Zerbst (German pronunciation: [ˈt͡sɛʁpst]) is a town in the district of Anhalt-Bitterfeld, in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Until an administrative reform in 2007, Zerbst was the capital of the former Anhalt-Zerbst district.

St Bartholomew Church
St Bartholomew Church
Coat of arms of Zerbst
Location of Zerbst within Anhalt-Bitterfeld district
AkenBitterfeld-WolfenSüdliches AnhaltSüdliches AnhaltKöthenMuldestauseeOsternienburger LandSüdliches AnhaltRaguhn-JeßnitzSandersdorf-BrehnaSüdliches AnhaltSüdliches AnhaltZerbstZörbigSaxony-Anhalt
Zerbst is located in Germany
Zerbst is located in Saxony-Anhalt
Coordinates: 51°58′5″N 12°5′4″E / 51.96806°N 12.08444°E / 51.96806; 12.08444
 • Mayor (2019–26) Andreas Dittmann[1] (SPD)
 • Total467.65 km2 (180.56 sq mi)
67 m (220 ft)
 • Total21,234
 • Density45/km2 (120/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes03923
Vehicle registrationABI, AZE, BTF, KÖT, ZE

Geography edit

Zerbst is situated in the Anhalt-Wittenberg region, with its town centre located on the river Nuthe about 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of the Elbe, halfway between Magdeburg and Wittenberg.

With the 1 January 2010 local government reform, the 21 formerly independent communities of the disbanded Verwaltungsgemeinschaft (municipal association) Elbe-Ehle-Nuthe were incorporated into the town.[3] Zerbst today counts about 24,000 inhabitants and, at 467.65 km2 (180.56 sq mi), is the fifth largest town in Germany by area. The current municipal area stretches from the Elbe in the southwest up to the Fläming Heath and the state border with Brandenburg in the northeast.

Divisions edit

The town Zerbst consists of Zerbst proper and the following 24 Ortschaften or municipal divisions:[4]

History edit

In the 8th century the area east of the Elbe was settled by Polabian Slavs (Sorbs). Part of the border region with the adjacent Saxon region around Magdeburg in the west, it was incorporated into the Gau Ciervisti of the Saxon Eastern March (Marca Geronis) about 937 in the course of the German Ostsiedlung.

Town wall
Market place

It is not clear when Zerbst was founded; however, the name Ciervisti mentioned as early as 949 may already refer to a fortified Slavic settlement. The chronicles by Prince-Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg recorded the first mention of a town as Zirwisti urbs in 1018,[5] giving an account of the occupation by the Polish duke Bolesław I Chrobry during the German–Polish War with King Henry II in 1007. In the early 12th century the Ascanian ruler Albert the Bear had the fortress rebuilt, and the adjacent settlement was first fortified with town walls about 1250.

In 1307 Prince Albert I of Anhalt acquired the city of Zerbst from the Barby comital family, starting a centuries-long rule by the Ascanian princely House of Anhalt. His descendants continued to rule the Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst until in 1396 it was divided between Prince Sigismund I and his brother Albert IV, and the residence was moved to Dessau.

In 1375 Zerbster Bitterbier was first mentioned; by the Middle Ages the town had 600 breweries.[6]

Ruins of Zerbst Castle

Following the Reformation Zerbst became a Calvinist centre. From 1582 to 1798 the Francisceum Gymnasium Illustre was an important Calvinist college. From 1603 to 1793 Zerbst again was the residence of the Anhalt-Zerbst princes, whose rule included among others also the Lordship of Jever in East Frisia. From 1722 to 1758, the Baroque composer Johann Friedrich Fasch resided there and was employed as a Hofkomponist and later Hofkapellmeister. To honour his memory, the Fasch Festivals have taken place in the city since 1983.

In 1745 Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike of Anhalt-Zerbst married Peter, Crown Prince of Russia, the heir apparent to the Russian throne. As Catherine II (the Great) she herself reigned as Empress of Russia from 9 July [O.S. 28 June] 1762 until 17 November [O.S. 6 November] 1796).

In 1797 Zerbst became a component of the Principality of Anhalt-Dessau.

From 1891 to 1928 a horse-drawn tram was operated in Zerbst, one of the longest surviving among such tram in Germany.

In the later part of the Second World War a Nazi labour camp was established on the edge of the military airfield, housing so-called "First-degree Hybrids" and "Jüdisch Versippte" (i.e., people with some Jewish blood, enough in Nazi terms to justify badly mistreating them but not killing them outright). 700 inmates from there were used for hard labour in road and airport construction as well as peat digging.

On 16 April 1945 – just a few weeks before the final surrender of Nazi Germany – some eighty percent of Zerbst was destroyed in an Allied air raid.

The old town was rebuilt in the following decades resulting in a fundamental change of the townscape, as only a few historical structures were preserved or reconstructed.

On 1 July 2006, the town of Zerbst was renamed Zerbst/Anhalt. A year later, on 1 July 2007, the town of Zerbst/Anhalt was incorporated together with several other municipalities of the Zerbst administrative district, creating the renewed Anhalt-Bitterfeld administrative district with its capital at Köthen.

Local council edit

Elections in May 2014[7]

CDU Wählergruppen (Voters associations) SPD The Left FDP Alliance 90/The Greens Total
10 Seats 10 Seats 5 Seats 5 Seats 4 Seats 2 Seats 36 Seats

Mayors edit

  • since July 2012: Andreas Dittmann (SPD)
  • 1990-2012: Helmut Behrendt (FDP)

Notable people edit

Catherine II (1780s)
Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch 1769
Charles, Prince of Anhalt Zerbst

See also edit

Zerbst town hall

References edit

  1. ^ Bürgermeisterwahlen in den Gemeinden, Endgültige Ergebnisse, Statistisches Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt, accessed 8 July 2021.
  2. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden – Stand: 31. Dezember 2021" (PDF) (in German). Statistisches Landesamt Sachsen-Anhalt. June 2022.
  3. ^ Gebietsänderungen vom 01. Januar bis 31. Dezember 2010, Statistisches Bundesamt
  4. ^ Hauptsatzung der Stadt Zerbst/Anhalt, § 19, May 2021.
  5. ^ Thietmari Mersebu rgensis episcopi Chronicon, post editionem Ioh. M. Lappenbergii recognovit Fridericus Kurze (1889)
  6. ^ 'The Oxford Companion to Beer', pg. 392
  7. ^ Endgültiges Wahlergebnis der Kommunalwahl in Sachsen-Anhalt am 25. Mai 2014 (pdf)

External links edit