Carl Klinke

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Memorial Carl Klinke by Wilhelm Wandschneider in Berlin-Spandau

Carl Klinke (born June 15, 1840 in Bohsdorf-Vorwerk near Bohsdorf , Niederlausitz ; † April 18, 1864 near Düppel ) was a Prussian soldier ( pioneer ).

During the battle at the Düppeler Schanzen in the German-Danish War , Carl Klinke, loaded with a 30 pound powder sack, is said to have run against the Danish bulwark of Schanze II, a hole in the palisade wall and thus himself blown up. It is said that he called out: “Ick am Klinke. I'll open the gate. ”In retrospect, this attack was hyped up as decisive for the battle and thus the German-Danish War and Carl Klinke was revered as a hero and German Winkelried for many decades.

Childhood and youth

Carl Klinke was born in Bohsdorf- Vorwerk, the Vorwerk of a small heath village, as the son of the widowed Marie Klinke, nee. Nagork, and born to an unknown father and baptized six days later in Hornow Church. His baptismal name was "Carl", but later it was often spelled with "K". The ancestors of his mother's deceased husband, Mathey Klinke, had lived as cottagers in Bohsdorf for several generations . His mother married Johann Mettke in June 1843, who thus became his stepfather . The family lived in poor conditions and only owned about 10 acres of land.

On April 13, 1845, Carl started school at almost six years of age and, according to the entries in the school books, was sometimes quite wild in his first school years. Former school friends, who were questioned about him in 1914 before the 50th anniversary of the battle, describe him as employed, willing, hardworking and ready to serve.

Even though Carl has worked in agriculture since early childhood , the few fields were not enough to feed the family, and so after finishing elementary school he went to work in the nearby lignite mine "Felix" to contribute to the family support. At that time, lignite was still mined underground in Niederlausitz and not only in open-cast mining as it is today . As old people in his home village reported, Carl probably didn’t lack courage and, as a miner carpenter, he was always the first to put his life back on the scene when he did rescue work. The extent to which this assessment was later shaped by his later heroic myth can no longer be judged with certainty today.

Marriage and military service

At the age of twenty-one he married Marie Britze (born September 26, 1840), the only daughter of the "Ausgedinger" Britze from Sergen (today in Neuhausen / Spree), just a few weeks before the birth of their daughter Johanne Christiane on November 30th. The Klinkes lived in a small wooden house, which was later sold by Carl Klinkes widow when she moved away, and is now replaced by a small brick farmhouse in the Brandenburg region, on which a memorial plaque hung until the end of the Second World War .

Carl Klinke's height was given as five feet, six inches (1.73 m). At the general position in Spremberg in 1861 he was initially retired (possibly because of his role as the sole breadwinner and father-to-be) and designated as a substitute reserve . The chairman was still looking for a miner from the unfit, so that Klinke was dug out as a pioneer.

On October 27, 1861, Carl Klinke, who was “healthy in body and soul”, was called up to the 4th Company of Pioneer Battalion No. 3 von Rauch (1st Brandenburgisches) in Torgau , but was at least allowed to come home for his daughter's baptism at Christmas.

On October 4, 1863, Carl Klinke returned to his home village after two years of service, but had to return immediately on December 21, as Prussia was mobilizing . His engineer battalion was meanwhile in Spandau . At this point his wife was pregnant again, and when she gave birth to a girl again on July 29, 1864, her husband was already the fallen hero of Düppel.

The first weeks of the war

During the German-Danish War, Prussian troops were transported to the parade rooms for the first time by rail , probably also Carl Klinkes Pioneer Battalion No. 3, which was relocated to Holstein. Commander-in-chief of the Prussian and Austrian troops of the German Confederation was the then eighty-year-old Prussian Field Marshal Friedrich Heinrich Ernst Freiherr von Wrangel . The 1st Army Corps, to which Klinke's battalion also belonged, was led by the cavalry general Friedrich Karl Nikolaus von Prussia .

On February 1st at seven o'clock the first corps was to begin the advance on Missunde and break a breach in the heavily fortified defense line, the Danewerk , in order to bypass the Danish troops and with the Austrians advancing towards the fortifications from Rendsburg to take the pliers. This was the first time that the 4th Company of the Engineer Battalion had a task, because when the 11th Brigade had advanced to the Ornumer Mühle fighting, they found the bridge there broken.

Under the command of Lieutenant Seling, it was rebuilt within half an hour. It can be assumed that Carl Klinke was involved, as some of his superiors, such as Sergeant Fischer, Sergeant Mendel and Sergeant Lademann, received medals for it. Lieutenant Seling received the Order of the Red Eagle IV class with swords, the rest the Military Medal of Honor II class.

The storm on Missunde on February 2nd did not lead to immediate success, and Prince Friedrich Karl had the attack stopped to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. The breakthrough succeeded on February 6 at Arnis , where the Prussian troops managed to build a bridge over the Schlei and so they could get into the rear of the enemy. The Pioneer Battalion No. 3 von Rauch also played a major role in building this bridge by means of an 800-foot (250 m) long pontoon bridge .

Preparations for storming the Düppeler Schanzen

The Düppeler Schanzen (Danish: Dybbøl Banker) secured the bridgehead at the transition to the island of Alsen and the city of Sønderborg . The Sundewitt peninsula rises gradually to the west and reaches the highest point at the Düppeler Mühle (68 m) and falls again to Alsensund . The fortress consisted of ten entrenchments, starting in the south at Wenningbund (part of the Flensburg Fjord) with entrenchment I and ending with entrenchment X before the descent to Alsensund.

Replica of the ski jumping facility in the "1864" museum in Dybbøl

Seven jumps were spatially closed all around, in these there was also at least one log house. Three smaller ones were open. The Danish soldiers had removed all houses, bumps and possible cover in front of the entrenchments and thus created a clear field of fire. The entrenchments had “... earth-built walls approximately 20 feet (6.30 m) high, the trenches 12 feet (3.80 m) deep and 20 feet wide; the throats are usually closed by palisades. There are several batteries armed with the heaviest artillery between the individual entrenchments. "

The pioneers and soldiers of the Prussian troops had worked their way up to 200 m to the Danish positions by digging trenches, so-called "parallels", in weeks of digging work, mostly carried out at night, mostly standing up to their knees in the muddy clay. Work began on March 29 with the creation of the first parallel, followed by the construction of another, later called “semi-parallel”, on the night of April 7th and 8th.

The second parallel was made on the night of April 10th to 11th by Captain Daun with three officers and 106 men from 4th Company of Pioneer Battalion No. 3 and 16 officers and 510 men from 2nd Battalion of Infantry Regiment No. 24 bis built six in the morning. There was heavy fog, which certainly favored the project, but there were also outpost skirmishes. Carl Klinke was probably there and received his baptism of fire. Two Danish companies advanced from Schanze II at around 5 a.m. against the parallel under construction. The pioneers and soldiers deployed to excavate the parallel also took part in the firefight. The opposing troops were successfully repulsed, and on April 13 the trench had a bottom width of 6 m.

On the recommendation of the king, a third parallel was then created, so that the preparatory work for the storm was completed on the night of April 15 with the completion of this third parallel. Now the right wing of the Prussians was 300 m away from Schanze II and the left 220 m away from Schanze V. Originally the storm was planned for the 14th, but now April 18th, 1864 was determined for the attack by Prince Friedrich Karl.

The storm on the hill II

On April 18, at four o'clock, fire from 102 Prussian guns began. The preparations were not hidden from the Danes; Their troops had moved into defensive positions that night. But with the continuing barrage the infantry crews and the reserves of the entrenchments returned to their rear positions. Only the infantry in the trenches and the artillery crews of the front line remained in their places.

At 10 o'clock sharp, the artillery fire ceased and the six assault columns pushed forward, first in silence, then with a loud “ hurray ”, accompanied by the sounds of Yorck's march . The music corps of regiments No. 8, 18, 35 and 60, a total of 300 musicians, had been set up under the direction of the music director Gottfried Piefke in the second parallel and played marching music for the battle. This use of music to support the troops and increase morale was still a common measure at the time, but was used for the last time in major battles in the German War in 1866.

At 10.06 a.m. the jumps VI, III, V and I had already stormed and the black and white flags of Prussia were waving on their parapets. The fight for Schanze II was one of the bitterest of the day. On the Danish side, Lieutenant Ancker (Fontane says: "Anchor"), who was described by many as a heroic defender, was able to call in his infantrymen, and his guns kept firing. A devastating grape and rifle fire fell on the attackers, who quickly ran the 400 m to the hill in the shooting line .

Captain von Spies and his soldiers managed to penetrate the right side of Schanze II and run through it towards the second line. Shortly afterwards, the Danes picked up the weapons they had thrown away on the first rush, begging for pardon. Together with the crew, which remained untouched by the passage, they fired at the advancing engineer and assault companies. This also included the 4th Company of Pioneer Battalion 3 under Captain Daun and thus Carl Klinke, who was deployed on the platoon of the Second Lieutenant Diener.

Under the protection of his own fire, Diener climbed into the trench with some pioneers, had a sack of powder placed on the intact palisade wall and blasted an opening. During this action, the pioneer latch was badly burned and hit by a shot. Pioneers widened the opening and the storm troops pushed through, so that 10 minutes after the start of the storm, Schanze II was also taken. The losses of the pioneers here were 5 dead, 3 seriously wounded (one of whom died the next day) and 2 slightly wounded.

A hero legend emerges

When exactly the legend of the sacrificial death of the pioneer Klinke came about cannot be determined today. In any case, Theodor Fontane with his poem “Der Tag von Düppel”, written on May 5th, 1864, published in 1866, played a very large part in the image that the next 80 years in public and in school books of the battle for the Düppeler Schanzen was drawn. With regard to the figure of Klinke, "the historical inaccuracy has long been proven".

Fontane, who was at the site of the Düppeler Battle in May and September as a "war correspondent", then describes in his book Der Schleswig-Holsteinsche Krieg in 1864 , which was first published in 1866 by the publishing house of the Royal Secret Ober-Hofbuchdruckerei [R. v. Decker] appeared, although the events were not so glorifying:

“When the workers' company and the two assault companies were approaching, they found the parapet again occupied by the enemy, who greeted the attacking with quick volleys. The foremost of ours threw themselves down and opened rapid fire on the defenders of the redoubt. Under the protection of this fire, Lieutenant Engineer Diener and some pioneers descended into the trench, had a sack of powder placed on the pallisade wall, which prevented the advance, and had an opening blown into it. The pioneer Klinke, who put on the powder sack, burned the explosion in such a way that some time after the deed, lying near the blown gap, he gave up his ghost. "

In the further course of the text, when Fontane writes about the capture of Lieutenant Ancker, suddenly there is talk of a “sacrificial death” Klinkes and one page further Fontane writes: “As about the capture of Anker, opinions differ about the victim 's death . 'When approaching the hill, according to a long report, it was not possible for the pioneers to catch up tightly, as the Second Lieutenant Diener had recommended to his men, since some of the people were able to provide the means to remove the obstacles Equipment was encumbered, could not keep up with the rest and, moreover, many of the foremost were put out of action right from the start. So it happened that the moment the Lieutenant Diener reached the edge of the ditch, only NCO Lademann, Private Siedschlag with an ax, Pioneer Kitto with a powder sack, and Pioneer Klinke with a fuse were available immediately. Since the lieutenant servant found the trench pallet almost completely intact and its removal with the ax could not be started as quickly as the moment required, he decided, in the absence of other means, to use a powder explosion immediately . Pioneer Kitto, on the officer's orders, set the powder sack close to the edge of the trench, clasped it in both hands, and threw it at the foot of the pallisade close to the Contre-Escarpe as soon as the fuse had been fired by the fuse on the handle in the ditch. However, before the employees here had time to lie down flat on the ground according to the instructions given to them, the explosion occurred, through which 4 palisades were bent over to the hill, the pioneer latch on the left and Lieutenant Diener on the right were thrown into the ditch. The latter, with his hand burnt and otherwise unharmed, immediately climbed the parapet through the opening that had been made, which was expanded without difficulty by the other men who had arrived in the meantime. After taking the hill, the Lieutenant Diener returned to the Contre-Escarpe and found the pioneer Klinke there, badly burned in the face and with a bullet wound in his arm and chest , still alive. The same person had received this wound while climbing out of the trench, as he told the lieutenant himself. He died soon on the transport to the Lazareth . ”So much for Theodor Fontane.

Official reports

In the report “The German-Danish War 1864” published by the Great General Staff in Berlin in 1887 , it says about the battle for Schanze II: “Under the protection of the fire of the fusiliers, pioneers blasted a gap in the palisades. Through this, Premier-Lieutenant Saß-Jaworski penetrated the southern part of the plant with a platoon of the Schützen-Company. ”In the first sentence of the report of the General Staff, the asterisk stands for a footnote in which it then says:“ Unterofficier Lademann von den Pioneers lit the grenade detonator of the 30-pound powder sack. Pioneer Kitto threw the latter from the glacis at the foot of the palisade. Two palisades were overturned by the immediate demolition. Pioneer Klinke, who was already on the palisade wall, was badly burned and then fatally hit by a bullet while climbing out of the trench. ”The deed, much vaunted since the days of the Schanzensturm, coagulates here into a footnote.

In the “History of the Brandenburg Pioneer Battalion No. 3” from 1888, it remains with Klinke, but the description suggests a mishap: “The pioneer Klinke, who, in the absence of the fuse, lost while running quickly, uses a match to remove the powder sack ignited, the explosion burned in such a way that a short time afterwards, moreover, also hit by a bullet in the chest, he breathed his life lying near the blown gap. "

The official accounts do not know anything about a sacrificial death of Carl Klinke, only in the Fontane poem and in the countless newspaper articles that appeared later did he sacrifice himself, thus making the storm of his comrades possible.

Wilhelm Kitto, the "unknown hero"

The pioneer William Kitto (from Cantdorf in Spremberg ) reported former clergyman Mörbe from Spremberg: "I was with the pioneering pawl from Hornow in Spremberg, he belonged to the 4th Company of the 3rd Brandenburg Engineer Battalion, we each got a crowbar to to break through the palisades. Lieutenant Diener said: 'Whoever wants to come along voluntarily, with the powder sack to blow up the stockade, step out!' I stepped out and said: 'Lieutenant, I'm going with you!' I took the powder sack, which contained about 30 to 35 powder, and followed Lieutenant Diener, Sergeant Lademann and Sergeant Klucko. Arrived about 18 to 19 paces from the stockade of Schanze II, I put the powder sack on the ground. Now it was up to God to win or die for the king and fatherland. Since the fuse was no good, the powder sack was burned by Sergeant Lademann with his burning cigar. I quickly grabbed the sack, stormed the palisades of Schanze II and threw the sack into it, which immediately exploded; As I stood still, nothing more happened to me than the ignition of the powder that burned my mount ... "

Klinke is only mentioned here in passing, and even if Kitto's description of the selection of volunteers at the speed at which the Schanzensturm took place appears very dubious, the rest of the description agrees with the official descriptions and increases the likelihood of an accident Ignition of the powder bag without a time-delay fuse to a considerable extent.

Theodor Fontane's role in "hero education"

It is quite possible that Fontane could not resist the play on words with the name Klinke and created the hero Klinke with his line of verse: "Somebody jumps forward from astern: My name is Klinke, I will open the gate!" Later Fontane was no longer enthusiastic about his patriotic verses, and even from today's perspective, “The Day of Düppel” is not one of the best works by the poet. In the book already mentioned, two years later he described the events much more soberly and by no means without a doubt, but his memorable description in verse had long since spread.

With Klinke there was a hero from the people for the first time, before the emperors, kings and military leaders had always been the heroes of the battles. Identification was possible with Klinke, the simple pioneer, miner carpenter from Lusatia, housekeeper from poor backgrounds, which is why he was admired. The story was popular and told in different versions and resembled the myth of the unknown soldier .

A number of questions remain: Why do reputable military sources come up with different accounts? Why is Klinke in almost all known newspaper articles who threw the powder sack; so even 50 years later? Why didn't Kitto and especially Lademann, who rose to the rank of general and who could make himself heard, not protest against the report in their own battalion history? Lademann, Kitto and Klinke are together right in front of the palisade, Klinke falls and becomes a hero, although something else is noted in the military reports - a contradiction that can probably never be resolved.

However, a hero Carl Klinke fitted into the time of the Wars of Unification , and the military leadership also liked a victim story. In the case of Klinke, King Wilhelm then judged : “One must not rob the people of their heroes!” Fontane speaks a Solomonic word in the “Schleswig-Holstein War” (p. 204): “Whatever reading may be the right one, the people will Neither can you take away your 'latch' or your ' Froben '. With the historical elucidation - which is already extremely unfortunate and often misses even more than poetry - the needs of the people are not always best served. "

In the “Stechlin”, Fontane Schulze Kluckhuhn lets the Countess philosophize even more on the subject of the “hero”: “Yes, the losses were great, that's right. But losses, Countess, that's actually nothing. Of course, whoever it hits, it's something for him. But now I mean what is called the moral; that is what matters, not the losses, not much or little. When someone climbs up an embankment and now he stands up and sneaks up, always with a powder sack and a detonator in hand, and now he puts it on, and now everything is blown up and he goes with it. And now the fortress or the hill is open. Yes, Countess, that's something. And that's what our pioneer Klinke did. That was moral. I don't know whether the Countess has ever heard of him, but that's why I live and die; always just the little things, that shows what one can do. If a battalion has to answer and I'm in the middle of it, yes, what do I want to do? I have to go with. And flabbergasted, there I am. And now I'm a hero. But actually I'm not. It's all just a 'must', and there are many such must-have heroes. This is what I call the great wars. Handle with his powder sack, yes, it was just something small, but it was big. "

The monuments

Six monuments have been erected after Klinke was declared a hero. The best preserved one is in its former garrison town Berlin-Spandau (picture at the beginning of the article). Created by Prof. Wilhelm Wandschneider , a pupil of Reinhold Begas ' and Fritz Schapers , in 1908, it depicts Klinke at the moment of a fatal wound. Wandschneider is said to have designed the facial features after Klinke's daughter, a Ms. Kuller from Döbern, as they were hers Father is said to have looked very similar and there was no picture of her father.

The Düppel monument on the highest point of the site next to the mill, where Schanze IV used to be, was blown up by strangers in the spring of 1945. It showed Gothic spiers (design by the Berlin architect Heinrich Strack), four statues and large-format reliefs on the base. The figure of the pioneer statue should represent Carl Klinke. The figure's head and a relief from the base are said to be the only remaining parts of the monument. In the photo, to the left of the head, you can see a small drawing that shows the whole still image. These exhibits can be viewed in the Museum of the Düppeler Mühle, which also shows a number of exhibits from the time of the German-Danish War.

At the Broacker cemetery , Carl Klinke's body is in a shared grave with eight of his comrades, which suggests that it was not given any special significance when he died. The grave site is adorned with a simple, cast-iron grave cross, the first and last names of all those who fell are recorded, Klinke's first name was spelled correctly with "C". Next to the grave cross, only separated from the grave by a sturdy tree, stands a large granite stone with a carved inscription, which is supposed to commemorate the "pioneer Karl (!) Klinke" and his comrades who fell with him. It was dedicated to them “... by the Pioneer Battalion of Rauch 1st Brandenburg No. 3. "

The fact that he is buried there suggests that he only died while being transported from the battlefield or in the hospital, otherwise he would have been buried at Schanze II, as has happened in other cases. For example, near the memorial stone for Klinke on Schanze II, a boulder indicates that Lieutenant Caschiold is buried here. The inscription reads "In memory of the Royal Prussian Pioneers who fell on April 18, 1864 - this is where the pioneer latch fell." After the Second World War, the plaque was torn from the concrete and smashed in two. The former chairman of the Association of North Schleswig-Holstein , Gerhard Schmidt, who died in 2007 , found the destroyed tablet and hid it in his parents' attic. The original is now in the "House for History and Culture North Schleswig" (now the German Museum North Schleswig ) in Sønderborg.

In Bohsdorf-Vorwerk, on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Düppel in 1914, an impressive monument was inaugurated, but it was demolished in the 1950s as the road was rebuilt and the road was widened. It was exactly on the corner where the street branches off to the right in the direction of Hornow, about 50 m in front of the house that was built on the site of Klinke's birthplace. Today there is no prominent point at the point, only the roadside and the road itself.

On the gable of the house, which stands on the site of the demolished birth house, a white marble plaque was attached with the inscription: “This is where the pioneer Carl Klinke was born on June 15, 1840. He died a heroic death in front of Düppel on April 18, 1864. “In the upper corners you can see typical pioneer equipment: on the left crossed ax and spade, on the right side rifle and pickaxe. Below the text: spiked hat , crossed mortars and petards . The manor owner of Bohsdorf, R. Heinze, had commissioned them from the sculptor Barheine in Berlin. In contrast to the memorial opposite, this plaque survived the GDR era. It was kept in an attic and reassembled in the 1990s.

In the excellently restored baptistery of Carl Klinkes in Hornow there is still a plaque to the left of the altar with the text:

"Karl /
Klinke /
born. June 15, 1840 /
to Bohsdorf /
pioneer in the 3rd battalion /
found hero's death /
during the storming of Schanze /
II before Düppel /
April 18, 1864 /
A good soldier /
Faithful to death /
God and his king. /
---------------------- /
The Royal. II Cavalry Brigade "

Since the church had already fallen into disrepair in the 1950s and was later blocked by the building authorities, apparently no one paid attention to the memorial plaque, which is also very solid and well anchored. In the mid-1980s, the members of the Hornow parish began using their own modest means to secure and restore the church. After the fall of the Wall, the church, including the memorial plaque for Carl Klinke (on which he was once again written with "K" in his first name), was restored.

Overall presentation

Werner Bader's book Pionier Klinke - Tat und Legende (1992) traces the construction of the latch myth in detail .


  • Werner Bader: Pioneer handle - action and legend. Bad Münstereifel, Berlin / Bonn 1992
  • Horst Bosetzky: Powder Sack and Hero's Death: The Pioneer Klinke. In: The same: Murder and manslaughter at Fontane. Berlin 1998, p. 232 ff.


  1. The day of Düppel . In: Theodor Fontane: Complete Works . Vol. 1-25, Volume 20, Munich 1959-1975, pp 228-230. On:
  2. ^ Theodor Fontane: Poems . Ed. V. Joachim Krueger / Anita Golz. Vol. I: Poems (Collection 1898). Poems removed from the collections. 2., through u. exp. Berlin 1995 edition (Great Brandenburger Edition), p. 563.
  3. See “Düppel”. In: Fontane Lexicon. Names - substances - contemporary history . Ed. V. Helmuth Nürnberger / Dietmar Storch. Munich 2007, p. 110 f.
  4. Hans-Heinrich Reuter: Fontane , Vol. 1, Berlin (GDR) 1968, p. 398; see. also Johannes Kunstmann: “Musthelden” Theodor Fontanes. Klinke (Klinka) and Kitto. In: Fontane Blätter , Vol. 3 (1974), H. 2 (H. 18 of the complete series), pp. 134-140.
  5. ^ Theodor Fontane: "The Schleswig-Holstein War in 1864" Reprint of the first edition in Berlin 1866 (Verlag der Königliche Wissensen Ober-Hofbuchdruckerei) by Eugen Diedrichs Verlag, Düsseldorf Cologne 1978

Web links

Commons : Carl Klinke  - collection of images, videos and audio files