Haguenau is a rapidly growing city, its population having increased from 22,644 inhabitants in 1968 to 34,891 inhabitants in 2006. Haguenau's metropolitan area has grown even faster in that period, going from 43,904 inhabitants in 1968 to 64,562 inhabitants in 2006.
Haguenau dates from the beginning of the 12th century, and owes its origin to the erection, by the dukes of Swabia, of a hunting lodge on an island in the Moder River in former Germany. The medieval German King and Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa fortified the settlement and gave it town rights, important for further development, in 1154. On the site of the hunting lodge he founded an imperial palace he chose as his favourite residence. In this palace were preserved the "Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire", i.e. the jewelled imperial crown, sceptre, imperial orb, and sword of Charlemagne.
Richard of Cornwall, King of the Romans, made it an imperial city in 1257. Subsequently trough Rudolph I of Germany (House of Habsburg) Haguenau became the seat of the Landvogt of Hagenau, the German imperial advocatus in Lower Alsace. In the 14th century, it housed the executive council of the Decapole, a defensive and offensive association of ten German towns in Alsace against French aggression and related political instability. In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the Alsace was ceded to France, which had repeatedly invaded and looted the region before. In 1673 King Louis XIV had the fortifications as well as the remains of the kings palace razed in order to extinguish German traditions. Haguenau was recaptured by German troops in 1675, but it was taken by the French two years later, nearly being destroyed by fire set by French troops when looting.
1793 Prussians and Austrians had occupied Lower Alsace from the Lauter to Moder to support the Royalists and before the year's end were driven back over the border by the French Revolutionary Army, causing the “great flight”.
World War II
In the Second World War, Germany retook the city in 1940 and held it until 1945 when, through the efforts of the U.S. Army, which conquered Haguenau, the town was returned to France. During the occupation the airport was enlarged and heavily used by both sides.
On 1 December 1944, the 314th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division, XV Corps, 7th U.S. Army, moved into the area near Haguenau, and on 7 December the regiment was given the assignment to take the city and the forest (Forêt de Haguenau) just north that included German ammunition dumps. The attack began at 0645, 9 December, and sometime during the night of 10 December and the early morning of 11 December the Germans withdrew under of the cover of darkness leaving the city proper largely under American control. Before they withdrew, the Germans demolished bridges, useful buildings, and even the town park. However, as experienced by Haguenau throughout its history, the Germans came back and retook the town in late January. Most of the inhabitants fled with the assistance of the U.S. Army. The Americans launched an immediate counterattack to retake the town. The 313th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Division was relieved by the 506th PIR of the 101st Airborne Division on 5 February 1945. The 36th Infantry Division would relieve the 101st on 23 February 1945. The last German soldier was not cleared out of the town until March 19, 1945, after brutal house-to-house fighting. Much of the town had been destroyed despite the Allied reluctance to use artillery to clear out the Germans. The city is the site where Medal of Honor recipient Morris E. Crain (Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company E, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division) earned the medal at the cost of his life to give covering fire for his men on 13 March 1945.