Bautzen, located in the Upper Lusatia region, along the Spree River in Saxony, dates back to the Stone Age, though it was not mentioned in writing (as "Budusin") until the eleventh century. The city acquired its present name in 1868.
Its history has been marked by several widely documented events, including the pogroms on Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") from November 9-10, 1938, so named for the orchestrated destruction of numerous synagogues, homes, and Jewish businesses by Nazi stormtroopers.
It is also the site of Bautzen I and Bautzen II, prisons that acquired notoriety as the "Yellow Misery" and the "Stasi Prison," respectively, for their treatment of those who were considered political dissidents during the National Socialist Regime. According to the Gedenk Stätte Bautzen (Bautzen Memorial), "Bautzen is the symbol of political imprisonment in Germany."
The city, a regional administrative center, is also reknowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture and its population of Sorbs (descendants of Slavic settlers), whose language (similar to Czech) and heritage have long contributed to Bautzen's culture.
This article was originally published in November 2010, and has been updated for the
May 2011 paperback release.
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