Up to the 19th century
The first known settlement of Stuttgart was around the end of the 1st century AD with the establishment of a Roman fort in the modern district of Cannstatt on the banks of the river Neckar. Early in the 3rd century the Romans were pushed by the Alamanni back past the Rhine and the Danube. Although nothing is known about Cannstatt during the period of Barbarian Invasion it is believed that the area remained inhabited as it is mentioned in Abbey of St. Gall archives dating back to 700 AD.
Stuttgart itself was probably founded around 950 AD shortly before the Battle of Lechfeld by Duke Liudolf of Swabia, one of the sons of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I the Great. The town was used for breeding cavalry horses in fertile meadows at the very centre of today's city, although recent archaeological excavations indicate that this area was already home to Merovingian farmers.
A gift registry from Hirsau Abbey dated around 1160 mentioned 'Hugo de Stuokarten', confirmation of the existence of the Stuttgart of today.
Around 1300, Stuttgart became the residence of the Counts of Württemberg, who expanded the growing settlement and made it the capital of their territory (Territorialstaat). Stuttgart was elevated to the status of a city in 1321 when it became the official royal residence. The territory around Stuttgart was known as the County of Württemberg before the counts were elevated to the rank of duke by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1495, when Stuttgart became the Duchy capital and Ducal residence.
The name Württemberg originates from a steep hill in Stuttgart, formerly known as Wirtemberg.
In the 18th century, Stuttgart temporarily surrendered its residence status after Eberhard Ludwig founded Ludwigsburg to the north of the city. In 1775, Karl Eugen requested a return to Stuttgart, ordering the construction of the New Castle.
19th and early 20th centuries
In 1803, Stuttgart was proclaimed capital of the Electorate of Württemberg until Napoleon Bonaparte's break-up of the Holy Roman Empire in 1805 when Stuttgart became capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg. The royal residence was expanded under Frederick I of Württemberg although many of Stuttgart's most important buildings, including the Wilhelm Palace, Katharina Hospital, the State Gallery, the Villa Berg and the Königsbau were built under the reign of King Wilhelm I. The jubilee column (erected between 1841 and 1846) on the Schlossplatz is located on the orthodromic distance line from the church of St. Michael in Roeselare over the Kokino observatory to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
Stuttgart's development as a city was impeded in the 19th century by its location. It was not until the opening of the Main Station in 1846 that the city underwent an economic revival. The population at the time was around 50,000.
During the revolution of 1848/1849, a democratic pan-German national parliament (Frankfurt Parliament) was formed in Frankfurt to overcome the division of Germany. After long discussions, the parliament decided to offer the title of the German emperor to King Frederick William IV of Prussia. As the democratic movement became weaker, the German princes regained control of their independent states. Finally, the Prussian king declined the revolutionaries' offer. The members of parliament were driven out of Frankfurt and the most radical members (who wanted to establish a republic) fled to Stuttgart. A short while later, this rump parliament was dissolved by the Württemberg military.
By 1871 Stuttgart boasted 91,000 inhabitants, and by the time Gottlieb Daimler invented the automobile in a small workshop in Cannstatt, the population had risen rapidly to 176,000.
At the end of the First World War the Württemberg monarchy broke down: William II of Württemberg refused the crown – but also refused to abdicate – under pressure from revolutionaries who stormed the Wilhelm Palace. The Free State of Württemberg was established, as a part of the Weimar Republic. Stuttgart was proclaimed the capital.
In 1920 Stuttgart became the seat of the German National Government (after the administration fled from Berlin, see Kapp Putsch).
World War II
Under the Nazi regime, Stuttgart began the deportation of its Jewish inhabitants in 1939. Around sixty percent of the German Jewish population had fled by the time restrictions on their movement were imposed on 1 October 1941, at which point Jews living in Württemberg were forced to live in 'Jewish apartments' before being 'concentrated' on the former Trade Fair grounds in Killesberg. On 1 December 1941 the first deportation trains were organised to Riga. Only 180 Jews from Württemberg held in concentration camps survived.
During the period of Nazi rule, Stuttgart held the "honorary title" Stadt der Auslandsdeutschen (City of the Germans living outside of the Reich).
During World War II, the centre of Stuttgart was almost completely destroyed in Allied air raids. Some of the most severe bombing took place in 1944 carried out by Anglo-American bombers. The heaviest raid took place on 12 September 1944 when the Royal Air Force bombed the old town of Stuttgart dropping over 184,000 bombs including 75 blockbusters. More than 1000 people perished in the resulting firestorm. In total Stuttgart was subjected to 53 bombing raids, resulting in the destruction of 68% of all buildings and the deaths of 4477 people.
The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Stuttgart in April 1945. Although the attack on the city was to be conducted by the US Seventh Army by American 100th Infantry Division, General de Gaulle found this to be unacceptable, as he felt the capture of the region by Free French forces would increase French influence in post-war decisions. He independently directed General de Lattre to order the French 5th Armored Division, French 2nd Moroccan Infantry Division and French 3rd Algerian Infantry Division to begin their drive on Stuttgart on 18 April 1945. Two days later, the French forces coordinated with the US Seventh Army for the employment of US VI Corps heavy artillery to barrage the city. The French 5th Armored Division then captured Stuttgart on 21 April 1945, encountering little resistance. The circumstances of what became known as 'The Stuttgart Crisis' provoked political repercussions up to the White House. Truman was unable to get De Gaulle to withdraw troops from Stuttgart until after the final boundaries of the zones of occupation were established. The French army occupied Stuttgart until the city was transferred to the American military occupation zone in 1946.
An early concept of the Marshall Plan aimed at supporting reconstruction and economic/political recovery across Europe was presented during a speech given by US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes at the Stuttgart Opera House. His speech led directly to the unification of the British and American occupation zones, resulting in the 'bi-zone' (later the 'tri-zone' including the French). When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded on 23 May 1949, Stuttgart, like Frankfurt, was a serious contender to become the federal capital, but finally Bonn succeeded.
In the late 1970s, the district of Stammheim was centre stage to one of the most controversial periods of German post-war history during the trial of Red Army Faction members at Stammheim high-security court. After the trial, Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe committed suicide in Stammheim. Several attempts were made to free the terrorists by force or blackmail during the 'German Autumn' of 1977, culminating in the abduction and murder of the German industrialist and President of the German Employers' Association Hanns Martin Schleyer as well as the hijacking of Lufthansa flight LH181.
In 1978 Stuttgart's suburban railway came into operation.
US Military in Stuttgart
Since shortly after the end of World War II there has been a US military presence in Stuttgart that remains to this day. At the height of the Cold War over 45,000 Americans were stationed across over 40 installations in and around the city. Today about 10,000 Americans are stationed on 4 installations representing all branches of service, unlike the mostly Army presence of the Occupation and Cold War. Further downsizing by the U.S. military may lead to the closure of the U.S. Army's Stuttgart garrison.
In March 1946 the US Army established a unit of the US Constabulary and a Headquarters at Kurmärker Kaserne (later renamed Patch Barracks) in Stuttgart. These units of soldiers retrained in patrol and policing provided the law and order in the American zone of occupied Germany until the civilian German police forces could be re-established. In 1948 the Headquarters for all Constabulary forces was moved to Stuttgart. In 2008 a memorial to the US Constabulary was installed and dedicated at Patch Barracks. The US Constabulary headquarters was disbanded in 1950 and most of the force was merged into the newly organized 7th Army. As the Cold War developed US Army VII Corps was re-formed in July 1950 and assigned to Hellenen Kaserne (renamed Kelley Barracks in 1951) where the headquarters was to remain throughout the Cold War.
In 1990 VII Corps was deployed directly from Germany to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm to include many of the VII Corps troops stationed in and around Stuttgart. After returning from the Middle East, the bulk of VII Corps units were re-assigned to the United States or deactivated. The VII Corps Headquarters returned to Germany for a short period to close out operations and was deactivated later in the United States. The withdrawal of VII Corps caused a large reduction in the US military presence in the city and region and led to the closure of the majority of US installations in and around Stuttgart which resulted in the layoff of many local civilians who had been career employees of the US Army.
Since 1967, Patch Barracks in Stuttgart has been home to the US EUCOM. In 2007 AFRICOM was established as a cell within EUCOM and in 2008 established as the US Unified Combatant Command responsible for most of Africa headquartered at Kelley Barracks. Due to these 2 major headquarters, Stuttgart has been identified as one of the few "enduring communities" where the United States forces will continue to operate in Germany. The remaining U.S. bases around Stuttgart are organized into US Army Garrison Stuttgart and include Patch Barracks, Robinson Barracks, Panzer Kaserne and Kelley Barracks. From the end of World War II until the early 1990s these installations excepting Patch were almost exclusively Army, but have become increasingly "Purple"—as in joint service—since the end of the Cold War as they are host to United States Department of Defense Unified Commands and supporting activities.