Nordhausen is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the Nordhausen district and the urban centre of northern Thuringia and the southern Harz region with a population of 42,000. Nordhausen is located approximately 60 km (37 miles) N of Erfurt, 80 km (50 miles) W of Halle, 85 km (53 miles) S of Braunschweig and 60 km (37 miles) E of Göttingen.
Nordhausen was first mentioned in the year 927 and became one of the most important cities in central Germany during the later Middle Ages. In the early 13th century, it became a free imperial city, so that it was an independent and republican self-ruled member of the Holy Roman Empire. Due to its long-distance trade, Nordhausen was prosperous and influential with a population of 8,000 around 1500, that was the third-largest in Thuringia after Erfurt, today's capital, and Mühlhausen, the other free imperial city in the Land. Later, World War II brought much harm to Nordhausen: in the nearby KZ Mittelbau-Dora 60,000 forced labourers had to work in the arms industry, where 20,000 of them died because of the bad conditions and in April 1945, most of the city was destroyed by Royal Air Force bombings with 8,800 casualties (more than 20% of the population) and the loss of most of the historic buildings, which made it the most destroyed city in Thuringia in WW II. Nordhausen is the birthplace of the famous mathematician Oswald Teichmüller, born 18 June 1913, died 11 September 1943, known for his groundbreaking work on the spaces named after him.
Nordhausen was once known for its tobacco industry and is still known for its distilled spirit, Nordhäuser Doppelkorn. Furthermore, it hosts the Fachhochschule Nordhausen with 2,500 students and is a starting point of the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways, which are intensely frequented by tourists traveling through the Harz mountains.
The city is situated at Zorge river, a tributary of the Helme river within the fertile region of Goldene Aue (golden floodplain) at the southern edge of the Harz mountains.
Following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, Nordhausen was included in the Kingdom of Prussia's Province of Saxony created in 1816. During the mid-19th century, the industrialisation started in Nordhausen with production of chewing tobacco, alcoholic beverages, paper and textiles. The breakthrough was reached as Nordhausen got connected to main railways in four directions between 1866 and 1869. In 1882 it became an urban district (until 1950). As the engineering industry developed after 1900, the city saw an economic heyday with large building activities during the following decades.