Fort Wilhelm (Bremerhaven)

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View of Fort Wilhelm from the harbor (1833)

The Fort William , also known as Fort William called, was a 1834 from the Kingdom of Hanover built Fort at the mouth of the Weser. It was supposed to protect Bremerhaven's first port. It was abandoned in 1866 and demolished in 1874.

Construction of the fort

Fort Wilhelm at the lock to the old port (1849)

In the contract signed in 1827 for the sale of an 88.7  hectare stretch of coast on the right bank of the Weser to Bremen for the construction of a new port, the Kingdom of Hanover reserved military sovereignty over the area. When the port's first basin - the old port - was completed in 1830 , Hanover initiated the construction of a fort on a 3-  acre area near the lock to the port at the mouth of the Geeste . A coastal battery had already stood here during the French era .

The fortification, named after Wilhelm IV. , Was completed in 1834. The brick fort was slightly more than a semicircle and was surrounded by a moat. It had two floors and was armed with 18 guns. The crew consisted of a captain, a lieutenant and 44 men. The facility also included a parade ground . On June 24, 1838 King Ernst August I paid a visit to Fort Wilhelm.

Fort Wilhelm was supposed to secure the port against attacks from the sea. It was symbolic rather than military, however; because the suitability of the system was called into question soon after its completion. Georg Bessell reported on this in his History of Bremerhaven : "It was generally claimed that it would not be able to endure the firing of its own cannons." The northern wing had sagged due to poor foundation and showed a long crack in the masonry. The Danes approached the mouth of the Weser without being shot at from the fort. This showed Germany's helplessness and led to the establishment of the first German navy, the Reichsflotte under Karl Rudolf Brommy .

After the failed Schleswig-Holstein uprising, the figurehead of the Danish ship Christian VIII, which was destroyed in the battle near Eckernförde in 1849, was kept in Fort Wilhelm . Duke Ernst II acquired it in 1853.

More fortifications

When the increasing shipping traffic and larger ships exceeded the capacity of the old port after a few years, the construction of a second port basin began in 1847, the new port . However, the work had to be interrupted when Hanover objected to this expansion, as the new lock was outside the range of the guns of Fort Wilhelm and the new dike would have provided cover for possible attackers. Then from 1848 to 1849 a second fortification was built with the dock battery directly at the entrance to the new harbor basin, which was completed in 1852. Bremen had undertaken to contribute a one-off 10,000  thalers and 1000 thalers a year for the maintenance of the facilities. In 1864/65 the main Weser battery was built as the third Hanoverian coastal fortification at the northern end of Bremerhaven. The tower fort did not get beyond the planning.

Demolition of the structures

When war broke out between Prussia and Austria in 1866 , the conflict threatened to reach Bremerhaven as well; because Bremen was part of the Kingdom of Prussia and Hanover was part of the Austrian Empire . However, there were no armed conflicts because Hanover evacuated its positions in Bremerhaven without a fight and Prussian troops occupied the three fortifications on June 19. Only the old commanding officer of Fort Wilhelm, who was the last to stay behind, only wanted to hand it over to the Prussians "over his corpse", but finally allowed himself to be persuaded by a Prussian officer to hand it over peacefully.

At the end of July 1866 the guns of the batteries were dismantled and in 1867 it was decided to demolish the fortifications that had been overhauled by the military. With the Weser forts Brinkamahof and Langlütjen the construction of new and stronger coastal forts had already started. In March 1868 the three fortifications were transferred to Bremen. Prussia retained the right of use until 1870, but did not claim it. As a result, a connecting canal between the old and the new port could now be built, the construction of which had previously been rejected by Hanover for military reasons. The battery at the New Harbor was demolished in 1872. Fort Wilhelm temporarily served as a hospital for cholera sufferers and was demolished in 1874.

The "ruin" in the park of Speckenbüttel is said to have been built in 1897 using the stones from the Weser main battery .

Portal stone

Portal stone

In a "grove" on the north side of the outer port of the New Harbor stood a sandstone slab with the monogram and crown of George V. It was intended as the portal stone of the tower fort, but was built in as little as the fort. For decades it stood in the Speckenbütteler Park , near which it was made. Almost forgotten, it was set up in 1955 by the Morgenstern men near its original destination. When the lock to the New Harbor was rebuilt , the portal stone was first placed on the terrace of the beach hall and then in the Bremerhaven Historical Museum (Morgenstern Museum).


Web links

Commons : Fort Wilhelm  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Georg Bessell: History of Bremerhaven . F. Morisse Verlag, Bremerhaven 1927, p. 597 ( digitized version ).
  2. Klaus Dede : To Weser and Jade 1830–1839. In: Retrieved September 23, 2018 .
  3. ^ Georg Bessell: History of Bremerhaven . F. Morisse Verlag, Bremerhaven 1927, p. 272 ( digitized version ).
  4. ^ Georg Bessell: History of Bremerhaven . F. Morisse Verlag, Bremerhaven 1927, p. 392 ( digitized version ).
  5. ^ Georg Bessell: History of Bremerhaven . F. Morisse Verlag, Bremerhaven 1927, p. 367 ( digitized version ).
  6. ^ Georg Bessell: History of Bremerhaven . F. Morisse Verlag, Bremerhaven 1927, p. 462 ( digitized version ).
  7. Klaus Dede: To Weser and Jade 1860–1864. In: Retrieved September 23, 2018 .
  8. ^ Georg Bessell: History of Bremerhaven . F. Morisse Verlag, Bremerhaven 1927, p. 477 ( digitized version ).
  9. Peter Raap : The ruins in the Speckenbütteler Park . In: Men from Morgenstern, Heimatbund an Elbe and Weser estuary e. V. (Ed.): Niederdeutsches Heimatblatt . No.  687 . Nordsee-Zeitung GmbH, Bremerhaven March 2007, p. 4 ( digital version [PDF; 954 kB ; accessed on September 23, 2018]).
  10. Lars U. Scholl (Ed.): Bremerhaven. A guide to port history . Section by Heiko Eggers: memorial stone in the park at the old lighthouse, portal stone of the Hanover tower fort . German Maritime Museum / Ditzen Druck- und Verlags-GmbH, Bremerhaven 1980, p.  114 .

Coordinates: 53 ° 32 ′ 18 ″  N , 8 ° 34 ′ 43 ″  E