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Map of the Cimbrian Peninsula ; the boundaries of Holstein (yellow) correspond to today's understanding, but must be viewed in a more historically differentiated way.

Holstein ( Danish and Lower German : Holsten , Latin : Holsatia ) is the southern part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein and was named after one of the three Saxon tribes originally resident here , the Holsten (eigtl. Holtsaten = "forest dwellers"; cf. Old Saxons . brings "wood, forest" and sāt "Sasse, inhabitant"), named.

About naming

Probably the first written mention of the Holsteiner who gave their name is to Adam von Bremen in 1076:

Transalbianorum Saxonum populi sunt tres. Primi ad occeanum sunt Tedmarsgoi, et eorum ecclesia mater in Melindorp. Secundi Holcetae, dicti a silvis, quas accolunt; eos Sturia flumen interluit, ecclesia Scanafeld. Tercii et nobiliores Sturmarii dicuntur, eo quod seditionibus ea gens frequens agitur. Inter quos metropolis Hammaburg caput extollit, olim viris et armis potens, agro et frugibus felix;


“There are three Saxon tribes in the north of the Elbe : first, the Dithmarschen ; they live by the sea, and their mother church is in Meldorf . Second, the holsters: they are named after the wood they are near; The Stör flows through its Gau ; their church is Schenefeld . The third and noblest tribe is called Stormarn , because this Gau is often seized by storms of unrest. The mother church of Hammaburg rises its head in its midst , which used to be rich in men and arms, rich in land and fruits. "


Holstein (brown) around 1250

The historic Holstein landscape is bounded in the south by the lower reaches of the Elbe between the urban area of Hamburg , which historically belongs to Holstein-Stormarn, and Brunsbüttel . From here to the north, along the Holstengraben and the Holstenau, the border to Dithmarschen follows , which was an independent peasant republic until 1559. The border with the Schleswig region lay along today's Kiel Canal and the Eider and Levensau, which partly coincide with the canal . The cities of Rendsburg and Kiel are directly on the Eider-Levensau line, but with their historic city centers still belong to Holstein. Holstein stretches from Kiel to Lübeck on the Baltic Sea , but the island of Fehmarn , separated from the East Holstein mainland by a two kilometer wide sound, historically belongs to Schleswig. The Duchy of Lauenburg is also not part of the Holstein region, whose southeast border, corresponding to today's Stormarn - Lauenburg district border , runs in an irregular line from Lübeck to the mouth of the Bille river and the Elbe near Hamburg city center. Politically, today's Hanseatic city of Lübeck and the areas around Eutin did not belong to the Duchy of Holstein for centuries .

Holstein is characterized by three major landscapes. The Geest (Low German gest "dry, barren") is a partially sandy, slightly undulating area with typical terrain heights between 20 and 50 meters above sea level in the middle of the country. The eastern hill country connects to the Geest northeast of a line between Rendsburg and northeast Hamburg. The eastern hill country was formed by the (last) Vistula Ice Age . It is a fertile moraine land with undulating soil, which with the Bungsberg in Ostholstein reaches 168 m above sea level. Along the Elbe there are the Elbmarschen , a fertile land that has been cultivated on the basis of sediments since the 12th century .

In order to distinguish Holstein from the northern part of Schleswig , the Eider-Levensau line is viewed as a border in today's understanding. Thus, the historic landscapes of Dithmarschen, Stormarn and Wagrien as well as the Duchy of Lauenburg and, since its loss of independence in 1937 , Lübeck are also included, but not Hamburg, which originally developed in the Stormarn area. This part of the country has an area of ​​around 10,000 km² (almost two thirds of the state) and a little over two million inhabitants (four fifths of the state's population). The latter is not only due to the two large cities of Kiel and Lübeck, but also to the densely populated Hamburg area, which is largely in the Holstein region.

Until the late Middle Ages, within this area, which had been under the same rule since about 1100, the distinction between the different settlement areas was important: Stormarn in the south (corresponds roughly to today's districts of Stormarn and Pinneberg, parts of Segeberg and the north Elbe part of Hamburg) and Holstein proper in the north-west (Corner points roughly: Rendsburg – Kiel– Bramstedt - Wilster ) as settlement areas of the Stormarn and Holsten mentioned above . The third north Elbe Saxon tribe, the Dithmarscher, only lost its de facto independence in 1559. In the east, the Counts of Holstein conquered Ostholstein, which had been Slavic (Wagrier, Polaben) settled since the early Middle Ages, and which became Ostholstein from around 1150 through the immigration of Saxon-speaking new settlers and integration into the County of Holstein (the smooth transition from Slavic Saxon [Low German] language was probably closed here in the 15th century). For a long time these areas were separated from each other by scarcely populated strips of edema, some of which are still sparsely populated.

Johannes Mejer (1606–1674) made the first precise land survey of Holstein . Several of his country maps were printed in 1652 - together with descriptions by Caspar Danckwerth - as a three-part atlas New State Description of the two Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein . The collection also contains plans of the larger cities.

A comprehensive work is the Topography of Holstein published in 1803 in alphabetical order by Johann Friedrich August Dörfer (1766-1824). It was reprinted in several editions and supplemented in 1855 by Johannes von Schröder's regional studies . More recent land surveys were carried out by military topographers and, in the 20th century, by the land surveying office .


Holstein belonged to the Franconian Empire from 811 to 1806 or, in its successor, to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, and after 1815 was a member of the German Confederation . The northern border of the duchy was also the imperial border. For almost a hundred years, from 934 to 1025, the area up to the Schlei also belonged to the Saxon rulership as Mark Schleswig and formed the northern border march of the Holy Roman Empire. Holstein was a county until 1474 and then a duchy until 1864 .

Franconian-German period 811–1460

The three Saxon districts or sub-tribes of the Dithmarscher, Holsten and Stormarner (in dark blue) between around 800 and 1100 AD.

When the Frankish king Charlemagne subjugated the Saxons, he also added their northern Elbe area to his empire. However, it was only from the 930s that large parts of northern Elbe could be sustainably secured against Danish and Slavic claims to rule. The original Holstein comprised roughly the present-day districts of Segeberg , Steinburg , Pinneberg , Neumünster , Kiel , Rendsburg-Eckernförde south of the Eider ( Latin : Egdor fluvius ), southern Plön and Stormarn . The area to the east of the Schwentine , known today as Ostholstein , was settled by Slavs in the early Middle Ages ( Wagrien ) and was not subjugated until the High Middle Ages by the Counts of Holstein, described in detail in the Slav chronicle of Helmold von Bosau .

The border between Holstein and today's part of Schleswig has been formed by the Eider and the Levensau (north of Kiel) since the time of Charlemagne . A corresponding contract between Franks and Danes was concluded in 811. The eastern moorland and woodland between the Eider or Schlei and the Elbe formed a natural border with the name Limes Saxoniae compared to the Slavic areas . The Saxon Dithmarschen is in principle also part of Holstein, but this landscape was able to maintain a large degree of independence throughout the Middle Ages , before it actually became part of the Duchy of Holstein in the 16th century. Initially, however, the northern Elbe districts belonged to the Frankish Empire as part of the Duchy of Saxony, from which the Holy Roman Empire emerged over time .

In addition to the Gau Dithmarschen and Holstein mentioned, there was thirdly the Gau Stormarn , today's Südholstein (larger than today's district of the same name). While Dithmarschen was initially subordinate to the Count of Stade and then developed into a de facto autonomous peasant republic , the Gaue Holstein and Stormarn merged to form the County of Holstein. The appointment of Adolf von Schauenburg as Count of Holstein and Stormarn took place in 1111 by the Saxon Duke Lothar von Supplinburg . After conquering the Slavic territories (Wagria) east of the Limes Saxoniae (Ostholstein), the Counts of Holstein were able to greatly expand their power over the lower nobility in the western parts of the country. Only in Dithmarschen did the free farmers keep up until 1559.

While Count Adolf III. von Schauenburg and Holstein ruled and the Holy Roman Empire experienced a period of weakness, the southern Jutland Duke Christoph and the Danish King Knut VI tried . and its successor Waldemar II. , Denmark extend to the south. That seemed after Adolf III. 1201 had lost the Battle of Stellau and was later captured in Hamburg, initially to be successful, because Adolf, as a result of the defeat and to free himself from captivity, renounced the County of Holstein in 1203 and moved to the County of Schauenburg withdrew.

Only his son Count Adolf IV succeeded in recapturing Holstein. The attempt of King Waldemar II to integrate Holstein and other territories firmly into his empire failed in 1227 in the Battle of Bornhöved due to the resistance of a coalition of north German princes led by the Archbishop of Bremen and Adolf IV. The Counts of Holstein strengthened theirs after this victory Rulership not only in Holstein, but also soon gained influence in the neighboring Duchy of Schleswig , temporarily also in Denmark itself. The connection between Holstein and Schleswig was strengthened; Especially the Holstein nobility soon had large estates north of the Eider, and after the Danish-Schleswig ducal dynasty died out in 1386, the Schauenburgers forced their hereditary enfeoffment with the Duchy of Schleswig by the Danish royal family .

Between 1261 and 1390, the County of Holstein was divided by several divisions of the Counts of Schauenburg and Holstein into various counties, some of which only existed for a few decades, of which the Holstein-Rendsburg line was the most important. The Holstein-Pinneberg line existed the longest (until 1640).

Danish period 1460–1864

Duchy of Holstein in the 15th century
Holstein on an engraving by Matthäus Merian (1653)

The Holstein-Rendsburg line of the Counts of Schauenburg died out in 1459. In order to keep Schleswig and Holstein together, the estates (nobility, cities and some ecclesiastical institutions) in both countries elected the Danish King Christian I of Denmark as Duke of Schleswig and Count of Holstein in 1460 . The claims of the actually entitled to inherit Otto II from the Holstein-Pinneberg line were passed over.

The county of Holstein remained part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and was founded on February 14, 1474 by the Habsburg Emperor Friedrich III. in Rothenburg ob der Tauber raised to the Duchy of Holstein as a direct imperial fief . The Danish King Christian I thus became the emperor's liege as Duke of Holstein, after he had confirmed the rights of the nobility in the duchies of Holstein and Schleswig in Ripen . The catchphrase Up ewich tosamende ungedelt, which gained special significance in 19th century nationalism, also comes from the Treaty of Ripen .

From 1460 to the German-Danish War in 1864, Holstein and the adjacent Duchy of Schleswig to the north were linked to the Kingdom of Denmark in personal union. From 1773 both duchies belonged to the entire Danish state , which also included Norway and Iceland . In addition to the Danish king, however, at the time of the division of the country between 1544 and 1773, other co-dukes were added, so that the ducal rule in Holstein at that time was divided into royal, ducal and jointly ruled shares.

From 1522 the Reformation spread in Holstein. Together with Schleswig, Holstein received an Evangelical-Lutheran church ordinance in 1542 . With this, the property of the monasteries and cathedral chapters passed to a large extent into the hands of the authorities. As in other territories, witch hunts took place in Holstein in the early modern period (around 1530 to 1735). Official witch trials were conducted against a total of 490 people in the Holstein, Lauenburg and Lübeck area. The high points of the persecutions were the years 1600 to 1640 and 1660 to 1670.

In his capacity as Duke of the Roman-German Duchy of Holstein, King Christian IV was involved in the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century , which from 1627 also led to considerable devastation in Holstein. In 1665 the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel was established on the basis of an imperial German privilege.

Although part of the entire Danish state, Holstein and Schleswig had their own currency from 1788 to 1813

Overall, Holstein was increasingly integrated economically, politically and socially into the Danish state as a whole . Many representatives of the aristocratic Holstein upper class held important positions at the Danish court in Copenhagen. Holstein took part in the extensive reforms in the entire Danish state in the 18th century (agricultural reform, peasant liberation, popular education). For the administration of Schleswig and Holstein, the German chancellery was set up at the Danish court in German, which had a certain independence. In 1788, for example, the duchies received their own currency, compatible with Hamburg and Lübeck ( Schillinge Schleswig-Holsteinisch Courant ).

In contrast to Schleswig, which is also Danish under constitutional law, Holstein was always part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation until 1806 and formed its northernmost territory - even if it was mostly ruled by the Danish king in his function as duke. The seat of the highest authorities for Holstein was Glückstadt on the Lower Elbe until 1846 . Because of its proximity to the economic center of Hamburg, important institutions were also located in Altona in Holstein in the 18th century , such as a mint and important banks.

In the course of the Danish national bankruptcy in 1813, the silver stocks that covered the Schleswig-Holstein paper money were confiscated by the Danish state. The value of paper money declined. As in the Danish heartland, a new compulsory tax was imposed on the residents to finance the state.

In 1815 Holstein became a member of the German Confederation , while Schleswig, which is adjacent to the north, remained outside the German community as an old Danish fiefdom. From the 1830s a German (in Holstein and Schleswig) and a Danish (in Denmark including Schleswig) national liberal movement emerged, which stood in opposition to the absolute Danish governed state . The conflict over the future of the multiethnic state as a whole and, in particular, the national affiliation of Schleswig culminated in the Schleswig-Holstein survey in March 1848 . In March 1848 governments were formed in both Copenhagen ( March Ministry ) and Kiel ( Provisional Government ), in which both aristocratic and (national) liberal elements were represented. The subsequent (civil) war lasted until the beginning of 1851 and cost several thousand deaths, most of them in the decisive battle near Idstedt on July 25, 1850. After the defeat of the German movement of Schleswig-Holstein and the restoration of the Danish administration, it came to pass a first major wave of emigration, mostly overseas.

Danish administrative division

Schleswig-Holstein coat of arms of the Carlshütte

The highest administrative authority for the special affairs of the duchies of Holstein and Lauenburg was a ministry established on January 27, 1852 , which had its seat in Copenhagen and to which the two state dicasteries , namely the Holstein government in Plön and the Lauenburg government in Ratzeburg , were directly subordinate . By patent dated November 12, 1862, a royal Holstein government was set up to facilitate business operations , whose competence extended to all matters of the duchy, unless the situation made it necessary for the Holstein-Lauenburg ministry to deal with them. Holstein in

  • 21 royal rural districts (offices), the administration of which was carried out by royal senior officials, in
  • 14 cities, whose magistrates were directly responsible for the government, and in
  • 10 manor districts, which were run by nobles or their equals, as well as in
  • 4 Koogdistricts, which were under special sovereign justice,


The 21 royal rural districts were several united under one senior official:

  • Middle third part Dithmarschen (After the conquest in 1559, Dithmarschen was divided into three parts: Duke Adolf I of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf received the northern part, his brother Johann II, who ruled in Hadersleben, the central part, and King Frederick II of Denmark the southern part After Johann's death in 1580, Adolf and Friedrich divided his shares between the Gottorfer and the royal line.)
  • Landscape Norderdithmarschen (Norder- and Süderdithmarschen existed since 1580 as landscapes with their own landscape order and a governor at the top. The landscape Norderdithmarschen with the official seat Heide included the eleven parishes Büsum , Delve , Heide, Hemme , Hennstedt , Lunden , Neuenkirchen , Tellingstedt , Weddingstedt , Wesselburen and Nordervogtei Wöhrden .)
  • Süderdithmarschen landscape (the Süderdithmarschen landscape with the official seat of Meldorf included the 13 parishes of Albersdorf , Barlt , Brunsbüttel , Burg in Dithmarschen , Eddelak , Hemmingstedt , Lohe-Rickelshof , Marne , Meldorf, Nordhastedt , Süderhastedt , Wöhrden and Südervogtei Meldorf Geest).
  • Amt Steinburg (The Amt Steinburg, which became part of the royal share when the country was divided in 1544, consisted of the two marsh districts Krempermarsch and Wilstermarsch and the Itzehoer Burgdistrikt, i.e. the sovereign part of the city of Itzehoe .)
  • Office of Rendsburg (The great office of Rendsburg came to a royal share when the country was divided in 1544.)
  • Amt Neumünster (The small Amt Neumünster became part of the Gottorfish part when the country was divided in 1544.)
  • Ämter Bordesholm , Kiel , Kronshagen (The small Amt Kiel emerged from the medieval district of Kiel Castle, the medium-sized Amt Bordesholm, however, from the possessions of the Augustinian Canons' Monastery of Bordesholm , which was abolished in the 16th century , while the small Amt Kronshagen did not develop until 1768 from one of the sovereigns acquired noble estate.)
  • Ämter Cismar and Oldenburg (The small Amt Cismar arose in 1561 from the possessions of the Benedictine monastery Cismar , which had been moved here from Lübeck in 1245. In 1544 the monastery fell to the Gottorf part. The small Amt Oldenburg comprised the sovereign district, which in 1544 was also part of the Gottorf part in eastern Wagria . In 1768 it fell to the Bishop of Lübeck.)
  • Offices Plön and Ahrensbök (The small office of Plön arose from the bailiwick of the sovereign Plöner Burg. When the country was divided in 1544, it came to the king, whose son ceded it to his brother, Duke Johann the Younger of Sønderborg in 1582 the office of Plön was part of the special castle Duchy of Plön , which fell back to the king in 1761. The office of Ahrensbök arose from the possessions of the Carthusian monastery, which was secularized in the 16th century . Since 1582 it was part of the duchy of Plön until 1761.)
  • Ämter Reinfeld , Rethwisch , Traventhal (The three Ämter Reinfeld, Rethwisch and Traventhal together with the Ämter Plön and Ahrensbök formed the ducal-Plönic part of Holstein. The oldest of the three Ämter Reinfeld, originally belonged to the property of the Reinfeld Monastery . When the monastery was abolished, the Reinfeld office emerged from its possessions in 1582, which lost its independence in 1762 when the custodian of the Rethwisch and Traventhal offices also took over the administration of the Reinfeld office. The Rethwisch office, originally a noble estate of the Heest family, became Sold in 1616 to Duke Johann the Younger, enlarged by a few Reinfeld official villages, established as an office in 1761. The office Traventhal emerged from a few villages belonging to the office Segeberg.)
  • Amt Segeberg (The extended Amt Segeberg emerged from the Segeberg Castle District, to which the possessions of the Segeberg Monastery were added after the Reformation . When the country was divided in 1544, it was a royal share.)
  • Ämter Reinbek , Trittau , Tremsbüttel (The three offices Reinbek, Trittau and Tremsbüttel formed the eastern part of the former Saxon Gau Stormarn and are therefore referred to as the old Stormarn offices. Trittau emerged from a bailiwick of the Schauenburg counts. The Tremsbüttel office emerged from estate ownership. The Tremsbüttel office was pledged to the Dukes of Gottorf in 1571. The Reinbek office did not begin until the Reformation, when Reinbek monastery was dissolved in 1529 and passed to the Danish king in 1544 and then to Duke Adolf von Gottorf when the country was divided in 1544 who built Reinbek Castle in 1572. After 1773, when the offices of the Gottorfisch or, in the meantime, grand ducal offices became royal and now belonged to the entire Danish state, the offices of Reinbek and Trittau were finally merged, with Reinbek Castle serving as the official seat.)
  • Dominion Pinneberg (The Dominion Pinneberg refers to the part of the country that fell to the Danish King in 1640 when the County of Holstein-Schauenburg-Pinneberg was divided. However, it remained separate from the rest of the royal portion of the Duchy of Holstein, its peculiarities were not touched and by the central authorities administered as a separate part of the country.)
  • Grafschaft Rantzau , Herrschaft Herzhorn , Sommerland and Greenland (The territory of the County of Rantzau fell to Duke Friedrich III von Gottorf as an office of Barmstedt when the County of Holstein-Schauenburg-Pinneberg was divided in 1640 , who in 1649 passed it to Christian zu Rantzau , the royal governor After Christian Rantzau's admission to the imperial counts in 1650, the office he had acquired was elevated to a direct imperial count. In 1726 the king of Denmark confiscated the county, but administered it as a separate part of the country. Dominion Herzhorn, Sommerland and Greenland was a marching district near the city of Glückstadt .)

The 14 cities had their own administration and jurisdiction; their authority was the magistrate ( Altona had an upper president, Kiel an upper director):

The manor districts had retained their traditional administration:

  • The aristocratic estates (with the exception of the grand ducal Holstein-Oldenburg entails) were divided into four districts: Oldenburg goods district, Preetz goods district, Kiel goods district, Itzeho goods district.
  • In the three aristocratic monastery districts, authority was exercised by the male rulers of the monasteries (the bitterness in Itzehoe and the provosts in Preetz and Uetersen ).
  • Grand Ducal Oldenburg (Schleswig-Holstein) Fideikommissgüter (administration in Eutin )
  • Holstein chancellery goods and Lübsche goods (goods that have been in the possession of Lübeck patrician families since ancient times and in which Luebian law applied)
  • Lübsche Stadtstiftsdörfer and wilderness

With the dike in new lands from the 17th century onwards, sovereign coogdistricts arose on the west coast, which were given special privileges, the so-called octroi . The kings had their own judiciary and administration:

1864 until today - Prussian province and subsequent period

Map of Holstein (1866)
The border between the parts of Schleswig and Holstein in today's federal state of Schleswig-Holstein

After the rejection of the entire state constitution of 1855 by the German Confederation and the Holstein assembly of estates, the so-called November constitution was passed in November 1863 , which, contrary to the London Protocol of 1852, was supposed to bind Schleswig closer to Denmark proper. The German Confederation demanded its withdrawal and initiated the occupation of Lauenburg and Holstein in December 1863 as part of a so-called federal execution . In February 1864, Prussian and Austrian troops finally crossed the border river Eider - against the resistance of the German Confederation, which declared the procedure to be illegal - and marched into Schleswig, which began the German-Danish War . After weeks of fighting over the Düppeler Schanzen in April 1864, Denmark was forced to cede Schleswig and Holstein. Austria and Prussia ruled Schleswig-Holstein from 1864 to 1866 as a condominium . After the German War in 1866, Prussia had sole rights over the area and annexed it. In 1867 the province of Schleswig-Holstein was established. Lauenburg was ruled by Prussia in personal union from 1865 to 1876.

In the Prussian era, Kiel became the second major city as a naval base and industrial location; the provincial government for Holstein and Schleswig had its seat from 1879 to 1917 in Schleswig , which is outside of Holstein. Altona had been the largest city since the 18th century before it was incorporated into Hamburg as a result of the Greater Hamburg Act in 1937 .

In the following decades there were major migration movements (emigration to overseas, especially from the west coast, considerable influx from Germany to the industrial cities of Kiel and Altona) and at the beginning of the 20th century there were several serious agricultural crises. In the 1920s, these led to an uproar in the peasant population, sometimes of anarchic proportions, and were partly responsible for the early successes of the National Socialists.

The air raids on Kiel caused very serious damage to the city. Under British occupation, Schleswig-Holstein became independent again in 1946 after the defeat of Prussia and in 1949 a state of the Federal Republic of Germany .

From the beginning of 1945 several million refugees, mainly from Pomerania and East Prussia, reached Schleswig-Holstein by sea or land. The country's population doubled by the end of the decade, with different distribution (1939–1950: Stormarn district +54%, Duchy of Lauenburg district +51%, Kiel −7%), but fell again in the 1950s due to resettlements within the federal territory light. Around 1960 around 40% of the population consisted of refugees and displaced persons or their underage children. The integration led to numerous tensions and problematic life courses and also shaped the political landscape until the 1980s, but did not become virulent on a large scale ; in particular, no major violent conflicts have come to light.

Since the 1970s, the affluent Hamburg area has been characterized by increased immigration from Hamburg and other areas of Germany.

coat of arms

Coat of arms of Holstein, similar to the coat of arms of Schaumburg

The silver shield with a red jagged border, known since the Oldenburgers as the silver nettle leaf on a red background, is the coat of arms of the Schauenburgers , who were enfeoffed with Holstein and Stormarn in 1110 . In Holstein this coat of arms was taken over on various occasions or another symbol was added to differentiate it, the state capital Kiel, for example, has the black boat (see Nesselblatt # list of coats of arms with a nettle leaf ).

Much has been written about the origin of the Holstein coat of arms and its meaning. Opinions are divided. Some see a nettle leaf in the silver figure, others a leaf of the legume bush ( ilex ). Some are of the opinion that the Schauenburgers included a nettle leaf in their coat of arms because their ancestral castle was on the Weser on the Nettelnberg. However, this is contradicted by the fact that the Schauenburgers originally had a lion in their coat of arms and only later, when they were rulers of Holstein, adopted the "nettle leaf" as their coat of arms. It developed from a pure serrated border, which was provided with three nails ( Jesus was crucified with three nails) after Adolf IV's crusade to the Baltic States . The so-called nettle leaf is only proven in 1239.

The nettle leaf was first used in Holstein by Adolf IV., Who defeated the Danes at Bornhöved in 1227 , and later on by his sons as the sole coat of arms alongside the lion motif.


High German is spoken in Holstein and Low German is spoken , especially in rural areas . According to representative surveys, over 80% of the population understand Low German; around half use it for daily oral communication. The refugees and displaced persons after 1945 were linguistically assimilated to a considerable extent, i.e. they learned Holstein for everyday and professional communication, whereas this only applies to a very limited extent to the immigrants from other parts of the Federal Republic, especially since the 1970s. In the Hamburg area, a variant of standard German that is only slightly regionally colored is widely spoken.

According to the 2015 study by the University of Hamburg, around 37,000 residents of Holstein belong to the Danish minority .

In May 2007 the Ministry of the Interior gave the municipalities the opportunity to set up bilingual place-name signs , as has been customary in the Frisian-speaking area (Schleswig) since 1997.


Large parts of Holstein such as the Elbmarschen are dominated by agriculture. In addition to the nationally known Holsteiner Cox apple variety, Holstein is known worldwide for the Holstein cattle breed and the Holsteiner horse breed .

Larger industrial settlements can be found mainly in the large cities of Kiel and Lübeck as well as in the Hamburg area, and to a lesser extent in Neumünster . Kiel is especially as a shipbuilding center of world-class (including submarines with fuel cell drive the HDW significant). Since the middle of the 20th century, the urban landscape of Hamburg has been expanded according to plan along several settlement axes, three of which (Pinneberg - Elmshorn ; Norderstedt - Kaltenkirchen ; Ahrensburg - Bargteheide ) are in Holstein and a fourth ( Geesthacht ) in Lauenburg. The settlement and the predominantly medium-sized economy are concentrated on them, while planning has succeeded in preventing urban sprawl in the entire surrounding area. In particular, along the first two axes in a north-westerly or north-westerly direction, the practically uninterrupted urban development now extends to Elmshorn and Kaltenkirchen, i.e. 30–40 km from the center of Hamburg into Holstein.

Media and education

The largest regional daily newspapers are the Kieler Nachrichten , the Lübecker Nachrichten , the regional newspapers of the Schleswig-Holstein newspaper publisher SHZ and the Hamburger Abendblatt, which is published in Hamburg . In the field of broadcasting, the NDR (North German Broadcasting) with its various programs should be mentioned in particular . There are also private radio stations such as RSH (Radio Schleswig-Holstein) and open channels in Kiel, Lübeck and Dithmarschen.

The most important university in the country is the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel , which was founded in the 17th century. The small and specialized (medical) University of Lübeck with a focus on medicine , computer science and biotechnology is also important . The private university of applied sciences “Nordakademie” is located in Elmshorn .


Many Holsteiners are members of the Evangelical Church ( Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany ). There are also Catholics ( Archdiocese of Hamburg ), Free Churches, Jews (synagogue in Lübeck, more recent church planting in Segeberg) and Muslims. The proportion of people with no religious affiliation in Holstein has increased continuously over the past few decades.


  • Robert Bohn : History of Schleswig-Holstein. Munich 2006 (CH Beck Wissen series).
  • Steen Bo Frandsen: Holsten i helstaten. Hertugdømmet inden for and uden for the monarki in the forest halvdel af 1800-tallet. Copenhagen 2008.
  • Ulrich Lange (Hrsg.): History of Schleswig-Holstein . Neumünster 2003.
  • Olaf Klose (Hrsg.): History of Schleswig Holstein. 8 volumes. 1957 ff. (Comprehensive standard work).
  • Paul von Hedemann-Heespen : The duchies of Schleswig-Holstein and the modern age. Mühlau, Kiel 1926 (on the subject of “Augustenburg”: see pp. 712–733; Chapters 95 and 96).
  • Jörg Johannsen-Reichert, b. Johannsen: The dispute over the succession of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in the 19th century - an investigation into the succession claims of the dukes of Sønderborg-Augustenburg on Schleswig and Holstein. Dissertation. Ruhr University Bochum 1991. Shaker, Aachen 1999, ISBN 978-3-8265-4724-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Adam von Bremen, II, 17, p. 247. (Translation based on the Ed. By Werner Trillmich, FSGA 11, 7th compared to the 6th edition expanded by a supplement, Darmstadt 2002, pp. 137–499 (with a supplement Pp. 758–764.))
  2. Holstein (history) . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 8, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 663.
  3. ^ Privilege of Ripen. Society for Schleswig-Holstein History, accessed on October 31, 2015 .
  4. ^ Meyer's new conversation lexicon, Leipzig and Vienna 1867, keyword Schleswig-Holstein .
  5. ↑ Survey of the holdings of the Schleswig-Holstein State Archives, Dept. Duchy of Holstein until 1867, 100–113.
  6. ↑ Survey of the holdings of the Schleswig-Holstein State Archives, Dept. Duchy of Holstein until 1867, 133–146.
  7. ↑ Overview of the holdings of the Schleswig-Holstein State Archives, Dept. Duchy of Holstein until 1867, 115–130. See also: Meyer's new conversation lexicon, Leipzig and Vienna 1867, keyword Schleswig-Holstein .
  8. ↑ Survey of the holdings of the Schleswig-Holstein State Archives, Duchy of Holstein until 1867, 114.
  9. http://www.kn-online.de/Schleswig-Holstein/Aus-dem-Land/Studie-aus-Hamburg-Daenische-Minderheit-doppel-so-gross