From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Zittau was one of the six members of the Six-City League of Upper Lusatia. At that time the city was granted a special title - it was called "Die Reiche" ("the Rich") because of its high proportion of well-to-do citizens.
During the Counterreformation and after 1620 after the battle at Weisser Berg (White Mountain) a large number of Protestant refugees from Bohemia (böhmische Exulanten) came to Zittau, where the Protestant Saxon rulers took them in. Many of them went on and found refuge in surrounding villages, in Dresden and in Berlin in Brandenburg. Primarily due to near-complete destruction caused by the Seven Years' War the former prosperous era of the city is only reflected in few exceptional buildings and the cemeteries where the well-to-do were buried.
One of the most important trading goods of this early age in the 16th century was beer. Later in the 18th and 19th century textiles became important too, a tradition common in the region of Upper-Lusatia. During World War II, a labour camp was located in the city. It provided forced labour for Schoenmann Werke, an aircraft parts manufacturer.
After the reunification in 1990 most of the big textile firms that survived the time of the GDR almost without any changes and any further investment closed down in just a few years. The city lost most of its economical strength. In addition, lignite surface mining was discontinued on the outskirts of the city in the foothills of the Zittau Mountains, while it still goes on across the border in Poland. This, however, has saved parts of the city from certain destruction, which are still primarily now dormant military garrisons and schools. The city is also disadvantaged by the cheaper labour from neighbouring countries.