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Torgau is a town on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxonymarker, Germanymarker. It is the capital of the district Nordsachsenmarker.

Outside Germany, the town is most well-known as the place where during the Second World War, United States Army forces coming from the west met with forces of the Soviet Unionmarker coming from the east during the invasion of Germany on April 25, 1945.

Sights

Sights include the historic town centre, restored since the unification, 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 October 5, 1544. Brown bears are still kept in the moat.

History

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

Torgau belonged to the duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg. 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 Leipzig partition of the Wettin inheritance in 1485, Torgau fell to the Ernestine line. The court resided mainly in Weimarmarker and in Torgau. From 1525 onwards, Torgau became the sole residence. 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 is buried in St. Marien, Torgau. 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 first German opera, Heinrich Schütz's Dafne, was presented at the court in Torgau, 1627.

World War II

The town is the place where during the Second World War, United States Army forces coming from the west met with forces of the Soviet Unionmarker coming from the east during the invasion of Germany on April 25, 1945, which is now remembered as "Elbe Day". 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 later, in July 1945, given over to Soviet forces in compliance with the Yalta agreementmarker. After the war, in 1949, a film called the Encounter at the Elbe was released from Mosfilm about this meeting of the two armies.

According to journalist Andy Rooney, who was a correspondent in Europe at the time, the Red Army raided the Hohner accordion and harmonica factory at Torgau at the time. There was nothing surprising about that, Rooney said; armies have been plundering civilian property for ages. What was surprising was that half of the soldiers in the Red Army seemed to know how to play a musical instrument. There was a woman, a singer, who had been held prisoner at Torgau during the war, Rooney said, and the Russians freed her. She gave an impromptu concert in the town square, and the sound of her voice rising above the combined accordions and harmonicas playing in unison was something one would never forget.

Gallery

File:Torgau Rathaus.jpg | Torgau town hallFile:Torgau Denkmal der Begegnung en-de1.jpg | A commemorative plaque now stands where the "East Meets West" moment took place in Torgau on Elbe Day, 1945

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