Hesse (Hessen) Historical Geography

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Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The present-day state of Hesse was founded on 19 September 1945 under the name of Groß-Hessen and was the first surviving state in the Federal Republic to receive a new democratic constitution. The immediate predecessor states were the People's State of Hesse and the Prussian provinces of Kurhessen and Nassau, which the Free State of Prussia had created on April 1, 1944 by division of the province of Hesse-Nassau. During the German Empire, the state Hesse consisted of:

  • the previously independent Hesse-Kassel,
  • the Duchy of Nassau, 

  • the Free City of Frankfurt, 

  • areas gained from the Kingdom of Bavaria, and 

  • part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (including part of the former Landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg),

Part of Hessen-Nassau (the former Westerwaldkreis) was also moved into the Rhineland-Palatinate. The Rheinhessen part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (Hessen) was also moved into the Rhineland-Palatinate.

Maps[edit | edit source]

German Empire Compoments of the Modern State of Hesse (Hessen)

1024px-Hessen 1900.svg.png
For a larger map, click here. Then click with the magnifying glass.

Kreise (Counties) of the Modern State of Hesse (Hessen)

893px-Hesse, administrative divisions - de - colored.svg.png

Germany was first unified as a nation in 1871. For German research prior to 1945, the Research Wiki, FamilySearch Catalog, and FamilySearch Historical Records are organized by the place names in use from 1871 to 1945. For research in that time period, use the Wiki links in the chart below:

1871 Region

History and Background

Geo-Political Differences Today
FamilySearch Catalog
(organized by 1871 Meyer's Gazetteer)
Wiki Page

Instructions for Research Before 1945


1945: Merged with Hessen-Nassau, Frankfurt am Main,and the Waldeck area (from Rheinland), to become current state of Hessen
It lost the Rheinhessen to Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate), and Bad Wimpfen to Baden-Württemberg.



1945: Merged with Hessen to become current state of Hessen (Map)

Preussen, Hessen-Nassau

Waldeck and Pyrmont

1929: Merged into Hesse-Nassau (Hessen-Nassau)
1946: Hessen-Nassau including Waldeck became part of the current state of Hesse. Pyrmont merged into current state of Lower Saxony