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The first people lived in Brandis around 3,400 years ago. They came here to bury their deceased relatives in grave mounds on the Kohlenberg hill. In 1121 Brandis church was first mentioned in writing in a deed of the Archbishop of Magdeburg for the Kloster Neuwerk monastery at Halle. Around 1170 the market settlement of Brandis was established in the vicinity of the church, adjacent to an older settlement.
A deed dating from 1191 mentions the knight Gozwinus de Brandez, an early member of the local aristocratic family. In 1243 the town was first mentioned as "town of Brandis" in written documents. The knights were to maintain control of Brandis until around 1350.
In 1476 the town had lower jurisdiction and its citizens had the right to brew beer. 1529 saw the Reformation arrive in Brandis, with Andreas Schmidt ordained as the first Protestant priest. In 1621 a beer war broke out between Brandis and Wolfshain, as Wolfshain was repeatedly serving beer from elsewhere, which was not permitted at that time. The Thirty Years' War initially left the town in peace, but in 1632 and 1637 mercenaries attacked the town and looted it.
In 1633 Brandis fell victim to the plague, with 325 deaths amongst the approximately 600 inhabitants. The major town fires of 1637, 1664, 1688 and 1696 destroyed nearly all of the buildings in the town. As a consequence of the catastrophic situation, Elector Augustus the Strong exempted the citizens from paying taxes for six years. The burned-down castle was rebuilt from 1696 according to plans by David Schatz. Markets, in particular the "ascension market" are recorded as taking place in Brandis from the end of the 17th century and enjoyed great popularity.
1834 saw the appointment of the first democratically-elected mayor and town council and the abolition of compulsory labour and burdens on small farmers, as well hereditary subservience. Lignite extraction commenced in 1849 with the opening of the Gottes Segen pit. In 1856 Brandis received a local court, which remained in place for 20 years. Economic growth was noticeably boosted with the arrival of the Beucha-Brandis-Seelingstädt railway line, inaugurated in 1898, with the addition of Trebsen in 1911. Brandis evolved from an agricultural town to an industrial-residential one. Numerous clubs and associations were formed, with the labour movement also finding many followers.
With the incorporation of Cämmerei (1929) and the establishment of the military airfield in Waldpolenz (from 1934) the number of inhabitants rose to 5,500. 1937 saw the beginning of construction of the reichsautobahn behind the Kohlenberg. Many inhabitants fell during the Second World War. In 1944 the rocket-powered Me 163 fighter and Ju 287 jet bomber were stationed and tested in Waldpolenz. On 17 April 1945 the citizens of Brandis surrendered the town to the Americans without resistance. In July 1945 the Red Army moved into Brandis and Beucha. Numerous companies and establishments were confiscated and nationalised. The silicate plant that was formed from the local brick making industry was to play a leading role in the economy of the town until 1989.
1990 marked the return of democratic municipal elections. Frank Mieszkalski became the new mayor. On 23 September 1990 a partnership agreement was signed between Brandis and the parish of Hohenhameln, in Lower Saxony. As of 1990 all key nationalised operations went into liquidation. Beginning in 1992, new companies located to the new business park between Beucha and Brandis.
1992 saw the incorporation of Polenz and the last CIS personnel left Waldpolenz on 30 June. In addition, Brandis began to grow in significance as a school location (1992 inauguration of the new primary school, 1995 independent grammar school, 2001 inauguration of the new secondary school, 2004 construction of a new multi-purpose hall). On 1 January 1999 Brandis and Beucha merged to form the new town of Brandis. The town currently numbers around 10,000 inhabitants.
From June 1999 until July 2013 Andreas Dietze was the mayor of Brandis. The market square was extensively remodelled and inaugurated in a ceremony on 3 October 2003. The extension of the primary school in 2006 and the secondary school extension in 2008 completed the construction of the school campus. In 2007 the volunteer fire service received a modern fire station.
On 23/04/2007 the foundation stone was laid for the construction of one of the world's largest solar parks on the former military site in Waldpolenz. The completion of the new town hall in 2008 marked the end of all current major construction projects of the town of Brandis. In addition to the pleasant, green surroundings of the town, it is also noteworthy for its superb infrastructure and proximity to Leipzig. This makes Brandis an attractive small town with a population of approximately 10,000 inhabitants.
On 1 August 2013 Arno Jesse became the new mayor of Brandis. The further development of Brandis as a modern, citizen and family-friendly town and attractive business location is the declared goal. In spite of a tight budget, investment is therefore currently being targeted at the development of new residential and commercial sites. In addition, the modernisation of administrative procedures is also on the agenda. In this respect, Brandis achieved a major success in autumn 2014: the town fought off the challenge of 21 competitors to be chosen "Innovation Municipality 2014-2016" by the state of Saxony. This project concerns the realisation of innovative projects, for which a budget totalling € 1 million is planned. This will involve numerous instruments of state modernisation being introduced or optimised and adopted for sustainable use. The intention here is to include cross-level administrative processes and improve the controllability of the innovation municipality, serve as a role model for other municipalities and define standards for the modernisation of state structures in direct interaction with municipal practice. The results will then be made available to other municipalities with the involvement of the innovation municipality.