Torgau (German: [ˈtɔʁɡaʊ̯] (About this soundlisten)) is a town on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district Nordsachsen.

Hartenfels Castle
Hartenfels Castle
Coat of arms of Torgau
Coat of arms
Location of Torgau within Nordsachsen district
Torgau in TDO.png
Torgau is located in Germany
Torgau is located in Saxony
Coordinates: 51°33′37″N 13°0′20″E / 51.56028°N 13.00556°E / 51.56028; 13.00556Coordinates: 51°33′37″N 13°0′20″E / 51.56028°N 13.00556°E / 51.56028; 13.00556
Municipal assoc.Torgau
 • MayorRomina Barth (CDU)
 • Total102.53 km2 (39.59 sq mi)
78 m (256 ft)
 • Total19,883
 • Density190/km2 (500/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes03421
Vehicle registrationTDO, DZ, EB, OZ, TG, TO

Outside Germany, the town is best known as where on 25 April 1945, the United States and Soviet Armies forces first met near the end of the World War II.


The settlement goes back to a Slavonic settlement named Turguo in the shire of Neletici. There was presumably a wooden Slavonic castle located on the site of the present-day Hartenfels castle. In the 10th century it fell under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperors, and a stone castle was built, around which the settlement congregated. A market is attested in 1119. The town was located on the important trade-road, the via regia Lusatiae inferioris, between Leipzig and Frankfurt an der Oder that crossed the river Elbe at a ford east of Torgau.

Torgau belonged to the duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg, which in 1356 was raised to be the Electorate of Saxony. After the last Ascanian duke died without issue in 1423, the Electorate passed to the Wettin dynasty, which took up its residence at Torgau. Following the Treaty of Leipzig partition of the Wettin inheritance on 26 August 1485, Torgau fell to the Ernestine line. Frederick III, Elector of Saxony and his successors had Hartenfels Castle at Torgau built by architect Conrad Pflüger and his successor Konrad Krebs. The Ernestine court resided mainly in Torgau and in Weimar. From 1525 onwards, Torgau became the sole residence. Hartenfels Castle is the largest completely preserved castle of the early Renaissance in Germany. After the Battle of Mühlberg in 1547, Torgau fell to the Albertine line.

During the Reformation, the town council closed all cloisters in 1523. Citizens of Torgau destroyed the paintings and statues of saints in the churches and stormed the Franciscan monastery. After Luther had driven Andreas Karlstadt (Bodenstein) from Saxony in 1524, he enforced the expulsion of Karlstadt's followers in Torgau in 1529. Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther, died in Torgau and is buried there in St. Marien, Torgau. The court chapel, constructed in 1543-44 by Nikolaus Gromann, was consecrated by Martin Luther on 5 October 1544; it is thus the second oldest newly built protestant church in the world, after the court chapel of Neuburg Castle which was consecrated in 1543. The Torgauer Artikel, a draft of the Augsburg Confession was composed by Luther, Melanchthon, Bugenhagen and Jonas in the electoral superindenture in 1530 (Wintergrün). The Lutheran Formula of Concord was written in Torgau in 1576.

The first German opera, Heinrich Schütz's Dafne, was presented at the court in Torgau, 1627.

In the Battle of Torgau, on 3 November 1760, a Prussian army under the command of King Friedrich the Great defeated a larger Austrian army under the command of Field Marshal Leopold Josef Graf Daun, a major battle of the Seven Years' War. After the Congress of Vienna, it was passed to Prussia in 1815.

World War IIEdit

The town is where during the World War II, United States Army forces coming from the west met forces of the Soviet Army coming from the east during the invasion of Germany on 25 April 1945, which is now remembered as "Elbe Day". Units of the U.S. First Army and the Soviet First Ukrainian Front met on the bridge at Torgau, and at Lorenzkirch (near Strehla), 20 miles to the south. The unit commanders met the following day at Torgau for an official handshake. This marked the beginning of the line of contact between Soviet and American forces but not the finalized occupation zones. In fact, the area surrounding Torgau initially occupied by U.S. forces was in July 1945 given over to Soviet forces in compliance with the Yalta Agreement. After the war, in 1949, the film Encounter at the Elbe was released by Mosfilm about the meeting of both armies.

Torgau was one of the prisons in which Reinhold Eggers spent his postwar imprisonment after he had been sentenced by the Soviets. He had been the security officer at Oflag IV-C during the war in Colditz Castle.

Post–World War IIEdit

After the war, the Soviet secret police agency NKVD established its Special Camps Nos. 8 and 10 in Fort Zinna and in the nearby Seydlitz barracks. Germans and some Soviet citizens were interned here or served sentences passed by the Soviet military tribunals. The East German People's Police used the Fort Zinna prison from 1950 to 1990 as a penitentiary. In the 1950s it primarily housed political prisoners.

The Torgau Documentation and Information Center (DIZ), founded in 1991 and now under the administration of the Saxon Memorial Foundation for the commemoration of the victims of political despotism, researches and presents the history of the Torgau prisons in the permanent exhibition "Traces of Injustice".[2]

After World War II, Torgau was initially the district centre of the state of Saxony Anhalt in East Germany. After the dissolution of the states of East Germany in 1952, it became part of Bezirk Leipzig. In 1990, after the Unification of Germany, it became part of the Leipzig region of the state of Saxony. In 2008 it became the centre of the Nordsachsen district.

Population developmentEdit

  • 1831 – 6,440
  • 1885 – 10,988 1
  • 1946 – 18,455
  • 1950 – 19,683
  • 1960 – 19,690
  • 1981 – 21,222
  • 1984 – 21,508
  • 1999 – 19,571
  • 2002 – 19,062
  • 2004 – 18,843
  • 2005 – 18,719
  • 2007 – 17,837
  • 2010 – 19,688 2
  • 2012 – 20,248
  • 2013 – 20,092
  • 2014 – 19,964
Data source from 1999: Statistical office Saxony

1 including barracks
2 Incorporation Pflückuff


Sights include the historic town centre, restored since German reunification, a brewery museum, the monument for the meeting of the Russian and American troops on the Elbe and a Russian military cemetery. The early Renaissance Hartenfels Castle dominates the town. The chapel was built in 1544 (designed by Nickel Gromann) and combines late Gothic with early Renaissance elements. It was consecrated by Martin Luther on 5 October 1544. Brown bears are still kept in the moat.

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Torgau is twinned with:[3]

Notable peopleEdit

Georg von Siemens, 1895



  1. ^ "Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen nach Gemeinden am 31. Dezember 2019". Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen (in German). July 2020.
  2. ^ "Torgau at the Center of the Military Penal System".
  3. ^ "Städtepartnerschaften". (in German). Torgau. Retrieved March 17, 2021.

External linksEdit