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History of the city

Excerpt from the chronicles of the city of Gera

995, 31st March
In a deed of gift from King Otto III, who transferred the land Ponzova (today in the area of the town Zeitz) and Crossen to the church of Zeitz, the name “Gera” appears for the first time in relation with an enclosed description of boundaries.

999, 26th April
Emperor Otto III gives his sister Adelheid, the abbess of the Monastery Quedlinburg, the land Gera including all belongings at her disposal as a gift.

1237, 25th October
In a comparison of the charging of law-court fees in the monastery bailiwick by the abbess of Quedlinburg, Gertrud von Amfurt, made with Heinrich IV the Oldest of Weida, Gera is mentioned as a town and its inhabitants as citizens for the first time.

1350, 11th May
For the first time, a seal of the town of Gera is found. The heraldic figure shows the bailiff’s lion in a triangular shield (the escutcheon).

Gera’s cloth workers are found to be tradespeople in the Naumburg Fair for the first time. Since 1436, they had been regular visitors of the Leipzig Fair.

1450, 15th October
In the Fratricidal War of Sachsen (1445-1451) between the Elector Friedrich and the Duke Wilhelm of Sachsen, the town of Gera is conquered and destroyed in large parts.

1478, 25th May
The 43 masters of the cloth-manufacturing guild of Gera obtain new guild products from Heinrich the Middle. These are an important fundament for the blooming and dominating position of cloth manufacturing in the region around Gera.

1487, 2nd November
The town receives its new own town charter from the territorial lord. This is the prerequisite for the Gera’s development into an economical and political centre in East Thüringen as a consequence.

1546, 14th October
Duke Moritz of Sachsen cedes his fiefdom over the territories of Gera’s lords to his confederate King Ferdinand of Böhmen. After the last of Gera’s lords dies on 7th August 1550, not leaving any male inheritor, the members of the family Reuß in Greiz and the castellan Heinrich IV of Meißen have a brutal altercation over the inheritance, which the Reußen family obtained ownership of between 1560 and 1962. When the land is divided in 1564, Heinrich the Younger Reuß obtains sovereignty and, hence, becomes the originator of the Reuß Junior Line.

around 1570
The first Dutch cloth workers producing textiles from sheep’s wool and some dyers settled in Gera.

1572, 10th June
Two months after his father dies (therefore, called ‚Posthumous’), Heinrich Reuß the Younger is born. After he has taken over government on 6th June 1595, he becomes one of the most important territorial lords of his time with the reformation of state- and church administration and with his economic, cultural, and scientific promotion.

The Dutch merchant and trader Nikolaus de Smit (born on 5th November 1541 in Doornik, Flanders) settles in Gera. The introduction of the putting-out system in the textile industry and his monopoly position thanks to the implementation of new dying techniques make him the originator of production methods during early capitalism in Gera. Nikolaus de Smit dies on 7th March 1623 in Gera.

Martin Spieß (1579 until 1611) from Speyer is verifiably the first letterpress printer in Gera.

1639, 14th April
Swedish soldiers camping outside the town set the barns in front of the Bader gate, the castle’s gate and the gate of Leumnitz on fire. It quickly spreads over the town centre and razes 110 houses to the ground.

1658, 7th April
Gera’s re-newed statues are confirmed by the territorial lordship.

1686, 20th March
A young baker’s carelessness causes a fire in a chimney and spreads quickly to wide parts of the town centre and the suburbs outside the castle’s gate and the gate in Leumnitz. 358 houses, 3 town gates and 50 barns burn down and 4 people die in the fire.

1756 until 1763
During the Seven Years’ War, Gera is shaken by a vast number of troop marchings-through, pillages, contributions and forced recruitments. Several times, up to 20,000 men besiege the town.

1780, 18th September
Fire-raising in a house in the outer area of the street Weidaische Gasse causes a fire, which, due to a prolonged drought and uprising storms, rushes over the city centre and suburbs. 785 out of 897 buildings are destroyed and 10 people lose their lives. Within the town walls the house Schreibersches Haus on the Nikolai hill alone remains untouched by the fire. The “great fire of Gera” raises attention from everywhere, so the citizens receive massive support for Gera’s rehabilitation.

1802, 26th April
Heinrich XXX dies as the last count of the house Reuß-Gera. The lines Reuß-Schleiz, Reuß-Lobenstein and Reuß-Ebersdorf jointly take on government of the lordship Gera.

1831, 24th March
When d pronounced their slogan in the Town Hall, new disturbances arise. The riots in March accelerate the elaboration of the new municipal order demanded by the citizens. The order was enacted on 13th September and was passed to the town on 18th October. The introduction of a municipal council consisting of 21 elected councillors augments statutory autonomy for the community.

Gera’s first steam engine is set up in the wool-spinning mill Morand & Co. and works with combed fibres. Today, you can find this original engine in the Amthorpassage.

A mechanic named Moritz Jahr founds a mechanical-engineering institution, which is the starting point for the development of the machine industry in Gera.

1848, 1st October
Prince Heinrich LXXII’s resignation; Reuß-Lobenstein-Ebersdorf paves the way to the formation of the Reuß Junior Line principality

1918, November
Paul Ruckdeschel’s replacement of the conservative minister of state, Franz von Hinüber, on 7th November cannot stop the beginning of the revolution. On a gathering of a large crowd in the gymnasium Ostvorstädtische Turnhalle on 10th November, a worker’s and soldier’s council is elected and takes over government authority and enforces the resignation of the Reußen prince Heinrich XXII (1858-1928) and the mayor Dr. Ernst Huhn.

1920, 1st May
The democratic state of Reuß, established on 4th April 1919, confederates with six individual states in Thüringen into one federal state of Thüringen, electing Weimar to be the capital.

1935, 30th January
The German Municipal Code abolishes democratic self-government in all communities. In the Municipal Administration, the Führer-Gefolgschafts-Prinzip (leader-and-manpower principle) is implemented.

1937, 17th December
Gera’s connection to the motorway Reichsautobahn is launched.

1938, 10th November
The Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) takes place; also the demolition and desecration of the synagogue, and a Jewish school and the occupation of Jewish stores; and all male Jews are arrested.

1945, 6th April
The most devastating air raid on Gera leaves the old town centre, the central station and the districts Untermhaus and Pforten horribly damaged. 142 people die in the attack. 300 residential houses, 54 business enterprises, 21 public buildings (castle Oberstein, Städtisches Museum, scene-painting studio of the theatre), and approximately 20 public utilities, 1,000 apartments are destroyed, so 8,000 citizens are left homeless.

1945, 14th April
Around 12 o’clock, the 1,200 soldiers positioned in Gera capitulate and the town is besieged by troops of the third U.S. army.

1945, 1st July
The American occupation troops withdraw from Gera. 5.15 in the afternoon, the gas plant is destroyed in the explosion of a freight train loaded with sea mines.

1945, 2nd July
Soviet occupation troops enter Gera.

1952, 25th July
Thüringen becomes divided into the counties Erfurt, Gera and Suhl. Gera becomes county capital.

1953, 17th June
There are strikes in several companies and demonstrations of the workers of the uranium-mining company Wismut outside the county-council building. By orders of the commander of the Soviet army's garrison in Gera the state of emergency is declared.

Gera, having 100,924 inhabitants, becomes a city.

1972, 28th April
In the city district Lusan, an excavator symbolically breaks the ground for Gera’s largest development area, now home to 40,000 citizens.

The new town ,initially constructed in 1731, is blown up. It is replaced by the Haus der Kultur (today the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum) and the Zentraler Platz.

1989, 22nd October
After a prayer for peace in the Johannes church, on the spur of the moment, hundreds of young people gather for a demonstration in the city’s streets.

1990, 6th May
After 40 years, free and democratic local elections can take place again.

1991, 3rd October
Celebrating the first Geraer Höhler festival, a new folk-festival tradition is born.

1991, 1st December
The grand opening for the Otto-Dix-Haus in Mohrenplatz is celebrated in honour of the artist's 100th birthday.

1992, 1st May
From Gera’s stages, the CIS armed forces positioned in Gera, who will be withdrawing by the end of September, are officially bid farewell during the reception for the mayor and the president of the municipal councillors’ meeting.

With the incorporation of 12 communities with altogether 29 city districts Gera’s total area doubles from 7,764 to 15,164 hectares.

1995, 1st August
Gera’s stages and the regional theatre in Altenburg merge into the Altenburg-Gera Theater GmbH.

1997, 24th January
The demolition of the Interhotel constructed between 1965 and 1967 starts in order to create space for the shopping mall Gera-Arcaden, which has its grand opening on 11th November in 1998.

1998, 15th October
The new bridge Heinrichsbrücke is opened for traffic and the tram uses a separate bridge for the first time.

1999, 9th June
On the site of the demolished Amthorpassage the foundation for the new city mall also named Amthorpassage is laid, which has its opening on 13th April 2000.

2000, 6th February
After six years of construction, the tangential street Süd-Ost-Tangente as a local ring-road around the city centre is opened for traffic.

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