Sigmaringen is a town in southern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Situated on the upper Danube, it is the capital of the Sigmaringen district.


Coat of arms
Location of Sigmaringen within Sigmaringen district
Coordinates: 48°5′12″N 9°12′59″E
Admin. regionTübingen
  MayorThomas Schärer
  Total92.85 km2 (35.85 sq mi)
580 m (1,900 ft)
  Density190/km2 (480/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes07571, 07570 (Gutenstein), 07577 (Jungnau)
Vehicle registrationSIG

Sigmaringen is renowned for its castle, Schloss Sigmaringen, which was the seat of the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1850 and is still owned by the Hohenzollern family.


Sigmaringen lies in the Danube valley, surrounded by wooded hills in the south of the Swabian Alb around 40 km away from Lake Constance.

The surrounding towns are on the north, Winterlingen (in the district of Zollernalb) and Veringenstadt, on the east, Bingen, Sigmaringendorf, and Scheer, on the south, Mengen, Krauchenwies, Inzigkofen, and Meßkirch, and on the west, Leibertingen, Beuron, and Stetten am kalten Markt. The city is made up from the following districts: Sigmaringen (inner-city), Gutenstein, Jungnau, Laiz, Oberschmeien and Unterschmeien.


Sigmaringen was first documented in 1077 and was in the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1850, after which it became the Prussian Province of Hohenzollern.

Prehistory and early history

The history of settlement in the territory of the present town Sigmaringen dates back to the Paleolithic.[2]

Middle Ages

In the 11th century, the end of the Early Middle Ages, the first castle was built on the rock that protected the valley. The first written reference[3] is from 1077, when King Rudolf of Rheinfelden tried in vain to conquer Sigmaringen castle. The official city foundation was in 1250. In 1325 the city was sold to Ulrich III, Count of Württemberg. In 1460 and 1500, the castle was rebuilt into a chateau. About the county of Werdenberg Sigmaringen came in 1535 to the high noble family of the Hohenzollern.

Modern times

In 1632 the Swedes occupied the castle during the Thirty Years' War.

From 1806 to 1849 Sigmaringen was the capital of the sovereign Principality Hohenzollern and residence of the princes of Hohenzollern. As a result of the Revolution in Sigmaringen of 1848, the Princes of Hechingen and Sigmaringen waived on their rule, whereby both principalities in 1850 fell to Prussia. From 1850 to 1945 Sigmaringen was the seat of Prussian Government for the Province of Hohenzollern. Karl Anton von Hohenzollern was 1858-1862 Prime Minister of Prussia. From 1914 to 1918 around 150 men from the town lost their lives during World War I. In the Nazi era a Gestapo office was in Sigmaringen. From 1937 it belonged to the Gestapo Stuttgart.[4]

Between 1934 and 1942 more than 100 men were sterilized because of "hereditary diseases". During the Nazi medical murders, the "T4", became on 12 December 1940 for the first time 71 mentally handicapped and mentally ill patients victims of Nazi injustice. The deportation led them into the Grafeneck Euthanasia Centre, where the men and women were murdered as "unworthy of life".[5] After the closure of Grafeneck in December 1940, on 14 March 1941 a further deportation to the Hadamar Euthanasia Centre was made.

Vichy French enclave (1944–1945)

See also Commission gouvernementale de Sigmaringen (in French).

On September 7, 1944, following the Allied invasion of France, Philippe Pétain and members of the Vichy government cabinet were relocated to Germany. A city-state ruled by the government in exile headed by Fernand de Brinon was established at Sigmaringen. There were three embassies in the city-state, representing each of Vichy-France's allies: Germany, Italy, and Japan.

French writers Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Lucien Rebatet and Roland Gaucher, fearing for their lives because of their political and anti-Semitic writings, fled along with the Vichy government to Sigmaringen. Céline's novel D'un château l'autre (English: Castle to Castle) describes the fall of Sigmaringen. The city was taken by Free French forces on April 22, 1945. Pétain returned voluntarily to France, where he stood trial for treason.


The following religions are present in Sigmaringen:

Transportation infrastructure

Three railways meet in Sigmaringen, the Danube Valley Railway leading from Donaueschingen to Ulm, the Tübingen–Sigmaringen railway from Tübingen to Aulendorf, and the line operated by the Hohenzollerische Landesbahn from Sigmaringen to Hechingen.

Sigmaringen lies in the serving area of Verkehrsverbund Neckar-Alb-Donau (NALDO)[6].

Notable residents

Sigmaringen was the birthplace of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Roman Catholic martyr of the Counter-Reformation in Switzerland, and Ferdinand of Romania, King of Romania. It was one of the residences of deceased Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the late representative of the house, who was the first in the line of succession to the throne of Romania, by Salic law. Frederick Miller, founder of the Miller Brewing Company, was living in Sigmaringen during the start of his brewing career.

People who worked locally

  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894–1961), pro-Nazi and antisemitic French writer, fled in 1944 to Sigmaringen, as well as the Vichy government had been housed there.
  • Lucien Rebatet (1903–1972), pro-Nazi and antisemitic French writer, fled in 1944 to Sigmaringen, as well as the Vichy government had been housed there.
  • Winfried Kretschmann (born 1948), politician, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg (The Greens), lives in the district of Laiz.

Notable people


  • Mauthner, Martin (2016). Otto Abetz and His Paris Acolytes: French Writers Who Flirted with Fascism, 1930–1945. Eastbourne, England: Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-84519-784-1. OCLC 987647015.


  1. "Bevölkerung nach Nationalität und Geschlecht am 31. Dezember 2018". Statistisches Landesamt Baden-Württemberg (in German). July 2019.
  2. name="Stadtporträt"
  3. Bericht in der Chronik des Kloster Petershausen: Von dort zog König Rudolf von Schwaben nach Burg Sigimaringin und belagerte sie. Als er aber erfuhr, dass König Heinrich IV. mit einem Heer über die Alpenpässe herannahte, um die Festung zu entsetzen, zog er ab und ging nach Sachsen.
  4. Ingrid Bauz, Sigrid Brueggemann, Roland Maier (eds.). The secret police in Württemberg and Hohenzollern. Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 3-89657-138-9, p 90ff.
  5. Thomas Stöckle, Grafeneck 1940. The euthanasia crimes in East Germany. 2nd Edition. Silberburg-Verlag, Tübingen 2005, ISBN 3-87407-507-9. Thomas Stöckle, head of Memorial in Grafeneck emphasizes that these are preliminary. Basis of the figures are statistical material from the Grafeneck process of 1949 and reports of the individual dispensing stations
  6. de:Verkehrsverbund Neckar-Alb-Donau
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