Dessau, city (1994 pop. 93,290), Saxony-Anhalt, E Germany, at the confluence of the Elbe and Mulde rivers. It is an industrial city, river port, and rail and road transport center. Before World War II it was the site of a large aircraft factory. Present industries include a shipyard, armaments, and vehicle, machinery, and chemical works. Dessau was first known as a German settlement in 1213. In 1603 it became the residence of the line of Anhalt-Dessau. From 1925 to 1932 it was the seat of the Bauhaus art school, headed by Walter Gropius and widely regarded as the most significant art school in the 20th cent.; the school was converted into a museum in 1977. The city was severely damaged in World War II. The Marienkirche in Dessau, a 16th-century church, has an altarpiece by Lucas Cranach, the younger. The philosopher Moses Mendelssohn was born (1729) in Dessau.