German-Danish War

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German-Danish /
Second Schleswig-Holstein War
Military events in the German-Danish War
Military events in the German-Danish War
date 1864
place Schleswig / Jutland
Casus Belli Joint November constitution for Schleswig and the Kingdom of Denmark
output Victory for Prussia and Austria
Territorial changes Schleswig , Holstein , and Lauenburg to the Empire of Austria and Prussia
Parties to the conflict

Prussia KingdomKingdom of Prussia Prussia Austria
Austrian EmpireEmpire of Austria 

DenmarkDenmark Denmark


Friedrich von Wrangel , Helmuth von Moltke

Christian Julius de Meza , Georg Daniel Gerlach

Troop strength
At the beginning of the war: 61,000
158 cannons.
Later reinforcements: 20,000
64 cannons

More than 100 cannons

~ 2200

~ 5600

The German-Danish War from February 1, 1864 to October 30, 1864 was a military conflict over the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, in particular over the national affiliation of the duchy of Schleswig . The war opponents were on the one hand Prussia and the Austrian Empire , on the other hand the entire Danish state . The war is considered to be the first of the three German Wars of Unification and, in contrast to the Schleswig-Holstein Uprising (1848–1851), is also referred to as the “Second Schleswig War” or “Second Schleswig-Holstein War”.

The Danish king was Duke of the Duchy of Schleswig , Duchy of Holstein and Duchy of Saxony-Lauenburg . Holstein and Lauenburg were also member states of the German Confederation . Schleswig, on the other hand, was a fiefdom of Denmark. Schleswig was linguistically and culturally influenced by German, Danish and Frisian. With the desire for the formation of unified nation states in the 19th century, it was claimed by both the German and the Danish national liberals, which led to the war from 1848 to 1851. After the previous general state constitution had been rejected by the German Confederation, among others, the Danish government issued the so-called November constitution in 1863 , which, contrary to the intention of the London Protocol, aimed to make Schleswig more constitutionally bound to the actual kingdom. As early as 1851, the language rescripts had been adopted, which were intended to stop the simultaneous language change to German in the central parts of Schleswig and met with strong resistance on the German side. In order to have the November constitution withdrawn, troops of the German Confederation occupied the states of Holstein and Lauenburg in December 1863 as part of the federal execution . In protest by the German Confederation, Prussian and Austrian troops crossed the river border with Schleswig on February 1, 1864, marking the beginning of the German-Danish War. With the occupation of Schleswig, Denmark was supposed to give in to withdraw the November constitution. From the very beginning, Prussia had intended to annex the so-called Elbe duchies .

The war ended after Prussia and Austria had conquered the rest of the Danish peninsula Jutland after Schleswig . In the Peace of Vienna , the Danish king transferred the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg to the two major German powers. They ruled the duchies until 1866 as a condominium . The dispute over the future of the Elbe duchies ultimately led to the German war between Austria and Prussia in the summer of 1866 . After the Prussian victory, all of Schleswig-Holstein belonged to Prussia as a province .


The withdrawal from the Danewerk
Siege of the ski jumps at Düppel , Jørgen Valentin Sonne , 1871
Storming the Düppeler Schanzen
The storming of Alsen by the Prussians , 1864

With the Schleswig-Holstein uprising from 1848 to 1851, the first German-Danish military conflict of modern times occurred. The Schleswig-Holstein movement opposed Denmark and called for Schleswig and Holstein to be merged within a German confederation. This was opposed by the Danish National Liberals, who demanded the unification of Schleswig with Denmark. Both movements corresponded in their demands for a constitution and liberal basic rights, but were deeply divided with regard to the national connection of Schleswig. Until then, the duchies of Schleswig (as a Danish fiefdom) and Holstein and Lauenburg (as member states of the German Confederation ) were linked to the Danish king in personal union and thus formed the entire Danish state . In terms of language and culture, Holstein and Lauenburg were influenced by (Low) German, while German and Danish as well as North Frisian were widespread in Schleswig, with parts of Schleswig changing language in favor of German in the 19th century.

After the failure of the uprising, the Danish crown initially retained sovereignty over the duchies. The London Protocol of 1852, which legally concluded the war, adhered to the state as a whole, but also stipulated that Schleswig should not be bound more closely to Denmark than Holstein. A nation-state solution favored by the German and Danish national liberals was therefore not possible. Instead, under pressure from the Allies, the multi-ethnic and paternalistic-conservative state was reintroduced. This led to the situation that in the actual Kingdom of Denmark with the Basic Law introduced in 1849 there was a parliamentary and constitutional-monarchist model, while in the duchies the assemblies of the estates , which only represented the upper class and only had advisory functions, resumed their work. Most of the civil servants appointed by the German government lost their office and income. In 1852, for example, the Danish Schleswig Minister Friedrich Ferdinand Tillisch withdrew his lawyer from Theodor Storm , whereupon he left the country. The Schleswig-Holstein paper money used since 1848 was declared worthless without compensation. On the other hand, the duchies were burdened with a large share of the costs of the war waged against them. While Denmark enjoyed almost unrestricted freedom of the press through a constitution, had full rights of association and assembly and guaranteed its citizens security against police arbitrariness through legal procedures, these rights were unknown in the duchies. The independent press was suppressed with severe penalties. German clubs and assemblies generally prohibited.

The general state constitution was introduced in 1855 as a common link between kingdom and duchies , according to which overarching political areas such as foreign and financial policy were to be dealt with by a joint Imperial Council . The individual territories of the state as a whole functioned as part of each other. However, the constitution met with criticism. Among other things, the Danish side complained that the Imperial Council was composed according to a privileged right to vote and thus represented a restriction of general democratic rights in relation to the Danish Basic Law. On the German side, among other things, the representation of the duchies in the Reichsrat was criticized, which led to the fact that the Holstein assembly of estates rejected the constitution and in 1858 it was repealed by the German Confederation for Holstein and Lauenburg. Since the German Federal Act of 1815 prescribed a state constitution for every member , Holstein, ruled by the Danish king in personal union, no longer complied with the federal order. Since the constitution now only existed for Denmark and Schleswig, it contradicted both its own intention as a state constitution and the provisions of the London Protocol.

In order to give the administration of the entire state the ability to act again, the Copenhagen government prepared a new constitutional order at the beginning of the 1860s, which should minimize the influence of the Holstein assembly of estates and at the same time bind Schleswig more closely to the kingdom. With the March patent of March 1863, the Danish King Frederick VII declared that a constitutional model should be created, which should consist of a personal union between Denmark and Schleswig on the one hand and Holstein and Lauenburg on the other. Accordingly, in September of the same year, the draft of the November constitution was published, which should only be valid in Denmark and Schleswig. However, the constitution conflicted with the provisions of the London Protocol and led to protests from the German national movement and the German Confederation . The Danish government, on the other hand, received support from the pan-Scandinavian- oriented Swedish King Charles XV. The German Confederation finally decided on October 1, 1863, the federal execution against Holstein and Lauenburg . The Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck succeeded in bringing Austria into the federal execution, so that Austria, Prussia, Saxony and Hanover were jointly commissioned to carry out the occupation of Holstein and Lauenburg . Despite the decided (but not yet carried out) federal execution, the November constitution was passed by the Danish parliament on October 13, 1863.

When Frederick VII. On 15. November 1863 before signing (and enforcement) of the November constitutional died, the new king was Christian IX. from the Glücksburg line faced a dilemma:

  • the signing would very likely lead to a German uprising in Schleswig and Holstein and to a war with Prussia and Austria
  • failure to sign it would be just as likely to lead to a revolution in Denmark; the liberal majority in parliament was ready to remove him from the throne in this case and, if necessary, replace the Scandinavian- oriented Swedish King Charles XV. to use

Christian finally signed the new constitution on November 18, 1863 - hoping that the war, which could not be won militarily, could turn out to be mild for the state through political intervention.

In contradiction to the London Protocol, after the death of King Friedrich, Prince Friedrich from the Augustenburg line had also claimed to have succeeded the throne in the duchies and proclaimed himself Duke as "Friedrich VIII". Since he referred to the very liberal constitution of 1848 in his proclamation, he found broad acceptance in public opinion.

The occupation of Lauenburg and Holstein by the armed forces was finally carried out on December 23, 1863. The administration of the two duchies was entrusted to two federal commissioners. In this part of the territory he claimed there were numerous homages to Frederick, who was also supported by most of the German medium-sized and small states, which did not see themselves bound by the London Protocol, which was never approved either by them or by the German Confederation. They saw the development as a good opportunity to strengthen their common counterweight against the two great powers Austria and Prussia by creating another sovereign (37th) German federal state. By these medium and small states on December 7, 1863 an application for "federal intervention" in Holstein-Lauenburg, d. H. on war against Denmark, which Prussia and Austria could only with difficulty (and at the end a majority of one vote) converted into a (repeated) decision on federal execution and thus into a legally regulated procedure.

International environment

At the beginning of the conflict, the Danish government counted on British and Russian support for strategic reasons: an increase in power in Prussia must have been unwelcome to both powers. In Great Britain there was also the unpopular prospect among the local population that a second of the five major European powers would gain direct access to the North Sea , in Russia the dynastic connection of the Tsar to the Danish royal family ( House of Oldenburg ). In general, they were concerned with the trade route from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea, which in their opinion should remain in Danish hands.

However, at this time Russia was busy suppressing the Polish uprising of 1863 and was dependent on the support of Prussia as agreed in the Alvensleben Convention . Great Britain, on the other hand, which had only a small amount of land forces, needed an alliance with a mainland power in order to intervene directly in the war. The British government therefore decided that it would only actively intervene in the conflict if France did so.

Napoleon III again, Prussia was not averse to the acquisition of Schleswig-Holstein, provided that France received compensation for it on the left bank of the Rhine , and therefore did not accept the British diplomatic offers. The pan-Scandinavian -oriented Swedish King Charles XV. agreed to support the Danish government, but could not prevail against the Swedish parliament.

Bismarck avoided a legally tenable way of interfering with foreign powers by insisting - against the loud protests of liberal and national forces - initially strictly on adherence to the London Protocol, contrary to public opinion, Christian IX's rights to rule. fully recognized and rejected all further steps. The German troops did not march into Schleswig at first, but stayed on the territory of the German Confederation.

The duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg before the German-Danish War



The Danish army, with a peacetime strength of 7,500 men, was based on the system of general conscription with authorized representatives. The mobilization took place as early as November 1863 , so that at the end of 1863 the federal execution troops in Holstein and Lauenburg faced around 12,000 Danish soldiers, spread across a wide area. After the start of the federal execution , these troops slowly withdrew without a fight to positions between Rendsburg and Schleswig and near the latter city. For the coming war, the Danish army was in a field army of three infantry - divisions and a cavalry -Division and artillery and infantry - reserves divided, together about 36,000 men with 104 guns, and replacement and garrison troops of about 18,000 men.

The combat value of the Danish land troops was low. Due to the poor peace-keeping strength, there was a lack of well-trained officers and NCOs. The infantry was with muzzle- equipped and the artillery was in the conversion to guns with rifled tube .

The Danish Navy was up to date: of the 31 existing steamships with 387 guns, 26 ships with 363 tubes were available at the start of the war, plus some sailing ships and rowing boats for coastal defense with a total of 80 guns.

The political leadership of Denmark had given the high command a practically insoluble double task: on the one hand, the Danewerk should be maintained by all means, on the other hand the army should at least be preserved in its core.

Prussia and Austria

Both powers mobilized only small parts of their land armies: Prussia around 35,000 men with 110 guns for the campaign, divided into an army corps and the Guards Infantry Division reinforced by cavalry , plus seven fortress artillery companies for coastal defense at home, Austria about 21,300 men with 48 guns, divided into four infantry and a cavalry brigade and three pioneer companies and a small artillery reserve. The Prussian troops were already equipped with fuse breech-loaders , and the refitting of the artillery was much more advanced than that of the Danish army. The Prussian and Austrian soldiers wore white armbands during the war in order to identify themselves as allies during the war. The armbands were meant to commemorate the common struggle against Napoleon in the Wars of Liberation .

The weak Prussian fleet of 23 steamers with 117 guns and 25 sailing and rowing vehicles with a total of 40 guns had to be limited to auxiliary and defense tasks. Only after the beginning of the war did Austria put a squadron of nine steamships with 246 guns into service and send them to the theater of war. However, because of the long journey, it was not expected to intervene before May.

Ultimate declaration of war

On January 14, 1864, Austria and Prussia declared in Frankfurt am Main that they would continue to pursue their policy towards Denmark without taking into account resolutions of the Bundestag. On January 16, 1864, both great powers Denmark issued a 48-hour ultimatum to repeal the November constitution and evacuate Schleswig. The said note was presented in Copenhagen by the ambassadors from Prussia, Hermann Ludwig von Balan , and from Austria, Adolph von Brenner-Felsach , to the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Christian Hall . Their conclusion was:

“Should the Danish government not comply with this request, the two German powers would be obliged to use the means at their disposal to establish the status quo and to secure the contractual rights of the Duchy of Schleswig. [...] The undersigned envoys of the two powers, who, although not formally accepted, act in this case on the special instructions of their government, have been instructed to repeal the constitution of November 18, BC. J. to demand, and if the declaration that the same has been made is not available to them in the course of the 18th d. M. approaches to leave Copenhagen. "

- Note dated January 16, 1864

The Danish government replied negative on January 18. Herr von Brenner left Copenhagen immediately, while the Prussian ambassador did not leave the capital until the last week of January. The basis of the Prussian-Austrian note was the alliance between Bismarck and the Austrian ambassador in Berlin, Alajos Károlyi, regarding a joint approach, the conditions of which are recorded in the minutes of January 16, 1864. Immediately after Denmark's rejection of their request, both powers undertook to take all military precautions, without the participation of the federal troops set up in Holstein, to exceed the Eider in a suitable strength that would make a breakthrough or circumvention of the Danewerk possible.

"In the case of the transfer of Schleswig, the two powers will not admit that demonstrations actually somehow anticipate the decision of the question of succession. The highest authority in Schleswig is exercised by the commander in chief of the troops, to whom commissioners are to be assigned for civil administration. The authority of the King of Denmark will be suspended, and the influence of the Danish authorities or demonstrations by part of the population will be tolerated, any more than attempts by the Augustenburg or the Democratic Party to call forth political demonstrations from outside or within the country itself. Prussia and Austria will respond to a proposal by the non-German powers, while maintaining the status quo in the duchies for the time being, to hold convergences on the German-Danish matter, provided that either the withdrawal of the constitution of November 18, 1863 or the transfer of Schleswig will have been done by Prussian and Austrian troops. In the event that hostilities arise in Schleswig and the contractual relationships between the German powers and Denmark become void, the courts of Prussia and Austria reserve the right to determine the future relationships of the duchies only by mutual agreement. In order to achieve this agreement, they would make the appropriate further agreements as the case arises. In any case, they will decide the question of succession in the duchies no differently than by mutual agreement. In the event of actual interference by other powers in the dispute between Germany and Denmark, further agreements are reserved. "

- Minutes of January 16, 1864

On January 22nd, the Prussian brigade under Philipp Carl von Canstein and the Austrian brigade consisting of four battalions (the Bohemian 18th Jäger Battalion and two battalions of Infantry Regiment No. 30 "Baron Martini") under the command of Leopold Gondrecourt broke away from the Execution troops of the German Confederation come out to unite with the Prussian-Austrian operational army streaming through Holstein and Friedrich von Wrangel . On the morning of January 31, Austria and Prussia declared the planned occupation of Schleswig to the other signatory powers of the London Protocol, the United Kingdom , France , Russia and Sweden , which then took place without any further declaration of war from February 1, 1864. The unauthorized action of the two German great powers led to protests by the German medium-sized states. Bavaria and Saxony prevented Austria from transporting troops through their territories, so they had to take place via Silesia, and the German Confederation repeatedly condemned the actions of the two German great powers as illegal . The federal troops in Holstein were also ready to oppose the Prussian and Austrian troops, but were rejected by the Bundestag. Simultaneously on January 31st, he sent his expected opponent Christian Julius de Meza to the Danish headquarters in Schleswig a request regarding the expected armed conflict. On February 1, 1864, the Allies crossed the Eider , the border river between Holstein and Schleswig.


After the federal execution in the Duchies of Holstein and Lauenburg and the evacuation, Danish guards stand at the bridge to the Eider in January 1864, in the background Rendsburg with Schleswig-Holstein flags from the church tower.

The first shots of the war were fired near the German federal fortress of Rendsburg an der Eider : After the ultimatum expired on the morning of February 1, 1864, Austrian and Prussian troops under Wrangel crossed the river that had been the border between Holstein and Holstein for a millennium without the consent of the Bundestag Schleswig marked.

The following day the Prussians tried unsuccessfully and with losses to cross the Schlei in the battle of Missunde . At the same time, the Austrians exceeded the concern and moved within ten kilometers of the Danewerk , where the Danes had holed up very well. At Ober-Selk , Jagel , on Königshügel and at Wedelspang , heavy fighting ensued on February 3, 1864, in which the Danes were pushed back into their entrenchments. 16 Austrian officers and 66 men were killed. In their honor, a memorial was erected on the King's Hill in autumn 1864.

The Austro-Prussian plan provided that the Austrians should attack the re-fortified Danewerk head-on, while the Prussians should cross the Schlei near Missunde, bypass and enclose the Danes from behind. After the crossing at Missunde failed, the Prussian Army finally crossed the Schlei on February 6 at Arnis . The Danes had prepared for the frontal attack here, but the position had not yet been fully developed, and the position was too extensive for the small number of Danish troops. Ice and snow hampered both armies. The Danish Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Christian Julius de Meza , had the Danewerk evacuated on February 6, 1864 in order to avoid the Prussian encirclement, and withdrew, leaving the heavy artillery behind, via Flensburg into the Düppeler Schanzen , one across from Sonderburg between Flensburg Fjord and Alsensund fortress, back. The abandonment of the Danewerk without a fight, which played a significant role in the Danish “national mythology” that emerged in the 19th century due to its long history, triggered a shock in Denmark and de Meza was replaced. His successor as commander in chief was ad interim of the artillery commander and former War Minister Lieutenant General Mathias of Lüttichau , finally then the former commander of the 1st Infantry Division, Lieutenant General George Daniel Gerlach .

However, the withdrawal saved most of the Danish army from annihilation. After a bloody rearguard battle with the Austrians at Oeversee, not far from Flensburg, the majority of the army withdrew to the island of Alsen , while the cavalry division, reinforced by an infantry regiment and small artillery, marched north to cover Jutland. Pursuit by the Allies was anyway difficult under the prevailing weather conditions, but it was delayed further by the disagreement on how to proceed: the previous agreements between Prussia and Austria only included the occupation of Schleswig. It was not until March 1 that the allies agreed that the main attack should be against Düppel , while weaker forces should occupy parts of Jutland. At the same time, both powers declared that they were ready at any time for an armistice on the basis of either the current mutual acquis or on the one hand the evacuation of Jutland and on the other hand the evacuation of Düppel-Alsen (as well as the release of some merchant ships confiscated by Denmark). Denmark refused.

The Austrians under General Ludwig von Gablenz finally marched north from Flensburg, while the Prussians slowly advanced eastwards towards Alsensund, where the Danish army had holed up at the gates of Sønderborg near Düppel. From this flank position, on the one hand, the Allies could be cut off in an advance to Jutland, on the other hand, a (albeit small) part of Schleswig remained in Danish hands, which the Danish position in the negotiations planned in London on the further fate of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg should improve.

On February 11th and 12th, the Prussian army corps under Prince Friedrich Karl von Prussia took up a position on the Sundewitt peninsula , six to eight kilometers from the entrenchments. On February 22nd, the reconnaissance of the Danish positions began the entrenchments could not only be conquered by field artillery. Prince Friedrich Karl wanted to forego storming the entrenchments and instead cross over to the island of Alsen with 20,000 men and thus enclose the Danish troops. However, the prerequisites for success were the unnoticed posting of some heavy batteries to ward off a possible counterattack by the Danish Navy, as well as calm and calm seas, since only rowing boats were available as means of translation. This plan ultimately failed, as a raging storm on April 2nd and 3rd thwarted the element of surprise and gave the Danish side enough time to prepare for a defense against the landing.

The siege and storming of the entrenchments, which had already been prepared in parallel, was increasingly resumed. Since April 7th, the entrenchments and their hinterland were fired at from 62 heavy artillery pieces, on April 8th another 20 heavy artillery pieces were added. The siege artillery, which included the most modern artillery of its time, was clearly superior to the Danish artillery, which had 175 heavy and 48 field artillery pieces, in terms of rate of fire and range. Gradually a network of trenches was dug - the first parallel at the end of March 900 meters, the semi-parallel on 7/8. April 650 meters, the second parallel on 10/11. April around 400 meters from the ski jumps. Since the opening of the London conference was delayed, the storm that was originally scheduled for April 14th could also be postponed. April a third parallel was drawn 250 to 300 meters in front of the entrenchments, which considerably reduced the distance to be covered by the enemy fire for the infantry.

At this point in time, the Danish troops in the entrenchments were already in a critical position: around half of their guns had been destroyed or damaged, around a third of the crew was lost due to death, injury or illness, and the crew quarters and the stockades of the entrenchments were considerable Part destroyed. When, therefore, strong Prussian artillery fire began on April 18 at four o'clock, some of the Danish forces were withdrawn from the fire area, so that the assault, which began as planned at ten o'clock, met with little resistance. Within a quarter of an hour the six entrenchments on the main attack front were taken, while the four northern entrenchments of the first line remained in Danish hands. Since the Danish High Command only received the news of the beginning of the storm when both the first and the second line of entrenchments had already been overrun, the delayed Danish counterattack also failed. Around noon the northern entrenchments, which had not yet been stormed, were cleared by the Danish troops, shortly afterwards the bridgehead directly opposite Sønderborg. The pontoon bridges between the city and the bridgehead were partly dismantled and partly destroyed. The artillery battles with the Danish batteries on Alsen continued until dark.

With the outcome of the battle, the war was basically decided, since the main Danish army was tied to Alsen and could no longer intervene in the battle for Jutland . In addition, the Danish losses of 4800 men were difficult to replace, while the Prussians could easily replace their losses of 1200 men. The Austrian troops besieged Fredericia fortress at the same time , which was eventually also abandoned by the Danish defenders. The Danish troops were evacuated across the sea to the islands of Fyn (16,000 men with 56 guns) and Alsen (10,000 men with 24 guns). In Jutland, 10,000 men with 24 guns remained north of the Limfjord .

Proposals for partitioning Schleswig in 1864

On May 9th, the sea ​​battle occurred off Heligoland , which ended with a tactical Danish victory, but could no longer turn the tide. On May 12th, after peace negotiations began in London, an armistice came into effect. At the initiative of Great Britain, possibilities for a diplomatic solution to the conflict were discussed. The negotiations soon concentrated on the division of Schleswig. The Prussian side proposed a division at the level of the Aabenraa - Tondern line, and the Danish side proposed a division at the level of the Danewerk. Compromise proposals by Great Britain and France to divide Schleswig at the level of the Schlei or along the line Gelting - Husum were not approved by the warring parties, so the war flared up again. Then Austria and Prussia made the Carlsbad Agreement on June 24th . The Prussian troops bombed the city of Sonderburg from Düppel. On June 29, they managed to cross the Alsensund near Sottrupskov and the Danish army withdrew to Funen. In a short time the entire island of Alsen was occupied.A further advance by Prussian troops reached the northern tip of Jutland after crossing the Limfjord after a short battle on July 11th , bringing the entire Danish mainland, a large part of the Danish kingdom itself, to the Prussian and Austrian troops was occupied. Now the Danish islands - Fyn in particular - were in danger, and the Danish government had to re-enter into ceasefire and peace negotiations, but now under much less favorable conditions. On July 18, 1864 at 3 a.m. the Prussian Lieutenant Colonel Gustav von Stiehle , equipped with a power of attorney from the Commander in Chief of the Allied Army Friedrich Karl Prince of Prussia, and the Danish Colonel Heinrich Kauffmann (Chief of the General Staff) signed the armistice between Prussia, Austria and Germany in Christiansfeld Denmark, which came into force on July 20, 1864 at 12 noon. On October 30, 1864, the war ended with the Peace of Vienna .


Map of territorial changes

Planning and Reality

As early as 1862, Moltke devised a campaign plan against Denmark as an exercise, which he later updated and carried out in detail. The basic line of the plan follows the basic line of Napoleon: the complete elimination of the opposing army. For this purpose, the Danish army had to retreat to the catchment position at Düppel, only three days' walk away. To this end, the Danewerk in the east at Missunde or Arnis was to be bypassed and the Danish army should be stabbed in the back at the Danewerk and this should be neutralized. If this does not succeed, the Danish army should at least make it impossible to reach the supply lines on the Baltic Sea coast and they should be placed on the North Sea coast and switched off. Wrangel was informed of this plan , but it was not carried out due to various inadequacies: So after the unsuccessful battle of Missunde and after the success of Ober-Selk , the siege was prepared. The transition at Arnis came too late. It was not possible to prevent the retreat - apart from a small rearguard battle at Oeversee - nor to cut off the Danish army from the Baltic coast. Furthermore, the plan of the General Staff Officer Leonhard von Blumenthal to cut off the retreat of the Danish army via the island of Alsen by an amphibious landing on the island was prevented by unfavorable weather on April 2nd and 3rd. So it finally came to the siege of Düppel, which should actually be avoided. It was also overlooked that the enemy was already preparing to withdraw from this long-term untenable position.

The occupation of Jutland was also completely uncoordinated between the Allies . Although one should have expected such an approach for military reasons, and this did not cause any surprise among Moltke and Wrangel either, one was surprised in the diplomatic circles in Berlin and Vienna.

Political changes

Initially, the two victorious powers took over the occupation and management as a condominium . In the Treaty of Gastein of August 14, 1865, Prussia was given sole administration of Schleswig , Austria sole administration of Holstein with continued joint ownership, while Prussia bought the Austrian rights to the duchy of Saxony-Lauenburg for 2.5 million thalers. Until its incorporation in 1876, Lauenburg remained a German state with a personal union with Prussia. As a result of the German War , Prussia annexed Schleswig and Holstein and in 1867 formed the province of Schleswig-Holstein .

As a result of the German-Danish War, around 200,000 Danish Schleswig came under Prussian sovereignty and the Danish area of ​​domination decreased significantly for the third time since the 17th century, as the duchies were no longer ruled from Copenhagen. Denmark had already had to cede its Skåne provinces ( Scania , Halland and Blekinge ) to Sweden in the Peace of Roskilde in 1658 , which made Copenhagen a border town. In the Treaty of Kiel on January 14, 1814, Denmark also had to cede Norway to Sweden (and received the Duchy of Lauenburg as compensation). The Kingdom of Denmark itself - since the duchies were only connected to it by personal union - remained unaffected in its scope, provided that the legal status of Schleswig as a Danish imperial fief is disregarded. The real kingdom was ultimately even enlarged through an exchange of territory with the Duchy of Schleswig. On the islands in particular, there were smaller territories with the royal enclaves , which under constitutional law did not belong to Schleswig but to Denmark; these have now been exchanged in order to achieve a homogeneous area. In order to maintain the integrity of his domain, the Danish King Christian IX. the Prussian King Wilhelm I to join the German Confederation with all of Denmark, but this was rejected.

The German-Danish War, like the civil war taking place in North America at the same time, showed some new elements of modern wars: The strategic importance of the railroad in the transport of Prussian troops, for example from Berlin , which would otherwise have taken weeks on foot, emerged. And for the first time in German military history played Krupp - guns , Krupp breech-loading guns with rifled barrels and Dreyses needle-guns a decisive role. Krupp cannons were able to wreak havoc on the Danish entrenchments across the Wenningbund, the bay in front of the Sonderburg. They were then used again in the war of 1870/71 against France outside Paris. The war against Denmark also had a significant impact on the creation of the German nation-state in 1871.

Cultural consequences and reception

In 1867 the Idstedt lion was brought to Berlin. In 1945 it was transferred to Denmark by the Allies and placed in Copenhagen. A copy is still on the Wannsee in Berlin. After years of discussion in the Flensburg City Council and in Denmark, it was put up again in a cemetery in Flensburg in 2011. The Hærulfstein , a rune stone found on Ochsenweg in North Schleswig, was also brought to Berlin after 1864 and erected there at the Dreilinden hunting lodge , but was returned to its original location in Denmark in 1951. The archaeological finds in the Flensburg collection played a major role in the peace negotiations , especially the Nydam ship found in North Schleswig . The Nydam ship was found in the Nydam moor near Sønderborg in 1863 and is now at Gottorf Castle in Schleswig, despite Danish claims for restitution after the two world wars . The remaining parts of the collection are now in the Archaeological State Museum at Gottorf Castle in the city of Schleswig and in the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen .

The war was accompanied artistically by the painters Wilhelm Camphausen , Georg Bleibtreu , Louis Braun and Emil Hünten . As a militant, Hünten was also involved in the acts of war himself. This war was accompanied by two photographers: Charles Junod (1828–1877) from Neuchâtel in Switzerland and Christian Friedrich Brandt (1823–1891), who was born in Schleswig . Junod accompanied the Austrian troops to Düppel, Brandt the Prussian troops.

In 1864 Johann Strauss composed the German Warrior March and the Fraternization March for the occasion . Gottfried Piefke composed the Düppeler Schanzen-March on site , which was also premiered there, and which - according to legend, however - he conducted with a sword after a cannonball had shot the baton out of his hand.

In November 1864, King Wilhelm I and Emperor Franz Joseph I donated the war memorial for 1864 . Wilhelm I donated the Düppeler Sturmkreuz for the soldiers involved in the storming of the Düppeler Schanzen .

Visitors to the Dybbøl Banke history center during a demonstration of historical defense weapons

In Germany, the war of 1864 has been largely forgotten outside of Schleswig-Holstein. However, it was the last full war that Denmark was involved in so far. In the history of Denmark it is regarded as the most important event of the 19th century, alongside the introduction of democracy and the Grundloven (Basic Law) in 1849.

The history center Dybbøl Banke (German history center Düppeler Anhöhe) is visited by numerous school classes. Every year there is a memorial day on April 18th on the hill of the Düppeler Schanzen, which mostly has only regional reputation, but was extended to the 150th anniversary in 2014 with the participation of Queen Margrethe II and Schleswig-Holstein's Prime Minister Torsten Albig . Representatives of the German Bundeswehr have also been taking part since 2001, which initially sparked a lively discussion.

On the 150th anniversary, Danish television broadcast a very elaborately produced historical drama in several parts, 1864 . With regard to its historicity , it was quite controversial. Among other things, the drama claims that the German Confederation attacked Denmark. In fact, Austria and Prussia were waging war, while the German Confederation condemned the actions of the two German great powers as unlawful. Other controversial topics of the drama were the portrayal of the Danish politicians at the time as unsuitable and the framework story that was to connect the events in 1864 with today's discussion of foreigners.

Some streets and squares remind of the war and the battle of Alsen. a. the Alsenstrasse in Bochum and Lünen .

See also



  • Rainer Hering u. a. (Ed.): 1864 - People Between Powers. 1864 - Mennesker mellem magterne. Hamburg University Press, Verlag der Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg Carl von Ossietzky, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 3-943423-24-7 .
  • Frank Jung: 1864. The war for Schleswig-Holstein. Ellert & Richter Verlag for Schleswig-Holsteinischer Zeitungsverlag, Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-8319-0566-9 .
  • Klaus Alberts: Düppel 1864. Schleswig-Holstein between Denmark and Prussia. Boyens Buchverlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-8042-1384-5 .
  • Lars Henningsen: Under Denmark. In Lars Henningsen (ed.): Between border conflict and border peace - the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein in the past and present. Verlag Dansk Centralbibliothek for Sydslesvig, Flensborg 2011, ISBN 978-87-89178-80-6 .
  • Tom Buk-Swienty : Slaughterhouse Düppel: April 18, 1864. The story of a battle. (Original title: Slagtebaenk Dybbøl , translated by Ulrich Sonnenberg). Osburg, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-940731-72-2 .
  • Winfried Vogel : Decision 1864, the battle near Düppel in the German-Danish War and its significance for the solution of the German question. Bernard & Graefe, Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-7637-5943-3 .
  • Jan Ganschow, Olaf Haselhorst, Maik without time: The German-Danish War 1864. Prehistory - course - consequences. Ares, Graz 2013, ISBN 978-3-902732-16-3 .
  • Jan Schlürmann : “A battlefield is visited”: The year 1864 and the national, regional and European dimension of remembrance / “En slagmark inspiceres”: Året 1864 og erpenringens national, regional and europæiske dimension. In: 1864 Mennesker i krigen / people in war. ed. from the Schleswig-Holstein State Library and Museum Sønderjylland / Museum Sønderborg Slot, Kiel / Sønderborg: 2014, pp. 7–11.
  • Manfred Jessen-Klingenberg : The war of 1864. In: Grenzfriedenshefte , 1989, No. 1, pp. 3-15 ISSN  1867-1853 , reprinted in this: Viewpoints on the recent history of Schleswig-Holstein. Schleswig-Holsteinischer Geschichtsverlag, Malente 1998, ISBN 3-933862-25-4 , pp. 99-108.
  • Gerd Stolz: Under the double-headed eagle for Schleswig-Holstein: published on the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the battles at Jagel, Oberselk, on Königshügel (February 3, 1864) and Oeversee / Sankelmark (February 6, 1864). Publishing group Husum, Husum 2004, ISBN 3-89876-150-9 .
  • Johs. Nielsen: The German-Danish War 1864. Tøjhusmuseet, Kobenhavn 1991, ISBN 87-89022-18-1 .
  • Jürgen Angelow : From Vienna to Königgrätz. The Security Policy of the German Confederation in European Equilibrium (1815–1866). (= Contributions to military history. Volume 52). Oldenbourg, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-486-56143-X .
  • John Christensen (among others): 1864: fra helstat til nationalstat. Emil, Fårevejle 1998, ISBN 87-89703-10-3 .
  • Diderik Johansen, Hardon Hansen: From the war 1864: experiences and observations. Padborg Boghandel, Padborg 2001, ISBN 87-983932-8-6 .
  • Michael Embree: Bismarck's first was. The campaign of Schleswig and Jutland 1864. Helion, Solihull 2007, ISBN 978-1-906033-03-3 .
  • August Trinius : History of the War against Denmark 1864, Rockstuhl 2011, ISBN 386777398X .
  • Hans Schultz Hansen: The Path to Disaster - The Prehistory of the German-Danish War in 1864 from a Danish perspective, Schleswig-Holsteinischer Geschichtsverlag, Malente 2014, pp. 11–26. ISBN 978-3-933862-48-8 .

Web links

Commons : German-Danish War  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: German-Danish War  - Sources and full texts


  1. ^ Heinrich von Sybel: The establishment of the German Empire by Wilhelm I .: Third volume, Salzwasser Verlag; Edition: 1 (July 14, 2012) ISBN 9783863828431 , p. 63.
  2. Göttrik Wewer (Ed.): Democracy in Schleswig-Holstein. Historical aspects and current issues . Springer, Berlin 1998, ISBN 978-3-8100-2028-4 , pp. 132 .
  3. Otto Büsch (Ed.): Handbuch der Prussischen Geschichte, Volume 2 . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-11-008322-1 , p. 336/337 .
  4. Jürgen Müller: The German Confederation 1815-1866 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-486-55028-3 , pp. 46 .
  5. Otto Büsch (Ed.): Handbuch der Prussischen Geschichte, Volume 2 . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-11-008322-1 , p. 337 .
  6. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 51/52 .
  7. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 52/53 .
  8. ^ Arnulf Scriba: The German-Danish War 1864. In: Lebendiges Museum Online . September 6, 2014, accessed February 27, 2019 .
  9. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 55 .
  10. Gerd Stolz: The German-Danish fateful year 1864. Husum 2010, ISBN 978-3-89876-499-5 , p. 45.
  11. August Trinitus: History of the War against Denmark 1864, p. 47
  12. ^ Wilhelm Müller: German Wars of Unification 1864-1871, pp. 27-28
  13. Gerd Stolz: The German-Danish fateful year 1864. Husum 2010, ISBN 978-3-89876-499-5 , p. 46.
  14. Jürgen Müller: The German Confederation 1815-1866 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-486-55028-3 , pp. 46-47 .
  15. ^ The Schleswig-Holstein question of 1864. in Lebendiges Museum Online, LeMO
  16. Jürgen Müller: The German Confederation 1815-1866 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-486-55028-3 , pp. 47 .
  17. Königshügel Memorial at
  18. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 60 .
  19. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 62 .
  20. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 64-66 .
  21. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 65-68 .
  22. Heinz Helmert, Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History . Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1984, ISBN 978-3-327-00222-3 , p. 68-71 .
  23. Heinz Helmert , Hans Jürgen Usczeck: Prussian German war from 1864 to 1871. Military History. Military Publishing House of the GDR, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-327-00222-3 , p. 77.
  24. ^ Power of attorney from the Commander in Chief of the Allied Army Friedrich Karl Prince of Prussia for Lieutenant Colonel von Stiehle to conclude an armistice requested by Denmark  in the German Digital Library , accessed on October 16, 2015.
  25. ^ Document of the Christiansfeld armistice between Prussia, Austria and Denmark  in the German Digital Library , accessed on October 12, 2015.
  26. ^ Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( Memento of March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  27. ^ Henning Brinckmann and Jens Aage Poulsen: Vejen mod Europe. Copenhagen 2009, p. 38.
  28. ^ : Danish author discovers private correspondence between the Danish King Christian IX. and the Prussian King Wilhelm I, in which he offers to join the German Confederation. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  29. Karsten Kjer Michaelsen: Politics bog om Danmarks oldtid. Copenhagen 2002, p. 138.
  30. Birte Gaethke: Photographs of the war 1864. In: Writings of the Schleswig-Holstein State Library. Volume 18, Heide / Holst. 1994. pp. 71-82, ( online , SUB Hamburg).