Place:Aalen, Aalen, Württemberg, Germany

Alt namesAlasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 9
Alenasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 9
Aquilegiasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 9
Olasource: Orbis Latinus (1971) p 9
TypeFormer District Seat/ Town
Coordinates48.833°N 10.1°E
Located inAalen, Württemberg, Germany
Also located inOstalbkreis, Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany    
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Aalen is a former Free Imperial City located in the eastern part of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, about east of Stuttgart and north of Ulm. It is the seat of the Ostalbkreis district and is its largest town. It is also the largest town in the Ostwürttemberg region. Since 1956, Aalen has had the status of Große Kreisstadt (major district town). It is noted for its many half-timbered houses constructed from the 16th century through the 18th century.[1]

With an area of 146.63 km2, Aalen is ranked 7th in Baden-Württemberg and 2nd within the Government Region of Stuttgart, after Stuttgart. With a population of about 66,000, Aalen is the 15th most-populated settlement in Baden-Württemberg.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Civic history

First settlements

Numerous remains of early civilization have been found in the area. Tools made of flint and traces of Mesolithic human settlement dated between the 8th and 5th millennium BC were found on several sites on the margins of the Kocher and Jagst valleys. On the Schloßbaufeld plateau (appr. ), situated behind Kocherburg castle near Unterkochen, a hill-top settlement was found, with the core being dated to the Bronze Age. In the Appenwang forest near Wasseralfingen, in Goldshöfe, and in Ebnat, tumuli of the Hallstatt culture were found. In Aalen and Wasseralfingen, gold and silver coins left by the Celts were found. The Celts were responsible for the fortifications in the Schloßbaufeld settlement consisting of sectional embankments and a stone wall. Also, Near Heisenberg (Wasseralfingen), a Celtic nemeton has been identified; however, it is no longer readily apparent.

Roman era

After abandoning the Alb Limes (a limes generally following the ridgeline of the Swabian Jura) around 150 AD, Aalen's territory became part of the Roman Empire, in direct vicinity of the then newly erected Rhaetian Limes. The Romans erected a castrum to house the cavalry unit Ala II Flavia milliaria; its remains are known today as Kastell Aalen ("Aalen Roman fort"). The site is west of today's town centre at the bottom of the Schillerhöhe hill. With about 1,000 horsemen and nearly as many grooms, it was the largest fort of auxiliaries along the Rhaetian Limes. There were Civilian settlements adjacent along the south and the east. Around 260 AD, the Romans gave up the fort as they withdrew their presence in unoccupied Germania back to the Rhine and Danube rivers, and the Alamanni took over the region. Based on 3rd- and 4th-century coins found, the civilian settlement continued to exist for the time being. However, there is no evidence of continued civilization between the Roman era and the Middle Ages.[2]


Based on discovery of alamannic graves, archaeologists have established the 7th century as the origination of Aalen. In the northern and western walls of St. John's church, which is located directly adjacent to the eastern gate of the Roman fort, Roman stones were incorporated. The building that exists today probably dates to the 9th century.

The first mention of Aalen was in 839, when emperor Louis the Pious reportedly permitted the Fulda monastery to exchange land with the Hammerstadt village, then known as Hamarstat. Aalen itself was first mentioned in an inventory list of Ellwangen Abbey, dated ca. 1136, as the village Alon, along with a lower nobleman named Conrad of Aalen. This nobleman probably had his ancestral castle at a site south of today's town centre and was subject first to Ellwangen abbey, later to the House of Hohenstaufen, and eventually to the House of Oettingen. 1426 was the last time a member of that house was mentioned in connection with Aalen. Documents, from the Middle Ages, indicate that the town of Aalen was founded by the Hohenstaufen some time between 1241 and 1246, but at a different location than the earlier village, which was supposedly destroyed in 1388 during the war between the Alliance of Swabian Cities and the Dukes of Bavaria. Later, it is documented that the counts of Oettingen ruled the town in 1340. They are reported to have pawned the town to Count Eberhard II and subsequently to the House of Württemberg in 1358 or 1359 in exchange for an amount of money.

Imperial City

Designation as Imperial City

During the war against Württemberg, Emperor Charles IV took the town without a fight after a siege. On 3 December 1360, he declared Aalen an Imperial City, that is, a city or town responsible only to the emperor, a status that made it a quasi-sovereign city-state and that it kept until 1803. In 1377, Aalen joined the Alliance of Swabian Cities, and in 1385, the term civitas appears in the town's seal for the first time. In 1398, Aalen was granted the right to hold markets, and in 1401 Aalen obtained proper jurisdiction.

The oldest artistic representation of Aalen was made in 1528. It was made as the basis of a lawsuit between the town and the Counts of Oettingen at the Reichskammergericht in Speyer. It shows Aalen surrounded by walls, towers, and double moats. The layout of the moats, which had an embankment built between them, is recognizable by the present streets named Nördlicher, Östlicher, Südlicher and Westlicher Stadtgraben (Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Moat respectively). The wall was about tall, 1518 single paces long and enclosed an area of . During its early years, the town had two town gates: The Upper or Ellwangen Gate in the east, and St. Martin's gate in the south; however due to frequent floods, St. Martin's gate was bricked up in the 14th century and replaced by the Lower or Gmünd Gate built in the west before 1400. Later, several minor side gates were added. The central street market took place on the Wettegasse (today called Marktplatz, "market square") and the Reichsstädter Straße. So the market district stretched from one gate to the other, however in Aalen it was not straight, but with a 90-degree curve between southern (St. Martin's) gate and eastern (Ellwangen) gate.

Around 1500, the civic graveyard was relocated from the town church to St. John's Church,[3] and in 1514, the Vierundzwanziger ("Group of 24") was the first assembly constituted by the citizens.


Delegated by Württemberg's Duke Louis III, on 28 June 1575, nearly 30 years after Martin Luther's death, Jakob Andreae, professor and chancellor of the University of Tübingen, arrived in Aalen. The sermon he gave the following day convinced the mayor, the council, and the citizens to adopt the Reformation in the town. Andreae stayed in Aalen for four weeks to help with the change.[3] This brought along enormous changes, as the council forbade the Roman Catholic priests to celebrate masses and give sermons. However, after victories of the imperial armies at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, the Prince-Provostry of Ellwangen, which still held the right of patronage in Aalen, were able to temporarily bring Catholicism back to Aalen; however after the military successes of the Protestant Union, Protestant church practices were instituted again.

Fire of 1634

On the night of 5 September 1634, two ensigns of the army of Bernard of Saxe-Weimar who were fighting with the Swedes and retreating after the Battle of Nördlingen set fire to two powder carriages, to prevent the war material to fall into Croatian hands and to prevent their advance. The result was a conflagration, that some say destroyed portions of the town. There are differing stories regarding this fire. According to 17th-century accounts, the church and all the buildings, except of the Schwörturm tower, were casualties of the fire, and only nine families survived. 19th century research by Hermann Bauer, Lutheran pastor and local historian, discovered that the 17th-century account is exaggerated, but he does agree that the town church and buildings in a "rather large" semicircle around it were destroyed. The fire also destroyed the town archive housed in an addition to the church, with all of its documents.[3] After the fire, soldiers of both armies went through the town looting. It took nearly 100 years for the town to reach its population of 2,000.

French troops marched through Aalen in 1688 during the Nine Years' War; however, unlike other places, they left without leaving severe damages. The French came through again in 1702 during the War of the Spanish Succession and in 1741 during the War of the Austrian Succession,[3] the latter also caused imperial troops to move through in 1743.

The town church's tower collapsed in 1765, presumably because proper building techniques were not utilized during the reconstruction after the fire of 1634. The collapsing tower struck two children of the tower watchman who died of their injuries, and destroyed the nave, leaving only the altar cross intact. The remaining walls had to be knocked down due to the damage. Reconstruction began the same year, creating the building that exists today.[3]

On 22 November 1749, the so-called Aalen protocol regulating the cohabitation of Lutherans and Roman Catholics in the jointly ruled territory of Oberkochen was signed in Aalen by the Duchy of Württemberg and the Prince-Provostry of Ellwangen. Aalen had been chosen because of its neutral status as a Free Imperial City.

Napoleonic era and end of the Imperial City of Aalen

During the War of the First Coalition (1796), Aalen was looted.[3] The War of the Second Coalition concluded in 1801 with the signing of the Treaty of Lunéville, which led to the German Mediatisation of 1803 that assigned most Imperial Cities to the neighbouring principalities. Aalen was assigned to the Electorate of Württemberg, which later became the Kingdom of Württemberg, and became seat of the District ("Oberamt") of Aalen. During the War of the Third Coalition, on 6 October 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in Aalen, with an army of 40,000. This event, along with Bavarian and Austrian troops moving in some days later, caused miseries that according to the town clerk "no feather could describe".

In 1811, the municipality of Unterrombach was formed out of some villages previously belonging to Aalen, some to the Barons of Wöllwarth, and the eastern villages were assigned to the municipality of Unterkochen.

In the age of the Napoleonic wars, the town walls were no longer of use, and in the 18th century, with the maintenance of walls, gates and towers becoming more neglected Finally, due to the fact that the funds were lacking, starting in 1800, most towers were demolished, the other buildings followed soon.[4]

Industrial revolution

Before the industrial revolution, Aalen's economy was shaped by its rural setting. Many citizens were pursuing farming besides their craft, such as tanning. In the mid 19th century, there were twelve tanneries in Aalen, due to the proximity of Ulm, an important sales market. Other crafts that added to the economy were weaving mills, which produced linen and woolen goods, and baking of sweet pastry and gingerbread.

In Aalen, industrialisation was a slow process. The first major increase was in the 1840s, when three factories for nails and some other factories emerged.[5] It was the link with the railway network, by the opening of the Rems Railway from Cannstatt to Wasseralfingen in 1861, that brought more industry to Aalen, along with the royal steel mill (later Schwäbische Hüttenwerke) in Wasseralfingen. The Rems Railway's extension to Nördlingen in 1863, the opening of the Brenz Railway in 1864 and of the Upper Jagst Railway in 1866 turned Aalen into a railway hub. Furthermore, between 1901 and its shutdown in 1972, the Härtsfeld Railway connected Aalen with Dillingen an der Donau via Neresheim. Part of becoming a rail hub entailed more jobs based on the rail industry. These included, a maintenance facility, a roundhouse, an administrative office, two track maintenance shops, and a freight station with an industrial branch line. This helped shape Aalen into what today's historians call a "railwayman's town". Starting in 1866, the utilities in town all began to be upgraded. Starting with the Aalen gasworks which were opened and gas lighting was introduced. Then in 1870, a modern water supply system was started and in 1912 the mains electricity. Finally, in 1935, the first electrically powered street lights were installed.[5]

To fight housing shortage during and immediately after World War I, the town set up barracks settlement areas at the Schlauch and Alter Turnplatz grounds. In spite of the industry being crippled by the Great Depression of 1929, the public baths at the Hirschbach creek where modernized, extended and re-opened in 1931.[6]

Nazi era

In the federal election of 1932, the Nazi Party performed below average in Aalen with 25.8% of votes compared to 33.1% on the national level, thus finishing second to the Centre Party which had 26.6% (11.9% nationwide) of the votes, and ahead of the Social Democratic Party of Germany with 19.8% (20.4%). However, the March 1933 federal elections showed that the sentiment had changed as the Nazi Party received 34.1% (still below German average 43.9% nationwide), but by far the leading vote-getter in Aalen, followed by the Centre party at 26.6% (11.3% nationwide) and the Social Democrats 18.6% (18.3% nationwide).

The democratically elected mayor Friedrich Schwarz remained in office until the Nazis removed him from office, in 1934, and replaced him by chairman of the Nazi Party town council head and brewery owner Karl Barth. Karl Barth was a provisional mayor until the more permanent solution of Karl Schübel. In August 1934, the Nazi consumer fair Braune Messe ("brown fair") was held in Aalen.

During Nazi rule in Germany, there were many military offices constructed in Aalen, starting with, in 1936, a military district riding and driving school. The Nazis also built an army replenishment office (Heeresverpflegungsamt), a branch arsenal office (Heeresnebenzeugamt) and a branch army ammunitions institute (Heeresnebenmunitionsanstalt).

Starting in 1935, mergers of neighbouring towns began. In 1938, the Oberamt was transformed into the Landkreis of Aalen and the municipality of Unterrombach was disbanded. Its territory was mostly added to Aalen, with the exception of Hammerstadt, which was added to the municipality of Dewangen. Forst, Rauental and Vogelsang were added to Essingen (in 1952 the entire former municipality of Unterrombach was merged into Aalen, with the exception of Forst, which is part of Essingen until present).

In September 1944, the Wiesendorf concentration camp, a subcamp of Natzweiler-Struthof, was constructed nearby. It was designated for between 200 and 300 prisoners who were utilized for forced labor in industrial businesses nearby. Until the camp's dissolution in February 1945, 60 prisoners died. Between 1946 and 1957, the camp buildings were torn down; however, its foundations are still in place in house Moltkestraße 44/46. Also, there were several other labour camps which existed where prisoners of war along with women and men from occupied countries occupied by Germany were pooled. The prisoners at these other camps had to work for the arms industry in major businesses like Schwäbische Hüttenwerke and the Alfing Keßler machine factory.

In the civic hospital, the deaconesses on duty were gradually replaced by National Socialist People's Welfare nurses. Nazi eugenics led to compulsory sterilization of some 200 persons there.

Fortunately, Aalen avoided most of the combat activity during World War II. It was only during the last weeks of the war that Aalen became a target of air warfare, which led to the destruction and severe damage of parts of the town, the train station, and other railway installations. A series of air attacks lasting for more than three weeks reached its peak on 17 April 1945, when United States Army Air Forces planes bombed the branch arsenal office and the train station. During this raid, 59 people were killed, more than half of them buried by debris, and more than 500 lost their homes. Also, 33 residential buildings, 12 other buildings and 2 bridges were destroyed, and 163 buildings, including 2 churches, were damaged.[4] Five days later, the Nazi rulers of Aalen were unseated by the US forces.

Post-war era

Aalen became part of the State of Baden-Württemberg, upon its creation in 1952. Then, with the Baden-Württemberg territorial reform of 1973, the District of Aalen was merged into the Ostalbkreis district. Subsequently, Aalen became seat of that district, and in 1975, the town's borough attained its present size (see below).

The population of Aalen exceeded the limit of 20,000, which was the requirement for to gain the status of Große Kreisstadt ("major district town") in 1946. On 1 August 1947, Aalen was declared Unmittelbare Kreisstadt ("immediate district town"), and with the creation of the Gemeindeordnung (municipal code) of Baden-Württemberg on 1 April 1956, it was declared Große Kreisstadt.


On 31 December 2008, 51.1 percent of Aalen were members of the Catholic Church, 23.9 percent were members of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church. About 25 percent belong to other or no religious community or gave no information. The district of Waldhausen was the district with the highest percentage of Roman Catholic inhabitants at 75.6 percent, and the central district was the one with the highest percentage of Evangelical-Lutheran inhabitants at 25.6 percent, as well as those claiming no religious preference at 32.5 percent.


Aalen's population originally was subject to the jus patronatus of Ellwangen Abbey, and thus subject to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Augsburg.

With the assistance of the Duke of Württemberg, in 1575, the reformation was implemented in Aalen. Subsequently, Aalen has been a predominantly Protestant town for centuries, with the exception of the years from 1628 until 1632 (see reformation section). Being an Imperial City, Aalen could govern its clerical matters on its own, so Clerics, organists and choir masters were direct subjects to the council, which thus exerted bishop-like power. There was even a proper hymn book for Aalen.[3] After the transition to Württemberg, in 1803, Aalen became seat of a deanery, with the dean church being the Town Church (with the building constructed from 1765 to 1767 and existing until present). Another popular church is St. John's Church, located on the cemetery and refurbished in 1561.

As Aalen's population grew in the 20th century, more parishes were founded: St. Mark's parish with its church building of 1967 and St. Martin's parish with its church of 1974. In the borough of Unterrombach, Aalen had implemented the reformation as well, but the community remained a chapel-of-ease of Aalen. A proper church, the Christ Church, was erected in 1912 and a proper parish was established in 1947. In Fachsenfeld, the ruling family of Woellwarth resp. of Leinroden implemented the reformation. A parish church was built in 1591, however with an influx of Catholics in the 18th century, a Catholic majority was established. The other districts of present-day Aalen remained mostly catholic after the reformation, however Wasseralfingen established a Lutheran parish in 1891 and a church, St. Magdalene's Church, in 1893. In Unterkochen, after World War II, a parish was established and a church was built in 1960. All four parishes belong to the deanery of Aalen within the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg. Furthermore, in Aalen there are Old Pietistic communities.


The few Catholics of today's central district were covered by the parish of Unterkochen until the 19th century, a situation which continued for some years even after completion of St. Mary's Church in 1868, which was constructed by Georg Morlok.[4] However, in 1872 Aalen got its proper parish again, and in 1913, a second Catholic church, Salvator's Church, was completed, and in 1969 the Holy Cross Church was also finished. In 1963, a second parish was set up, and in 1972 it got a new Church, the new St. Mary's Church, which has been erected in place of the old St. Mary's church, which had been torn down in 1968. Another church of the second parish was St. Augustine's Church, which was completed in 1970. Finally, in 1976 and 1988, St. Elizabeth's Church and St. Thomas' Church were completed. Furthermore, in 1963, the St. Michael pastoral care office was built.

Hofherrnweiler has its own Catholic church, St. Boniface's, since 1904. The villages of Dewangen, Ebnat, Hofen, Waldhausen and Wasseralfingen had remained Catholic after reformation, so old parishes and churches persist there. The Assumption of Mary Church in Dewangen has an early Gothic tower and a newly built nave (1875). Mary's Immaculate Conception Church in Ebnat was constructed in 1723; however the church was first mentioned in 1298.

Hofen's Saint George's Church is a fortified church, whose current nave was built between 1762 and 1775. Alongside the church, the Late Gothic St. Odile's Chapel is standing, whose entrance has the year 1462 engraved upon it. Foundations of prior buildings have been dated to the 11th and 13th century.

St. Mary's Church of Unterkochen was first mentioned in 1248, and has served the Catholics of Aalen for a long time. Waldhausen's parish church of St. Nicholas was built between 1699 and 1716. Wasseralfingen at first was a chapel of ease for Hofen, but has since had its own chapel, St. Stephen, built. It was presumably built in 1353 and remodeled in 1832. In 1834, a proper parish was established, which built a new St. Stephen's Church. This new building utilized the Romanesque Revival architecture style and was built between 1881 and 1883, and has since remained the parish's landmark. Also, Fachsenfeld received its own church, named Sacred Heart in 1895. All Catholic parishes within Aalen are today incorporated into four pastoral care units within the Ostalb Deanery of the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart; however these units also comprise some parishes outside of Aalen. Pastoral Care Unit two comprises the parishes of Essingen, Dewangen and Fachsenfeld, unit four comprises Hofen and Wasseralfingen, unit five comprises both parishes of Aalen's centre and Hofherrnweiler, unit five comprises Waldhausen, Ebnat, Oberkochen and Unterkochen.

Other Christian communities

In addition to the two major religions within Aalen, there are also free churches and other communities, including the United Methodist Church, the Baptists, the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the New Apostolic Church.

Other religions

Until the late 19th century, no Jews were documented within Aalen. In 1886 there were four Jews were living in Aalen, a number that rose to ten in 1900, fell to seven in 1905, and remained so until 1925. Upon the Nazis' rise to power in 1933, seven Jews, including two children, lived in Aalen. During the Kristallnacht in 1938, the vitrines of the three Jewish shops in the town were smashed and their proprietors imprisoned for several weeks. After their release, most Aalen Jews emigrated. The last Jews of Aalen, Fanny Kahn, was forcibly resettled to Oberdorf am Ipf, which had a large Jewish community. Today, a street of Aalen is named after her. The Jew Max Pfeffer returned from Brussels to Aalen in 1948 to continue his shop, but emigrated to Italy in 1967.[7]

In Aalen, there is an Islamic Ditib community, which maintains the D.I.T.I.B. Mosque of Aalen (Central Mosque) located at Ulmer Straße. The mosque's construction started on 30 August 2008. The Islamist Millî Görüş organisation maintains the Fatih Mosque, as well at Ulmer Straße.


The present-day make up of Aalen was created on 21 June 1975 by the unification of the cities of Aalen and Wasseralfingen, with the initial name of Aalen-Wasseralfingen. This annexation made Aalen's territory one third larger than its prior size. On 1 July 1975, the name Aalen was revived. Prior to this merger, the town of Aalen had already annexed the following municipalities:

  • 1938: Unterrombach
  • 1 January 1970: Waldhausen
  • 1 July 1972: Ebnat
  • 1 January 1973: Dewangen, Fachsenfeld (including the village of Hangendenbach, which was transferred from Abtsgmünd in 1954) and Unterkochen. The merging of Dewangen nearly doubled the territory of Aalen.

Population’s progression and structure

During the Middle Ages and the early modern period, Aalen was just a small town with a few hundred inhabitants. The population grew slowly due to numerous wars, famines and epidemics. It was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century where Aalen's growth accelerated. Whereas in 1803, only 1,932 people inhabited the town, in 1905 it had already increased to 10,442. The number continued to rise and reached 15,890 in 1939.

The influx of refugees and ethnic Germans from Germany's former eastern territories after World War II pushed the population to 31,814 in 1961. The merger with Wasseralfingen on 21 June 1975 added 14,597 persons and resulted in a total population of 65,165 people. On 30 June 2005, the population, which was officially determined by the Statistical Office of Baden-Württemberg, was 67,125.

The following overview shows how the population figures of the borough were ascertained. Until 1823, the figures are mostly estimates, thereafter census results or official updates by the state statistical office. Starting in 1871, the figures were determined by non-uniform method of tabulation using extrapolation.

Year Inhabitants
1634 2,000
1803 1,932
1823 2,486
3 December 1843 ¹ 3,319
3 December 1855 ¹ 3,720
3 December 1861 ¹ 4,272
1 December 1871 ¹ 5,552
1 December 1880 ¹ 6,659
1 December 1890 ¹ 7,155
1 December 1900 ¹ 9,058
1 December 1905 ¹ 10,442
Year Inhabitants
1 December 1910 ¹ 11,347
1 December 1916 ¹ 10,655
5 December 1917 ¹ 10,551
8 October 1919 ¹ 11,978
16 June 1925 ¹ 12,171
16 June 1933 ¹ 12,703
17 May 1939 ¹ 15,890
31 December 1945 19,552
29 October 1946 ¹ 21,941
13 September 1950 ¹ 25,375
25 September 1956 ¹ 29,360
Year Inhabitants
6 June 1961 ¹ 31,814
31 December 1965 34,373
27 May 1970 ¹ 37,366
31 December 1975 64,735
31 December 1980 63,030
31 December 1985 63,195
31 December 1990 64,781
1994 66,330
31 December 1995 66,234
31 December 2000 66,373
31 December 2005 67,066
31 December 2010 66,113

¹ Census result

On 31 December 2008, Aalen had precisely 66,058 inhabitants, of which 33,579 were female and 32,479 were male. The average age of Aalen's inhabitants rose from 40.5 years in 2000 to 42.4 in 2008. Within the borough, 6,312 foreigners resided, which is 9.56 percent. Of them, the largest percentage are from Turkey (38 percent of all foreigners), the second largest group are from Italy (13 percent), followed by Croatians (6 percent) and Serbs (5 percent).

The number of married residents fell from 32,948 in 1996 to 31,357 in 2007, while the number of divorced residents rose in the same period from 2,625 to 3,859. The number of single residents slightly increased between 1996 and 2004 from 25,902 to 26,268 and fell slightly until 2007 to 26,147. The number of widowed residents fell from 5,036 in 1996 to 4,783 in 2007.

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