housing, and Urlas, which hosts the Post Exchange as well as a housing area opened in 2010.
Ansbach was also home to the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division (United States) from 1972 to the early 1990s.