views updated May 21 2018


City in north Rhine-Westphalia, west central Germany. The scene of treaties ending the Wars of Devolution (1668) and of the Austrian Succession (1748), it was in great part destroyed in World War II (1944). The Diocese of Aachen (Aquisgranensis ) has been suffragan to Cologne since 1930. In 2001 it had 590 secular and 176 religious priests, 238 members of men's religious institutes, 1,305 members of women's religious institutes, 539 parishes, and 22 churches or mission stations. There are 1,232,300 Catholics out of a population of 2,012,000. It is 3,937 square kilometers in area. The name Aquae Grani, first mentioned at the time of Charlemagne, means water.

The earliest traces of Christianity appear in graves and in a chapel (5th century) at an ancient bath shrine, which King Pepin replaced with a small palace chapel. Charlemagne (786814) had the palace and chapel rebuilt (c. 786), and in the last part of his reign resided in Aachen, the center of the Carolingian Empire. Aachen's importance appears also in the many Carolingian synods held there, the Aachen rule for canons, and the influence of its court academy and palace school during the Carolingian Renaissance. As a result of the tradition of Charlemagne, 30 German kings were crowned in the cathedral (9361531), which rulers favored with gifts. Until 1802 Aachen belonged to the Diocese of Liège. Under the French it became a diocese (180221), suffragan to Mechelen; then it was suppressed and became part of the restored See of cologne (1821). Resurrected as a see by the Prussian Concordat (1929), Aachen was canonically erected in 1930.

The cathedral, a major monument, began with the octagonal building of Charlemagne, modeled after S. Vitale in ravenna and the Theodosian tomb chapel at Old St. Peter's in Rome; it was probably dedicated July 17, 800. Gothic side chapels were added in the 15th century; the hall choir was completed in 1414. Cathedral treasures include the throne of Charlemagne (with six steps modeled after Solomon's), Carolingian and Ottonian Gospels, the cross of Lothair, the golden table, the pulpit of Henry II, and the bronze corona chandelier of Frederick I Barbarossa.

From Pepin's time the palace chapel housed important relics, and the number increased under Charlemagne. Its Great Relics, apparently exhibited in Charlemagne's time, are the swaddling clothes of Christ, the loin cloth of the Lord, the cloth for John the Baptist's head, and the cloak of Mary. Veneration of these increased through the Middle Ages, with pilgrims coming from all central Europe. The seven-year cycle of the pilgrimage is known from the 14th century. At first kept in a Carolingian shrine, the Great Relics have been in a Gothic Marian shrine since 1239. The Shrine of Charlemagne (1215) houses his remains, exhumed in 1165 when a local cult of St. Charlemagne developed. The cathedral also has a 14th-century statue of Our Lady that is venerated as miraculous.

Many spiritual institutions have arisen in Aachen: St. Adalbert chapter, the Benedictine Burtscheid, smaller cloisters, hospitals, and a leprosarium outside the city. Charitable foundations include the 13th-century Alexian Brothers (Beghards) and the 17th-century Sisters of St. Elizabeth. Three pupils of the poetess Luise Hensel, a teacher at St. Leonhard (182732), founded orders: Clara fey (181594), Franziska schervier (181976), and Pauline von Mallinckrodt (181881). Around Leonhard Nellessen (17831859), pastor of St. Nikolaus, arose the Aachen circle of priests, devoted to pastoral care and works of charity. Aachen was the origin of the May devotion in the 19th century. The Francis Xavier Mission Society (now part of the Society for the propagation of the faith) and the Child Jesus Society (now part of the Pontifical Association of the Holy Childhood) were founded there. Philipp Höver founded the Society of the Poor Brothers of St. Francis to care for school dropouts (1857). Recently the administration of Misereor, a work originated by the German episcopacy for spiritual and bodily needs in underdeveloped lands, has been in Aachen.

Bibliography: j. ramackers, "Werkstattheimat der Grab-platte Papst Hadrians I," Römische Quartalschrift für christliche Altertumskunde und für Kirchenge-schichte 59 (Freiburg 1964) 3678; "Das Grab Karls des Grossen und die Frage nach dem Ursprung des Aachener Oktogons," Historisches Jahrbuch der Görres-Gesellschaft 75 (Munich 1956) 123153; Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, eds. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanishe Konsil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al. (1966) 1: 13. Zeitschrift des Aachener Geschichtsvereins, v.176 (Aachen 18791964). Aachener Heimatgeschichte, ed. a. huyskens (Aachen 1924). Handbuch des Bistums A. (2d ed. Aachen 1962). j. torsy, Geschichte des Bistums A. während der französischen Zeit (18021814) (Bonn 1940). c. faymonville et al., eds., Die Kunstdenkmäler der Stadt A., 3 v. (Die Kunstdenkmäler der Rheinprovinz, ed. p. clemen, v.10; Düsseldorf 191624). Aachener Kunstblätter, v.1629 (195764). w. boeckelmann, "Von den Ursprüngen der Aachener Pfalzkapelle," Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch 19 (1957) 938. w. schÖne, "Die künstlerische und liturgische Gestalt der Pfalzkapelle Karls des Grossen in A.," Zeitschrift für Kunstwissenschaft 15 (1961) 97148. h. p. hilger, Der Skulpturenzyklus im Chor des Aachener Domes (Die Kunstdenkmäler des Rheinlands, op. cit. Beiheft 8; Essen 1961). j. fleckenstein, Die Hofkapelle der deutschen Könige, v. 1 (Stuttgart 1959). a. schulte, Die Kaiserund Königskrönungen zu Aachen, 8131531 (Darmstadt 1965). e. meuthen, Aachener Urkunden 1101-1250 (Bonn 1972). v. gielen, Aachen unter Napoleon (Aachen 1977). w. kaemmerer, Aachener Quellentexte (Aachen 1980). r. schlÖgl, Glaube und Religion in der Säkularisierung: die katholische StadtKönl, Aachen, Münster 17001840 (Munich 1995). a. hausmann, Aachen im Mittelalter: königlicher Stuhl und kaiserliche Stadt (Aachen 1997). d.p.j. wynands, ed., Der Aachener Marienschrein: eine Festschrift (Aachen 2000). m. kramp, ed., Krönungen: Könige in Aachen, Geschichte und Mythos (Mainz 2000).

[j. ramackers]


views updated Jun 11 2018


AACHEN (Aix-la-Chapelle ; in Jewish sources: אש, אכא, אייש), city on the German-Belgian border; former capital of the Carolingian Empire. The delegation sent by *Charlemagne to the caliph Harun al-Rashid in 797 included a Jew, Isaac, who probably acted as interpreter or guide, and subsequently reported back to Aachen. Jewish merchants were active in Aachen by about 820. A "Jews' street" is known to have existed from the 11th century. The Aachen community, which paid only 15 marks in tax to the emperor in 1241, cannot have been large. In 1349 the Jews were "given" to the count of Juelich, who received their taxes and authorized Jewish residence in Aachen. The Jews were expelled from Aachen in 1629, most settling in neighboring Burtscheid. However, Jewish moneylenders were again active in Aachen about ten years later. They were included in the municipal jurisdiction in 1777. Prior to the inauguration of a Jewish cemetery in 1823, the Jews of Aachen buried their dead in Vaals across the border in the Netherlands. In 1847 the community was organized under the Prussian Jewish Community Statute. A Jewish elementary school was founded in 1845. The synagogue, built in 1862, was destroyed in the 1938 *Kristallnacht.

The Jewish population had increased from 114 in 1816 to 1,345 by 1933. In 1939, after emigration and arrests, there were 782 Jews living in the city. Others subsequently managed to flee and the rest were deported between March 1942 and September 1944. After the war, there were 62 Jews in Aachen. A new synagogue and communal center were built at the expense of the German government in 1957. In 1966 the Jewish community of Aachen and environs numbered 163. As a result of the immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the number of community members increased from 326 in 1989 to 1,434 in 2003. Another new synagogue and community center were inaugurated in 1995.


H. Jaulus, Geschichte der Aachener Juden (1924). add. bibliography: M. Bierganz, A. Kreutz, Juden in Aachen (1988); H. Lepper, Von der Emanzipation zum Holocaust. Die Israelitische Synagogengemeinde Aachen 1801–1942, 2 vols. (1994).

[Ernst Roth /

Stefan Rohrbacher (2nd ed.)]


views updated Jun 11 2018


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.


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

Michael S.Neiberg


views updated May 11 2018

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.