Ohrdruf was founded in 724-726 by Saint Boniface, as the site of the first monastery in Thuringia, dedicated to Saint Michael. In 777 Bishop Lullus consecrated St. Peter’s Church on the right bank of the River Ohra. Several more religious foundations in the town followed, the latest of which is the Carmelite monastery Karmel St. Elija (founded 1991)
Ohrdruf porcelin and toy manufacture
19th century leading manufacturers of porcelein, dolls and toys made Ohrdruf a centre of the toy industry. The Kewpie doll was produced here from 1913. You can still find some of the old molds included in the facades of Ohrdruf buildings.
The Ohrdruf death camp located here was the first Nazi concentration camp to be liberated by the American Army, on April 4, 1945. According to a book written by the German historian Rainer Karlsch and published in 2005, Ohrdruf may have been one of two locations where the Nazis tested their nuclear energy project, in the process killing prisoners of war under the supervision of the SS. This claim is not universally accepted. However, a nuclear reactor was under construction at Haigerloch, but never became functional.
Also near Ohrdruf the Nazis constructed at the end of World War II, with the help of slave labour, the S III Führer Headquarters, a massive underground complex of long tunnels. This was reputedly to have been a centre for a final stand against the Allies, after a retreat from Berlin. This plan did not come to fruition.
With the reunification of Germany, DDR archives came to light of witness accounts about the launch of a winged A-4 rocket on 16 March 1945 from a rocket sled device near Jonsthal Concentration Camp in the Ohrdruf complex. These archives identified four witnesses to the winged A-4 and one of the missile in flight at launch. These archives were later classified under US pressure.
Obrdruf.is the town in Thuringia where J.S. Bach lived from 1695 to 1700 (ages of 10 to 15). Ohrdruf was the capital of the small county of Gleichen. The local school was of some importance: pupils came not only from distant parts of Thuringia, but also from Hesse.
After the early death of his parents in 1695, the only 10-year-old J.S. Bach came to Ohrdruf and lived in the house of his 14 years elder brother Johann Christoph Bach  (1671-1721), who was organist at Michaeliskirche (St. Michael's Church) in Ohrdruf from 1690 (when he was only 18) to 1721. The church was built as an extension of the earlier Bonifatiuskapelle in 1421. Ohrdruf organists normally served also as teachers at the school, but, perhaps following the example of the Eisenach Kantor A.C. Dedekind (c1660-1706), Johann Christoph Bach tried to confine his duties to music. But he could not live that way (he earned only 40-50 florins a year), a fact which he grasped too late. In 1696 he was elected organist in Gotha, but the consistory at Ohrdruf refused his release and demanded his promise of lifelong service. It was only in 1700 that he took up the additional teaching duties. Probably J.S. Bach was influenced by these impressions in mapping out his own musical career as an organist (at a socially higher level).
In Ohrdruf J.S. Bach's musical career began and J.S. Bach's education was his brother duty. Johann Christoph Bach himself was a student of the renowned organist Johann Pachelbel in Erfurt. Johann Christoph Bach is said to have been J.S. Bach's first keyboard teacher - perhaps a quite authoritarian one. From his brother J.S. Bach learned to play also trumpet, viola and violin.
Together with his brother Johann Jacob Bach  (1682-1722) and his cousin Johann Ernst Bach  (1683-1739), J.S. Bach attended the Latin School, a highly looked on educational establishment at the time in the Dukedom of Saxony-Gotha, and sang in the school choir whose job it was to perform in the Ehrenstein Palace and "Kurrende" singing. As an anecdote reports, he must have been a pupil with a great thirst for knowledge: "The enthusiasm of our little Johann Sebastian for music was already immense at this tender age. Within a short time he had all the pieces which his bother had given him to learn voluntarily completely in the hand." Only one of the books with compositions by Johann Pachelbel and other famous composers was kept back from him by his brother.In the Obituary it is reported that J.S. Bach secretly fished it out at nights from the locked barred door with his small hands and copied it by the light of the moon. When J.S. Bach's the 'innocent deceit' was discovered, the copy was taken from him. Apparently, in the long run relations between the brothers were quite friendly. They stood godfather to each other's. children, and from Johann Christoph Bach's family two important musical sources survive (the Andreas Bach Book and the Möller manuscript), containing several of J.S. Bach's early keyboard works.
In 1697 a new Kantor was appointed, Elias Herda (1674-1728). He had studied theology at the University of Jena with great success and was a respected teacher at the school. His duties were not primarily musical, and in the services he was responsible only for the singing of chorales. Before his university studies he had attended the Michaelisschule in Lüneburg, where J.S. Bach went when he left Ohrdruf towards Easter 1700.
In March 1700 J.S. Bach suddenly quit school and travelled shortly before his 15th birthday to Lüneburg. The reason for J.S. Bach's departure is given in the school reports as 'ob defectum hospitiorum'. This might indicate that the top class of the school was overcrowded; a further six pupils were dismissed for the same reason in 1698-1700. It meant that J.S. Bach had lost his entitlement to attend the school at low (or no) cost, and might be explained by his change of voice (see: Lüneburg).
The home of the three Bach brothers fell victim to a large fire in 1753. At this time Johann Andreas Bach  (1713-1779) was organist at the Michaeliskirche. Further members of the family took over this office afterwards, such as Johann Christoph Georg Bach  (1747-1814) and Ernst Carl Gottfried Bach  (1738-1801).
The Michaeliskirche burnt down in 1753. Rebuilt by 1760, it was almost completely destroyed by a fire a scond time, and again rebuilt, early in the 19th century; finally an air raid in 1945 left only the tower standing. Because of thedestruction that took place in World War II, very less places of J.S. Bach's activity are preserved. Castle Ehrenstein still exists, in which J.S. Bach had a performance with the school-choir. Today one room of the castle is dedicated to J.S. Bach, where remains from his time in school can be visited.
Article by Konrad Küster in Malcolm Boyd (Editor): Oxford Composer Companion - J.S. Bach (Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 293, 332-333
BDok iii, no. 666
Konrad Küster: Der junge Bach (Stuttgart, 1996), pp. 62-81
H.-J. Schulze, 'Johann Chrislopil Bach (1671 bis 1721), "Organist und Schul CoIIega in Ohrdruf': Johann Sebastian Bachs erster Lehrer, BJb 71 (1985), pp. 55-81
Reisewege zu Bach - Travelling Ways to Bach (Michael Imhof Verlag, 2003), p. 102
Martin Petzoldt: Bachstäten Ein Reiseführer zu Johann Sebastian Bach (Insel Verlag, 2000)
Ohrdruf brochures from Bach Tours of Aryeh Oron (1999, 2004)