Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004


Land (state), southwestern Germany. It has an area of 13,804 square miles (35,751 square km) and is bordered by France on the west, Switzerland on the south, and by the Länder (states) of Bayern (Bavaria) on the east and Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate) and Hessen (Hesse) on the northwest and north. By the late 20th century Baden-Württemberg ranked third in both area and population among the German states, having grown more than any other in the period following World War II. Formed under post-World War II occupational rule, and confirmed by a December 1951 referendum, the Land consists of three former Länder: Württemberg-Baden (in the American zone) and Südwürttemberg-Hohenzollern and Südbaden (both in the French zone). The merger of these Länder took effect in 1952. The state's capital is at Stuttgart.

The land.

Within the 1,026-mile- (1,651-kilometre-) long border of Baden-Württemberg lies one of the most geographically varied territories of Germany, with the forests of the upland regions alternating with fertile highlands, green meadows, lakes, and marshes. The geographical boundaries of the Land are the waters of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) and the upper Rhine in the south, the widening Rhine Valley in the west, the River Main in the north, and the River Iller in the east. In addition, the source of the River Danube is at Donaueschingen, a popular excursion point, and the river cuts through the eastern part of the state on the first part of its journey across the European continent. The Danube is the main drainage basin south of the European water divide, which bisects the Land.

Using criteria from physical and human geography, it is possible to divide the state of Baden-Württemberg into the following eight regions.

Before the Roman conquest of western Europe, the upper valley of the Rhine River was one of the main trading arteries on the Continent, and this region also included immense hardwood forests, most of which have fallen prey to the timber industry over the ensuing centuries. The fertile southern part of the upper Rhine Valley now has many vegetable orchards, and the sun-drenched vineyards around Mount Kaiserstuhl produce wine that ranks among the finest of all wines produced in Germany.

Baden-Württemberg contains Germany's largest continuous forest area, the Black Forest, which spreads westward to the banks of the Rhine River. Idyllic valleys break its uniformity, and, over the years, low-lying portions have filled with water, with many small lakes now contributing to the forest's enchanting, if somewhat foreboding, scenery. The highest point is the Feldberg, 4,898 feet (1,493 m). The Black Forest edges into the Hotzenwald (Hotzen Forest) in the south, where many lakes and reservoirs feed numerous power stations. Typical of this area is the so-called Schwarzwaldhaus, or Black Forest house, with its roof jutting far beyond its sides and its driveway leading straight up into the hayloft under the roof of the barn. The owners of these small holdings live predominantly from cattle breeding, the timber industry, and tourism.

The Alpenvorland (alpine foreland) is a deep trough at the edge of the Alps stretching from the formerly volcanic area of the Hegau Mountains in the west to the meadows of the Allgäu in the east. Within its area lies the famous Bodensee and numerous rolling hills with many lakes and marshes, which give the region a distinct appearance. The marshy ground is used for therapeutic baths, hence the number of health spas in this area. Here, too, small holdings predominate, with a solitary main building containing living quarters in the front, barn and hayloft in the back, threshing floor in the middle, and stables lining both sides. The farmers' main income is derived from cattle breeding and dairy products. The Allgäuer cheese is internationally famous.

The Schwäbische Alb (Swabian Alb), emerging from the flats of the Alpenvorland but sectioned off from it by the Danube Valley, covers the area between the Black Forest and the Fränkische Alb (Franconian Alb). In the north its mountains fall abruptly into the valley of the Neckar River. Chalk formations and depleted forests make the Schwäbische Alb a barren terrain and Baden-Württemberg's poorest district. The weaving of linen textiles and sheep raising were the main sources of income for the population before the onset of synthetic textiles curtailed the breeding of sheep and forced many farmers to seek additional income in the cities of Heidenheim, Ulm, Reutlingen, or Balingen.

The fertile Neckarland region belongs among the most densely populated areas in the entire country. There is a profusion of vineyards along the Neckar and its many tributaries; other produce grown in the region includes potatoes, sugar beets, and a variety of fruit and vegetables, together with some grain. The many medieval castle ruins have left a distinctive mark on the partly forested landscape, which is also broken by occasional cornfields. Small villages used to line the local highways, but since the end of World War II new high buildings have pushed city and town limits further and further into these surrounding rural districts.

The granary of Baden-Württemberg, the Hohenlohic district, lies around the old free city of Schwäbisch Hall and extends all the way to the borders of Bavaria at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Unlike the custom of the Alb region, where holdings were divided among heirs, the laws of primogeniture (inheritance by the firstborn) in this area resulted in a preservation of large estates. However, another effect of this has been that the many young people who do not inherit any land at all have had to find work somewhere else. The numerous, often well preserved, castles in this area are nevertheless ample evidence of the wealth of Hohenlohe in past centuries.

The Odenwald (Oden Forest) is often called the Badisch-Sibirien (“Siberia of Baden?). This hilly region unites Baden-Württemberg with the Land of Hessen, in the north. Its location outside the main traffic arteries as well as its raw climate prevented any cultural or economic growth for centuries, and only in the years since 1950 has a developing small industry created extra income possibilities for the local small farmer.

Located between the Rhine and Neckar rivers, the fertile Kraichgau district is the site of wheat, corn (maize), tobacco, and fruit culture. The Schwetzinger asparagus of this area is famous far beyond its borders. The castles of Schwetzingen and Bruchsal, reconstructed since World War II, complement the many castles around the cities of Karlsruhe and Mannheim.

The climate of Baden-Württemberg differs greatly among the various regions of the Land. The upper Rhine Valley is the warmest area, with a yearly mean average of 48°–50° F (9°–10° C), whereas the Alb, the “raw Alb,? is the most inhospitable, with a mean average of about 40°–44° F (4.5°–7° C). Here, and in parts of the Black Forest, there is a yearly average of two months of frost. As a rule, spring comes to the southern part of the upper Rhine Valley before April 20 but does not reach the highest regions of the Alb until after May 25. The latter region also has the highest amount of precipitation in the Land, because of the westerly winds that drive ocean cloud formations across France to discharge over the slopes of the Black Forest and the Alb. The annual rainfall in the upper Rhine Valley is 26 inches (650 mm), compared with 79 inches (2,000 mm) on the Feldberg, a favourite ski resort. The average precipitation in the Alb district is 40 inches (a little over 1,000 mm), but in the valley of the Neckar River and in the valley of the Tauber River, lying farther east, the amount of precipitation is often less than 24 inches (600 mm), and most of this is summer rain.

A characteristic feature of Baden-Württemberg is the great number of urban settlements; the urban density is two to three times that of northern Germany. By the late 20th century, about 190 of these settlements, many of which had been founded by the Staufers (one of the numerous lesser rulers who governed this area at one point or another in its long history), had populations of more than 10,000. Such towns as Ludwigsburg, Rastatt, and Öhringen still retain their typical residential character. The garrison towns, such as Ulm and Münsingen, are more industrial in appearance. Heidelberg, Tübingen, and Freiburg im Breisgau, university centres dating back to the Middle Ages, have been joined in recent years by new universities in Konstanz and Ulm.

The people.

The northern German regards the people of Baden-Württemberg with some contempt. The nickname Schwaben, or even Spätzle-Schwaben, is often used. Spätzle, a local variety of homemade dumplings, is the favourite staple dish of local residents. The term Schwaben is a misnomer, since most of the native Swabians, descendants of the Suabi, an ancient Germanic tribe, live only in the southeast of the state. The people in the west and southwest of Baden-Württemberg are Alemanni, blood relatives of the French Alsatians and the neighbouring Swiss Alemanni. The influence of the Palatinate population is very strong in the northwest region of Baden-Württemberg, whereas the Franconians pushed their way into the centre of the state from the northeast. The linguistic boundary between Franconians and Swabians runs approximately from Baden-Baden in the west, through the Stuttgart area, to Crailsheim in the east.

The geographical boundary between religions in the Land has no connection with the origin of the people. Catholics outnumber other denominations in the predominantly Alemannic Südbaden and Südwürttemberg, Protestants and Evangelists constitute the majority in the more Franconian Nordwürttemberg, and both faiths are more or less equally represented in Nordbaden. Historical developments within the state account for these differences: some ruling houses were Catholic, others were Lutheran Protestant, and each left its mark on the local subjects. In addition to these two main religions, there is a great variety of smaller sects and free churches, especially in Württemberg, most of them a part of the Pietistic movement or of other Protestant origin.

Baden-Württemberg's great post-World War II expansion owed much to the fact that almost a quarter of its population is composed of people who moved to the Land as fugitives or displaced persons from the Soviet-occupied east. Their influx to this particular region is partially explained by ancestral links between them and the states of Baden and Württemberg in previous centuries. In addition, many simply saw opportunities for a new start in this part of Germany, which had been spared the brunt of wartime destruction. From 1945 to 1950, the rural areas of the state provided the best prospects for housing and employment, but the following years saw a return of the working force to the industrial centres—so much so that many a local farmer's son or daughter got caught up in the ensuing migration from rural areas to the cities. The capital, Stuttgart, witnessed a spectacular growth, and there was severe depopulation of many rural districts. By the late 20th century, only the high rents in the cities apparently kept even more people from moving to the locality in which they worked. Many preferred to build their own home on cheaper ground in small dormitory villages, and to commute instead. Stuttgart alone has more than 100,000 commuters daily, almost one-quarter of the total working force, and one-quarter of the entire working force of the Land are also daily commuters.

The economy.

Baden-Württemberg may be regarded as the one German Land in which economic life is dominated by middle-class businessmen and small farmers. Although such world-famous firms as Daimler-Benz started as small workshops in Stuttgart and Mannheim, there is virtually no heavy industry in the region. On the other hand, Baden-Württemberg is the centre for highly specialized mechanical and textile industries. The lack of valuable mineral and other deposits in Baden-Württemberg forces the population to earn its livelihood by the manufacture, improvement, and finishing of goods. Baden-Württemberg produces the majority of all the clocks, watches, and custom jewelry that originate in the country. Substantial amounts of Germany's leather goods, musical instruments, medical instruments, food and agricultural produce, cigars, and hardware are also produced in Baden-Württemberg.

The industrial centres of the state are concentrated in the Neckar Valley between Esslingen, Stuttgart, and Heilbronn, and this area accounts for more than half the total production of the Land. Other industrial areas are found on the banks of the Rhine near Mannheim—the Land's second largest city after Stuttgart—and near Karlsruhe and Ulm. More recently, the border district of the upper Rhine has gained in economic importance; since it is situated close to the French and Swiss borders and is in the centre of the European Economic Community, it has become the preferred site for new branch offices of German, as well as French and Swiss, companies.

During the late 20th century, the majority of all those gainfully employed in Baden-Württemberg worked in the production industry, with a shrinking proportion in agriculture and forestry. Trade and commerce and other fields of the economy employed the remaining workers.

Agriculture continues to pose problems as farm holdings of less than 12 acres (about 5 hectares) of arable land apiece are numerous. Their economic survival was seen to depend on their ability to buy or lease additional land. Similarly, several thousand farmers with slightly larger holdings had to specialize—in animal breeding, produce, or wine production—if they, too, were not to become bankrupt. Of the state's total number of farms, a small proportion were larger than 72 acres (30 hectares) of land. Most of the small farmers were therefore forced to earn their livelihood in industry, returning to their farms in the afternoons, and taking their factory vacations during harvest time.

Many of the farmers of the late 20th century added to their income by converting either their own homes, or other nearby property, to tourist use. The well-known spas of Baden-Baden, Wildbad, and Badenweiler provided additional tourist facilities, while many other smaller spas had been enlarged and improved considerably with financial help from the Land authorities.

Lacking natural resources, and forced to depend mainly on commerce and trade, Baden-Württemberg pays particular attention to its transportation system. As early as 1955 the government prepared a general plan that, by the late 20th century, had been twice improved and adapted to more recent technological developments. The plan called for three express highways (autobahns), traversing the state from north to south, and four more running from west to east. By the mid-1980s most of these highways had been built and were supported by an extensive system of improved four-lane smaller highways, together with appropriate railway developments. The Rhine and Neckar have been improved as waterways, augmenting this intricate network. By 1971 the Neckar had been canalized as far as Plochingen, and the Rhine could be used for shipping as far as Rheinfelden. Finally, Baden-Württemberg has a major international airport near Stuttgart and many smaller airfields.

Government and social conditions.

In the mid-1980s the state assembly (Landtag) of Baden-Württemberg had 126 members, distributed in proportion to the population of the four administrative districts of Nordwürttemberg (capital Stuttgart), Südwürttemberg-Hohenzollern (capital Tübingen), Südbaden (capital Freiburg), and Nordbaden (capital Karlsruhe). The Union of Christian Democrats has been the dominant political party throughout the state's history, either governing alone or in coalition with the Social Democrats or the Free Democrats.

The Land is divided into two judicial districts: those of the supreme assize courts of Baden and Württemberg, each including several provincial courts and many local courts. The local courts were extensively reorganized into larger districts in the late 20th century. A peculiarity of Baden-Württemberg is its community courts, in which lay officials may settle civil rights disputes within the village or community. The local notary offices in Baden-Württemberg are also a unique feature among the German Länder.

The Centre for the Clearing of National Socialist Crimes (Zentrale Stelle zur Aufklärung nationalsozialistischer Verbrechen) in Ludwigsburg has gained an international reputation, sifting thousands of documents from foreign archives concerning atrocities committed by Germans under the Third Reich. It has also undertaken court proceedings against former Nazis.

The German supreme courts are located in Karlsruhe; the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) settles constitutional questions, and the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) is the highest court of appeal for criminal and civil law in the Federal Republic.

At the end of World War II the greater part of Baden-Württemberg was occupied by American troops, and United States military headquarters have continued to be located in Heidelberg, with many American garrisons in the cities and towns of northern Württemberg and northern Baden. The headquarters of the limited French forces are in Baden-Baden, while the commander of the German forces for Baden-Württemberg has his headquarters in Ulm.

Baden-Württemberg has more universities than any of the other Länder of Germany. In addition to the old classical universities of Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Tübingen, there are technical universities at Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, an agricultural university in Stuttgart-Hohenheim, and a university in Mannheim that specializes in economics. The Ulm University for medicine and natural sciences and the reform University of Konstanz were both founded in the 1960s. There are also many other institutions of higher education. Approximately two-thirds of the three- to six-year-olds in the Land are enrolled in kindergartens, which obtain most of their support from the community.

From the 1950s onward, the Land government has been greatly concerned with the social welfare of its citizens. It has produced a hospital plan, a plan for the aged, a plan for youth, and an extensive social report. As a result, medical services were extensively improved during the late 20th century, with many specialized hospitals having been constructed, and with the further enlargement and modernization of many additional existing hospitals.

It is not surprising that living costs, wages, and rents differ greatly in the various parts of the state because of its diverse economic structure, with the rural areas being low in living costs and wages and the cities offering high wages, often with excessively high rents. Generally, however, the level of personal earning power in Baden-Württemberg exceeds that of other Länder in the German Federal Republic.

Cultural life

Baden-Württemberg is strong in architectural monuments. Gothic churches abound in Ulm and Freiburg; and Baroque churches in Weingarten (Kreis Ravensburg), Birnau, Steinhausen, Zwiefalten, and Mannheim, together with the former Kaiserpfalz (Kaiser Palace) in Wimpfen and the castle of Rastatt, are popular sightseeing attractions. The state theatres in Karlsruhe and Stuttgart have an international reputation, particularly marked in the case of the Stuttgart ballet. Of the provincial and city theatres, the Mannheimer Nationaltheater merits special mention; Friedrich Schiller's Die Räuber (The Robbers) had its world premiere on this stage. The chamber orchestra of Stuttgart (Stuttgarter Kammerorchester) has a growing reputation. Such poets and writers as Friedrich Schiller, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Hermann Hesse, together with the great philosophers Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel and Martin Heidegger, are among the Land's most famous sons. The painter and engraver Otto Dix made an important contribution to the German Expressionist movement.

Two of the radio broadcast stations in the Land, the Süddeutsche Rundfunk in Stuttgart and the Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden, have well-known popular orchestras, and each broadcasts different program services. In addition to five or more important regional newspapers, the Stuttgarter Zeitung is of national significance.

The Baden-Württembergian is particularly likely to be a member of a club or society, and membership in such bodies is far above the average of the other Länder of Germany. Singing, sports, and gardening clubs abound throughout the Land, which is also a leader in the number of local historical and archaeological societies. The Schwäbische Albverein (Swabian Alb Walking Club) is the largest such organization in all of western Germany. Like the Schwarzwaldverein (Black Forest Walking Club), it concerns itself mainly with wildlife preservation.

The numerous adult education clubs and the many university extension courses in the Land testify to the continuing importance of educational tradition in the region. Since 1970 all branches of public adult education have been brought together in the Volksbildungswerk. Pop. (1989 est.) 9,432,709.

Additional reading

Eberhard Konstanzer, Die Entstehung des Landes Baden-Württemberg (1969), is a history of southwest Germany, with emphasis on the period from 1945 to the present; earlier history is treated in Ernst Muller, Kleine Geschichte Württembergs (1949). See also H. Gardiner Barnum, Market Centers and Hinterlands in Baden-Württemberg (1966), for commerce; and W.M. Schede, Baden-Württemberg: A Panorama in Color (1965), for a description of the area.

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