Koblenz Fortress

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Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, view from Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer
Fort Constantine
Fort Asterstein
Celebrations of Emperor Franz
Map of Koblenz from 1888
The "Mainzer Tor" of the Prussian city fortifications around 1880
Demolition of the soldering gate in 1899

The fortress Koblenz or more precisely fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein is a system of Prussian fortifications, consisting of the city fortifications of Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein as well as their upstream fortifications in the form of festivals , fleschen , entrenchments and forts . The entire complex was built between 1815 and 1834. The individual works of the fortress are either largely preserved ( Ehrenbreitstein Fortress , Grand Duke Konstantin Fort ) or have almost completely disappeared over time due to razing and later demolition (e.g. Emperor Alexander's feasts ). It is the first representative of the typology of large fortresses of the 19th century. Due to its architecture, it is classified as "classicistic" , with the fortifications on the left bank of the Rhine, for example. B. borrowings from the formal language of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance can also be found.


The Koblenz Fortress was divided into six sections, for which the term “system” became established from 1865 onwards. The main work of a section was given the name "Feste" to emphasize it. The fortress systems included the following fortress structures:

City fortifications

The city ​​fortifications of Koblenz were in the area of ​​today's Friedrich-Ebert- und Moselring. The Moselle Gate at the Balduin Bridge , the Löhr Gate and the Mainzer Gate were representative gate structures . In addition, there were other smaller gates along both river banks, the simple Weißertor (for example in the area of ​​the current pension office of the city of Koblenz) and the only preserved gate at the connection to the Rhine . The banks of the Rhine and the Moselle were secured by a wall with gun and artillery slots, a battery at the Deutschherrenhaus and one on the banks of the Rhine (known as the Rhine Cavalier). On the land side there was a ditch as an obstacle to the approach in front of a free-standing crenellated wall with an earth wall behind. The Moselweißer Schanze (former name: Fort Blücher) is also included in the fortification of the city . Of the bank fortifications, the north wing and a few casemates of the south wing of the Rheinkasemattenkorps at Weindorf, the Rhine bank fortifications at the castle , parts of the Rheinkavalier and remains of the crenellated wall at the Kastorkirche, the casemates at the Deutsches Eck and a wall on the banks of the Moselle below the Saarplatz have been preserved. The land-side fortification has completely disappeared apart from the remains of a casemate behind the police headquarters. The remains of the bridge towers on the Moselle railway bridge and the Pfaffendorfer bridge are also included .

Oberehrenbreitstein system

Two fortress systems were created in Ehrenbreitstein : the Niederehrenbreitstein system and the Oberehrenbreitstein system. The latter included the Ehrenbreitstein fortress, the Nöllenkopf works (from 1880 Fort Rheineck ) and Pleitenberg .

System Niederehrenbreitstein

The Niederehrenbreitstein system included: Northern hornworks with Neuwieder Tor, Kronwerk , bank batteries, southern hornworks, a defensible wagon house (Pfaffendorfer Tor), the Klausenberg plant , the Ehrenbreitstein fortifications , the Arzheimer Schanze and the Horchheimer gate fortifications .

System festivals Emperor Alexander

The Karthaus plateau above Koblenz secured the fortress of Emperor Alexander and the rear of the Fort Grand Duke Constantine on the Beatusberg. These facilities were supported by the Moselle battery , the Hübeling battery (today located in the main cemetery ) and the Grand Duke Alexander ski jump .

System festivals Kaiser Franz

In the north of Koblenz the fortress of Kaiser Franz was founded . The Neuendorfer Flesche , the Bubenheimer Flesche and the Moselflesche as well as the Metternicher Schanze , the Rübenacher Schanze and the Rheinschanze formed upstream defenses of these fortresses.

System Pfaffendorfer Höhe

Fort Asterstein , located on the Pfaffendorfer Höhe, was initially a preliminary work of the Ehrenbreitstein, which later became the main work of its own system. This section included the Bienhornschanze , Fort Rheinhell and the Glockenberg plant , which was connected to the Horchheimer Tor via the so-called Teufelstreppe .


Due to the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15, the Rhenish properties of the Trier electoral state were transferred to the Kingdom of Prussia as part of the Rhine Province . On March 11, 1815, the "Order to re-fortify the city of Coblenz and the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress " was issued by King Friedrich Wilhelm III. In the following years the Koblenz Fortress, one of the most extensive fortress systems in Europe, was built according to the most modern knowledge in the so-called “New Prussian fortification manner”. For the first time in Germany the bastionary system was abandoned and a polygonal system with upstream fortifications was created instead . The city received a new city ​​wall , which was assigned to advanced fortifications on the ridges around the city.

At the site of the 1801 blasted kurtrierischen Ehrenbreitstein on the Ehrenbreitstein military engineers built under the command of General of Infantry Gustav von Rauch , General Inspector of the Prussian fortresses, and Ernst Ludwig von Aster a vast citadel which still dominates the town. The largest military bulwark on the Middle Rhine was built , one of the strongest bastions that is still almost completely preserved today. Fort Asterstein , the fortress of Kaiser Franz in Lützel and the fortress of Emperor Alexander with the upstream Fort Konstantin on the Karthauser were built as further fortifications in Koblenz . Of belonging to the fortresses Fleschen today only a part of the Neuendorfer Flesche survived.

In addition to the fortresses in Gibraltar and Paris and the Cologne fortress, the Koblenz fortress with a circumference of 14 kilometers was one of the most important fortifications in Europe at that time. On the Rhine, it occupied a key position between the Prussian fortress of Cologne and the federal fortress of Mainz , which resulted from the location at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle and the importance of the Rhine crossings at Koblenz and Neuwied, which was last recognized in the coalition wars, even if only to a limited extent with one major thrust the French troops were expected directly on Koblenz.

The three main fortifications of the Koblenz Fortress were to be given the names of the three monarchs of the countries involved in the Wars of Liberation , Prussia , Austria and Russia , who had come together to form the Holy Alliance . The feasts were Emperor Alexander after the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the feasts Emperor Franz after Emperor Franz I of Austria. Short-term considerations, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress after the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. Naming festivals Friedrich Wilhelm did not prevail.

In the 1860s, various parts of the fortress were modernized in order to adapt them to the advanced gun technology. The two bridges newly built for the railway, the Moselle Railway Bridge and the Pfaffendorfer Bridge , also had to be fitted with fortifications and the city fortifications had to be adapted accordingly.

Since after the Franco-German war Metz and Strasbourg were the foremost German fortresses in the direction of France and the expansion of the Koblenz fortress would have been too costly, it was classified as less important in 1886. This was followed on March 13, 1890 decree of the Prussian government, the razing of the left-bank fortifications, in particular by buying Mayor Emil Schüller the fortification was demolished. The city's settlement area was now able to break out of the narrow city limits for the first time. The fortifications on the right bank of the Rhine with the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in the center remained operational until the First World War and were reinforced in 1914/15 by the construction of concrete shelters. The entire fortress of Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein was abandoned by law on August 25, 1924. 90 years after its completion, the fortress was history.

In implementation of the provisions of the Versailles Treaty , the fortress of Koblenz was also loosened from 1920 to 1929. As a rule, larger parts of the fortifications were destroyed in order to make them unusable. Only the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress was spared from this razing, its historical importance and its landscape-defining character prompted the Inter-Allied Military Control Commission in 1922 to refrain from deconsolidating it. The vote of the Commanding General of the American Forces in the Rhineland, Henry Tureman Allen , apparently contributed to this decision.

The fortifications that had remained after the fortification was largely completed in 1927 suffered further losses due to demolitions until the 1990s. In the 1960s, for example, the redoubts of the Emperor Alexander and Emperor Franz festivals were massively reduced by explosions. They had been used as emergency shelters since World War II and had developed into a social hotspot that the demolition wanted to remove. The reduit of the Bubenheimer Flesche, which was integrated as a restaurant in the Volkspark in Lützel , which today is basically reminiscent of the Cologne green belt , was completely destroyed in 1969. Its rubble was used to build a toboggan hill. There was also a loss of substance, for example at the “Horchheimer Tor” fortification and, to a lesser extent, at the “Teufelstreppe” on the Glockenberg.

In addition to the parts of the complex that are visible above ground, there are also remains of the demolished fortifications underground. During construction work, walls or parts of corridors or vaults repeatedly come to light in various parts of the urban area. This often leads to persistent rumors and stories, in which the size and length of such underground cavities are usually very exaggerated; There is even talk of an alleged tunnel under the Rhine (which never existed until the so-called Rhine culvert was built in 1979). The preservation of such underground remains is usually difficult, they are often cleared away without documentation.

The state of Rhineland-Palatinate , the city of Koblenz and the Federal Republic of Germany, as the owners of fortifications, as well as several development associations, have been trying harder to maintain the property, which has been severely damaged by vacancy and decay since the 1990s. This stock is not only threatened by the ravages of time, but also by new projects such as the proposal to break through the last intact piece of Rhine bank fortification at the castle. This idea, developed in the course of the preliminary planning for the Federal Garden Show 2011 , was supported by the population, as they hoped for better accessibility of the castle and wanted to restore a supposedly "historical" condition. Ultimately, a compromise was achieved by creating two smaller passages so that the wall could largely be preserved. Another problem area is general town planning, which for a long time paid no attention to the fortifications. Due to the lack of access or inconsiderate development in the surrounding area, the remaining components were also displaced from the cityscape or the awareness of the population and their use made more difficult.

Since 2002, the individual fortifications have been part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Site , which has been recognized by UNESCO .

Fortress engineers

The officers: Gustav von Rauch , Ernst Ludwig von Aster , Claudius Franz Le Bauld de Nans and Gotthilf Benjamin Keibel were significantly involved in the planning for the rebuilding of the Ehrenbreitstein and the new fortification of the Koblenz fortress .

The expansion of the works on the left bank of the Rhine was supervised and managed from 1816 to 1825 by the square engineer Heinrich Adolph Buschbeck , the square engineer on the right bank of the Rhine from 1815 by the square engineer Wilhelm von Huene , who was appointed square engineer for Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein after Buschbeck's departure.

The following engineer officers worked in the Koblenz fortress for a longer period of time during the construction phase until around 1832:

The commanders and governors of the Prussian fortress Koblenz

The Prussian garrison Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein

During the Prussian period from 1814 to 1918, the fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein was a large garrison with infantry , artillery , pioneer and train units. The units changed often until a constant occupancy emerged at the end of the 19th century. To make orientation easier, the units are shown here with their last valid names.

Parts of the following infantry units were located in the Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein garrisons:

The following pioneer units were in parts in Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein:

Parts of the following artillery units were in Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Since the artillery was often restructured, the names changed very often. The units listed here as field artillery regiments also provided part of the fortress artillery until 1870:

Ehrenbreitstein was also the home of the 1st Rhenish Train Battalion No. 8 , which, however, was moved to the Train barracks in Koblenz-Lützel after its completion. (Today's Rhine barracks .)
The telegraph battalion No. 3 was in the telegraph barracks in Koblenz-Rauental. (Later Boelcke barracks .)

The General Command of the VIII Army Corps in Koblenz

In From the Leyenschen court in the city of Koblenz was the 1814-1918 General Command of the VIII. Corps , which commanded the Prussian troops and associations in the Rhine Province. Some of his commanding generals found their final resting place in the Koblenz main cemetery .

The first commanding general of the Prussian troops in the Rhineland was General August Neidhardt von Gneisenau . Its chief of staff was Carl von Clausewitz .

Of the other commanding generals, Moritz von Hirschfeld , who led it in the imperial constitution campaign of 1849, and August Karl von Goeben , who commanded the army corps from 1870 until his death in 1880, are the most important.

Chiefs of the General Staff included Helmuth von Moltke , Albrecht von Roon and Paul von Hindenburg .

See also


Collections of articles

  • Preservation and use of large historical fortresses. Conference proceedings, edited by Hans-Rudolf Neumann, published by the state capital Magdeburg, Mainz 2005.
  • New research on fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Volume 1. Ed. Of castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate and the German Society for Fortress Research. 2., revised. Edition - Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2005. ISBN 3-7954-1764-3
  • New research on fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Volume 2. Ed. Of castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate and the German Society for Fortress Research. - Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2006. ISBN 3-7954-1910-7 .
  • New research on fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Volume 3, edited by the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate and the German Society for Fortress Research. - Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2012, ISBN 978-3-7954-2475-6 .

Individual works of the fortress

  • Devotion & War. From the Koblenz Charterhouse to Fort Konstantin. Festschrift for the 10th anniversary Pro Konstantin e. V. ed. by Dieter Marcos, Koblenz 2004, ISBN 3-9807361-5-6 .
  • Böckling, Manfred: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Published by the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate - Castles, Palaces, and Antiquities. 2nd updated edition. Regensburg 2012 (= Edition Burgen Schlösser Antiquities Rheinland-Pfalz, guide booklet 17). ISBN 978-3-7954-2474-9
  • Feste Kaiser Franz ... a section of the fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. ed. from Feste Kaiser Franz e. V., 2nd, updated edition 2016.
  • Feste Kaiser Franz. On the history of the fortress and the Feste Franz system in Koblenz-Lützel. Festschrift for the 10th anniversary Feste Kaiser Franz e. V. ed. from Feste Kaiser Franz e. V., 4th edition, Koblenz 2017, ISBN 978-3-934795-55-6 .
  • Fort Constantine. Historic place with a future. For the 20th anniversary of the PRO KONSTANTIN association (1993–2013). Ed .: PRO KONSTANTIN e. V. Overall editing: Sebastian Gleixner. Koblenz: Garwain Verlag 2013. ISBN 978-3-936436-24-2 .
  • Matthias Kellermann: The Prussian fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. On the history of the fortifications on the right bank of the Rhine. 3rd edition, Koblenz 2014, ISBN 978-3-934795-63-1 .
  • Wolfgang Klefisch: Neuendorfer Flesche - From the fortress model to the Prussian fortress in Koblenz. On the occasion of 25 years of the Förderkreis Neuendorfer Flesche eV Koblenz, 5th edition, Bornheim (Rhl) 2015.

Overall representations

  • Dieter Marcos: Architecture of War and the Spirit of Romanticism: Studies on fortress architecture of the early 19th century, illustrated using the example of the Koblenz fortress , Lahnstein 2000 (diss.). ISBN 3-9807361-1-3 . - Controversially discussed research approach.
  • Hartwig Neumann , Udo Liessem: The classicist large fortress Koblenz. A fortress through the ages: Prussian bastion, espionage object, cultural monument. With the complete reprint of the German edition of the "espionage work" by JH Humfrey: attempt of a newly adopted fortification system for the defense of the Rhine border. Nuremberg 1842. - Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe 1989 (= Architectura militaris, vol. 2).
  • Thomas Tippach (Diss.): Koblenz as a Prussian garrison and fortress city economy, infrastructure and urban development. 2000 (series: urban research, series A: representations volume 53), ISBN 3-412-08600-2 .
  • Klaus T. Weber (dissertation): The Prussian fortifications of Koblenz (1815–1834). (Series: Art and Cultural Studies Research) 2003, ISBN 3-89739-340-9 .
  • Klaus T. Weber: And what remains? Fortresses after military use. The example of the fortress Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein. In: Exploration and valuation of fortresses today. published by the German Society for Fortress Research, editor: Guido von Büren, Regensburg 2015, pp. 73–98 (Fortress Research Volume 7). ISBN 978-3-7954-3027-6 .
  • Rüdiger Wischemann: The Koblenz Fortress. From the Roman fort and Prussia's strongest fortress to the largest garrison of the Bundeswehr. - Koblenz: Rhenania 1978. (Out of print.)

Historical treatises

  • Humfrey, John Hambly: Attempt of a newly adopted fortification system for the defense of the Rhine border, which is followed more or less in all excellent works of this kind that are now being built on the Continent: exemplified by a complete memoir about the fortress Coblenz . Nuremberg 1842, ( online edition dilibri Rhineland-Palatinate )

Special themes from the history of the fortress

  • Manfred Böckling: When Wallhausen mobilized Prussia's army. A breakdown on the Nahe in 1882 and the mobilization preparations of the VIII. Prussian Army Corps in the Rhine Province. In: Yearbook for West German State History. 35 (2009), pp. 521-558. ISSN  0170-2025 - It is also about reinforcements of the fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein.
  • Manfred Böckling: A key to the Middle Rhine. The fortress of Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein from the point of view of French engineer officers. In: Regional history quarterly papers. 48 (2002), pp. 121-138.
  • Manfred Böckling: A prepared battlefield on the Rhine and Moselle. Day excursion to the fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein, 2.6.2018. - In: Fortis, Das Magazin, 2018, Cologne: Fortis Colonia eV 2018, pp. 56-69.
  • Manfred Böckling: Women in Prussian fortresses. Food for thought, collected using the example of the Prussian garrison and fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein (1814–1918). In: Living in and with fortresses. published by the German Society for Fortress Research, editor: Klaus T. Weber, Regensburg 2010, pp. 51–73. (Fortress Research Volume 2). ISBN 978-3-7954-2319-3 .
  • Angela Kaiser-Lahme : 200 years of the fortress city of Koblenz. From the construction of the New-Prussian-French fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein and their consequences. - In: Rheinische Heimatpflege, vol. 56 (2019), no. 2, pp. 111-122.
  • Matthias Kellermann: The softening of Koblenz after the First World War. In: The end of the fortresses. Opened - dragged - forgotten? Published by the German Society for Fortress Research, editor: Daniel Burger , Regensburg 2009, pp. 167–181 (Fortress Research Volume 1). ISBN 978-3-7954-2299-8 .
  • Matthias Kellermann: The military bakeries of the Prussian fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. On the history of the Koblenz military bakeries with special consideration of the war bakery in the Feste Kaiser Franz. Published by Feste Kaiser Franz e. V., Koblenz 2018, ISBN 978-3956384141 .
  • Matthias Kellermann: Koblenz Fortress and Ehrenbreitstein. Deconsolidation 1920-1922 - photographs by Joseph Ring. Koblenz 2018, ISBN 978-3-95638-413-4 .
  • Klaus T. Weber: Rayon - an art landscape. A contribution to the area in front of modern fortresses. In: Living in and with fortresses. published by the German Society for Fortress Research, editing: Klaus T. Weber, Regensburg 2010, pp. 126–138. (Fortress Research Volume 2). ISBN 978-3-7954-2319-3 .

Source work

  • Winfried Bliss: The fortress plans of the Prussian War Ministry. An inventory , Cologne Weimar Vienna 2008, pp. 383–432 (publications from the archives of Prussian cultural property, volume 59.1).
  • Hans-Rudolf Neumann: The classicist large fortress Koblenz. A bibliography. S. Roderer Verlag, Regensburg 2001, ISBN 3-89783-274-7 .
  • Harry Oestreich: Finding aid on historical documents (files, plans etc.) of the "Prussian Great Fortress Koblenz / Ehrenbreitstein" , ed. v. of the city administration of Koblenz -Kulturamt-, Koblenz 1992.
  • Klaus T. Weber: What is newer fastening? Prussia from 1814 , Berlin 2002 (sources for fortress research, vol. 1).

Web links

Commons : Koblenz Fortress  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Udo von Bonin: History of the engineer corps and the pioneers in Prussia . 2: From 1812 to the middle of the nineteenth century. Berlin 1878. Friedrich Wilhelm Hansch: History of the Royal Saxon Engineer and Pioneer Corps (Pioneer Battalion No. 12) . Dresden 1898. Klemens Mersmann: History of the Royal Prussian Guard Pioneer Battalion . 2nd Edition. Berlin 1910. Military weekly paper [years 1816–1868] . Berlin. Ranking and quarters list of the Royal Prussian Army for the year ... [1817–1868] . Berlin. Archives: Garrison military church books, 18th and 19th centuries. Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin and Secret State Archive of Prussian Cultural Heritage .