1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saxony (province)
SAXONY (Ger. Provinz Sachsen) , one of the central provinces of the kingdom of Prussia, consists mainly of what was formerly the northern part of the kingdom of Saxony, which was ceded to Prussia in 1815, but also comprises part of the duchy of Magdeburg and other districts, the connexion of which with Prussia is of earlier date. The area of the province is 9751 sq. m. It is bounded W. by Hesse-Nassau, Hanover and Brunswick, N. by Hanover and Brandenburg, E. by Brandenburg and Silesia, and S. by the kingdom of Saxony and the small Thuringian states. It is, however, very irregular in form, entirely surrounding parts of Brunswick and the Thuringian states, and itself possessing several exclaves, while the northern portion is almost severed from the southern by the duchy of Anhalt.
The major part belongs to the great North-German plain, but the western and south-western districts include parts of the Harz, with the Brocken, its highest summit, and the Thuringian Forest. About nine-tenths of Prussian Saxony belongs to the basin of the Elbe, the chief feeders of which within the province are the Saale, with its tributary the Unstrut, and the Mulde, but a small district on the west drains into the Weser.
Saxony is on the whole the most fertile province of Prussia and excels all the others in its produce of wheat and beetroot for sugar, but the nature of its soil is very unequal. The best crop-producing districts lie near the base of the Harz Mountains, such as the “Magdeburger Börde” (between Magdeburg and the Saale) and the “Goldene Aue,” and rich pasture lands occur in the river valleys, but the sandy plains of the Altmark, in thefnorth part of the province, yield but a scanty return.
Of the total area 61% is occupied by arable land, 8% by meadows and pastures and 21% by forests. Wheat and rye are exported in considerable quantities. The beetroot for sugar is grown chiefly in the district to the north of the Harz, as far as the Ohre, and on the banks of the Saale; and the amount of sugar produced is nearly as much as that of all the rest of Prussia together. Flax, hops and oilseeds are also cultivated, and large quantities of excellent fruit are grown at the foot of the Harz and in the valleys of the Unstrut and the Saale. The market-gardening of Erfurt and Quedlinburg is well known throughout Germany. The province is comparatively poor in timber, though there are some fine forests in the Harz and other hilly districts. Cattle-rearing is carried on with success in the river valleys, and more goats are met with here than in any other part of Prussia.
The principal underground wealth of Prussian Saxony consists of its salt and its brown coal, of both of which it possesses larger stores than any other part of the German empire. The chief rock-salt mines and brine springs are at Stassfurt, Schönebeck and Halle. The brown coal region extends from Oschersleben by Kalbe to Weissenfels; it is also found in the neighbourhood of Aschersleben, Bitterfeld and Wittenberg. Prussian Saxony also possesses three-fourths of the wealth of Germany in copper. The copper mines are found chiefly in the Harz district. The other mineral resources include silver (one-third of the total German yield), pit-coal, pyrites, alum, plaster of Paris, sulphur, alabaster and several varieties of good building-stone. Numerous mineral springs occur in the Harz.
In addition to the production of sugar the most important industries are the manufactures of cloth, leather, iron and steel wares, chiefly at Erfurt, Suhl and Sömmerda; spirits at Nordhausen, chemicals at Stassfurt and Schönebeck, and starch. Beer is also brewed extensively. Trade is facilitated by the great waterway of the Elbe as well as by a complete system of railways. The chief articles are wool, grain, sugar, salt, lignite and the principal manufactured products named above.
The population of the province of Saxony in 1905 was 2,979,221, an average of 305 persons to the square mile; they were almost equally divided between urban population and rural. There were 2,730,098 Protestants, 230,860 Roman Catholics and 8050 Jews. The bulk of the inhabitants are of unmixed German stock, but many of those in the east part have Wendish blood in their veins.
Prussian Saxony is divided into the three government districts of Magdeburg, Merseburg and Erfurt. The principal towns are Magdeburg, Halle, Erfurt, Halberstadt, Nordhausen, Mühlhausen, Aschersleben, Weissenfels and Zeitz. Magdeburg is the headquarters of an army corps. The provincial chambers meet at Merseburg. The province sends twenty members to the Reichstag and thirty-eight to the Prussian Abgeordnetenhaus (house of representatives) . Magdeburg is the seat of an Evangelical consistory; the Roman Catholics belong to the diocese of Paderborn. The university of Halle holds high rank among German seats of learning.
See the Handbuch der Provinz Sachsen (Magdeburg, 1900); and Jacobs, Geschichte der in der preussischen Provinz Sachsen vereinigten Gebiete (Gotha, 1884).