Wunsiedel is the seat of the Upper Franconian district of Wunsiedel in northeast Bavaria, Germany. The town became well known for its annual Luisenburg Festival and the Rudolf Hess Memorial March held there by the Neo-Nazis until 2005. Wunsiedel lies in the Fichtelgebirge Mountains in the valley of the Röslau at the foot of the Kösseine Plateau.

Wunsiedel was first mentioned in 1163 as the seat of a ministerialis, Adelbertus or Albert. The name probably originates from wunne = glades and sedel = noble seat. In 1285, Burgrave Friedrich III of Nürnberg received the fiefdom of the town from King Rudolph I of Habsburg.

In 1326, Wunsiedel was given town rights by Burgrave Friedrich IV and this was confirmed in 1328 by Emperor Louis the Bavarian. In 1430 Hans of Kotzau defeated the Hussites in the Battle of Katharinenberg, a low mountain immediately south of Wunsiedel, and in 1652 Jobst of Schirnding beat the Bohemians also on the Katharinenberg.

City of Wunsiedel.

In the Middle Ages, Wunsiedel was a centre of tin mining and achieved great economic importance through the manufacture of tin plate. In 1613, it became capital of the Sechsämterland – an area comparable in size to the modern district Wunsiedel im Fichtelgebirge. The bailiffs (Amtmänner) in Hohenberg, Weißenstadt, Kirchenlamitz, Selb and Thierstein were all subordinated to the high bailiff (Amtshauptmann) in Wunsiedel.

Wunsiedel was a part of the Hohenzollern Principality of Bayreuth until 1791/92 when the last margrave, Karl Alexander, abdicated and the region was placed under Prussian administration. It was occupied for four years by Napoleon’s troops and, in 1810, became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria.

Fires in 1476, 1547, 1607, 1636, 1644, 1646, 1657 and 1731 destroyed various parts of the town. After the last major fire in 1834, which razed two-thirds of Wunsiedel, the town was rebuilt in a classicist style.

Birthplace of the nationalist student Karl Ludwig Sand (October 5, 1795) who later went on to assassinate August von Kotzebue-a famous conservative German playwright. Kotzebue’s death was a direct result of his published ridicule of the student associations in general, however focusing harshest comments on the newly formed Burschenschaften, student organizations that supported free institutions, a national German state, uncensored press.

In addition, the affluent writer was appointed as Russia’s “ambassador” (by Russia) making his death a certainty. In his role as ambassador, Kotzebue was accused as being a “spy” while his role as editor of a literature review magazine brought him accusation of outright plagiarism. In 1817 at the Wartburg Castle, during a gathering of students, the burning of his published works with those of other “enemies” bought him to the attention of the young Karl Sand.

In retrospect, a case for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as a complicating factor, could probably be made as Karl Sand witnessed, helplessly, the drowning of his good friend just months prior to the murder.

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