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Aachen

Aachen (ä´khən), Aix-la-Chapelle (ĕks-lä-shäpĕl´), or Bad Aachen (bät ä´khən), city (1994 pop. 246,570), North Rhine–Westphalia, W Germany, near the Belgian and Dutch borders. One of the great historic cities of Europe, it is now chiefly important as a rail and road hub and as an industrial center. Almost every branch of the iron and steel industry is represented in the area. Its manufactures include textiles, electrical goods, food (chocolate and candy), glass, machinery, rubber goods, metal products, and furniture. The city's hot mineral baths, frequented by the Romans in the 1st cent. AD, are still used to treat gout, rheumatism, and skin diseases. Aachen is the site of a technical university and numerous other educational institutions. There are several cultural institutions, notably the Ludwig Art Forum, which exhibits modern art.

Charlemagne, who was probably born in Aachen in 742, made the city his northern capital and the leading center of Carolingian civilization. He built a splendid palace and founded the great cathedral, which contains his tomb. The cathedral, which has an octagonal nucleus modeled on the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, received extensive Gothic additions in the 14th–15th cent. From 936 to 1531, German kings were usually crowned at Aachen. Treaties ending the War of Devolution (1668) and the War of the Austrian Succession (1748) were signed there (see Aix-la-Chapelle, Treaty of). It was occupied (1794) by French troops and later annexed (1801) by France. It passed to Prussia in 1815. At the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle (1818) Czar Alexander I of Russia unsuccessfully proposed that the Holy Alliance be tightened. From 1918 to 1930 the city was occupied by the Allies as a result of Germany's defeat in World War I. During World War II approximately two thirds of Aachen was destroyed by aerial bombardment, and the city was the first major German city to fall (Oct., 1944) to the Allies.

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Aachen

AACHEN

AACHEN. An important, if costly, symbolic victory for the Allies during World War II, Aachen was the first German city captured and held by Allied troops. Sitting along a system of German defensive works known as the West Wall, the city was taken by the American First Army, commanded by General Courtney Hodges, after a bitter series of street-to-street battles in September and October 1944.

The original American advance toward Aachen in September came as a result of General Dwight Eisenhower's decision on 10 September 1944 to support the ill-fated British and U.S. airborne operation code-named Market Garden, which occurred west of Aachen in Belgium and Holland from 17 September to 26 September 1944. Even after Market Garden's failure, Hodges kept up the fight for Aachen. The bitterest fighting occurred from 15 to 21 October, with the Americans using heavy air and artillery bombardments to support infantry slowly advancing from house to house. The German Seventh Army, having delayed the Americans by five weeks, withdrew to more defensible positions on the 21st. Aachen demonstrated that despite its defeat in France, the German army was far from beaten. The optimistic claims of some officers that the Allies would be in Berlin by Christmas were laid bare. Much hard fighting remained.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Doubler, Michael. Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1994.

Michael S.Neiberg

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Aachen

Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) City in sw North Rhine-Westphalia, w Germany. The city is noted for its sulphur baths, used by the Romans, which are the hottest in n Europe. It was the site of medieval imperial diets and the coronations of the monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire from 1349 to 1531. The local economy is dominated by manufacturing. Industries: iron and steel, machinery, textiles. Pop. (1998 est.) 251,391.

http://www.aachen.de

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Aachen

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