Special Sub-Topic: The Elbe
|Where is the source of the Elbe?|
The Giant Mountains. Like most major rivers, the Elbe is formed by a number of smaller rivers. The place generally acknowledged as the source is Labska Louka in the Giant Mountains in the Czech Republic.
|What is the Czech name for the Elbe?|
Labe. The Romans called the river "Albis", and it is probable that the German name for the river is derived from this. The Vltava (German name: Moldau), the river on which Prague is situated, is one of the main tributaries of the Labe/Elbe.
|The first large town on the Elbe is called Hradec Kralove in Czech. Just outside the town the Prussians inflicted a devastating defeat on the Austrians in 1866, which resulted in the expulsion of Austria from Germany. By what name is the battle generally known in English? |
Sadowa. In German the city and battle are called "Königgrätz". The other three places were also the scenes of battles in the Seven Weeks' War of 1866. The Prussian victory was in no small measure due the meticulous planning by the Prussian General Staff, headed from 1857 onwards by Moltke (Senior, 1800-91). He also commanded the Prussian army in the field. Sadowa (Czech: Sadova) was actually only one sector of the battlefield.
A little further downstream is Kolin (German: Kollin) where the Austrians defeated the Prussians under Frederick II the Great in 1757, a victory commemorated by the "Gloriette" in the gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna.
|Prague is on the Elbe.|
f. Prague is on the Vltava (German: Moldau), which is one of the main tributaries of the Elbe.
|On entering Germany, the Elbe passes through a range of mountains. What is this region between the Czech border (near Bad Schandau) and Pirna called?|
Saxon Switzerland (Sächsische Schweiz). Saxon Switzerland is a range of rocky sandstone mountains. Some of the rocks look like sculpted figures. The Elbe flows through a gorge for most of the this stretch. The best known of the fortresses that tower above the river is Königstein an der Elbe (not to be confused with Königstein im Taunus).
|Below Pirna the Elbe flows through a major city that was subjected to an exceptionally severe air raid by the Allies on 13-14 February 1945 - a raid that is still controversial. What is the city called? |
Dresden. It was a case of area bombing, and the main target was the civilian population. At least 25,000 people were killed. It is widely argued that the city contained almost no military objectives and that no attempt was made to hit the few that were there. Moreover, before the raid Dresden had been generally acknowledged to be one of the most outstanding baroque and rococo cities in Germany and had acquired epithets like 'the Florence of Central Europe'. Dresden is the capital of Saxony.
|There is a city on the Elbe that is often called the 'birthplace of the Reformation'. It is closely associated with Martin Luther - and also with Hamlet. What is it called?|
Wittenberg. There is a town on the Elbe called Wittenberge, too! It is further downstream. In 1517 Martin Luther, a professor at the University of Wittenberg, challenged (among other things) the right of the Church to sell indulgences (that is, remission of time of purgatory). At the time, he hoped to reform the Catholic Church from within. However, in the course of the period 1517-1530 a breach between the reformers and the Catholics became inevitable. The University of Wittenberg, founded in 1502, found itself in serious financial difficulty after the Napoleonic Wars and merged with Halle University in 1817 and since 1946 the university has been called Halle-Wittenberg. It celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2002. (Worms, which is much further west, on the Rhine, is the place where Luther defended himself before the Imperial Diet and Emperor Charles V in 1521, only to be declared an outlaw).
|This town is situated at the confluence of the Elbe and Mulde. It was home to the Bauhaus and also to the main Junkers aircraft factory. Which of these is it?|
Dessau. Dessau is essentially an industrial town. For centuries it was the capital of one of the Anhalt duchies, Anhalt-Dessau. The name "Anhalt" is preserved in the name of the state ('Land') Sachsen-Anhalt. The Bauhaus, headed by Walter Gropius, moved there from Weimar in 1925, and was closed a few years later by the Nazis. Wörlitz is a small town near Dessau and is noted for its gardens laid out in the 18th century. Meissen is the town where porcelain was first made in Europe.
|Further downstream in the Elbe lies the city that has been Germany's leading port since the 17th century. Which of these is it? |
Hamburg. Hamburg is one of the leading European ports and broadly comparable to Rotterdam and Antwerp. It is a German state ('Land'). Until the early modern period the Baltic port of Lübeck was busier and more prosperous, but was overtaken by Hamburg in the 17th century. (It is not possible to give an exact date).
|The Elbe flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven. About 70 kilometres
(45 miles) offshore there is a small island that was under British rule from 1815-1890. What is it called?|
Heligoland. Heligoland (German: Helgoland) was seized by Britain from Denmark in 1807 and the Congress of Vienna formally awarded the island to Britain in 1815. It was considered of strategic significance and in 1890 it was ceded to Germany within the framework of the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, which set out agreed spheres of British and German influence in key areas of East Africa. (There is a widespread misconception, probably arising from the name of the treaty, that the two islands were exchanged).
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