Schleswig-Holstein survey

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Schleswig-Holstein survey
Painting by August Deusser: Proclamation of the Provisional Government of Schleswig-Holstein, March 24, 1848 in Kiel
Painting by August Deusser : Proclamation of the Provisional Government of Schleswig-Holstein, March 24, 1848 in Kiel
date 1848-1851
place Schleswig-Holstein
Exit Victory of Denmark
consequences Schleswig and Holstein remain in personal union with Denmark, Schleswig should not be linked more closely to Denmark than Holstein
Peace agreement London Protocol (1852)
Parties to the conflict

Flag of the German Confederation (war) .svg German Federation Schleswig-Holstein
Flag of Prussia - Province of Schleswig-Holstein.svg

DenmarkDenmark Denmark


1,284 dead, 4,675 wounded

2,128 dead, 5,797 wounded

The Schleswig-Holstein survey was a political and military conflict between the German national movement in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein and the Kingdom of Denmark, supported by the majority of the states of the German Confederation . It lasted from 1848 to 1851. The Danish name is Treårsklern ("Three Years War"). The provisional Schleswig-Holstein government formed in the duchies during the war was not recognized by most states outside the German Confederation .

The uprising of March 1848 became the First Schleswig-Holstein War. The German-Danish War of 1864 is also known as the Second Schleswig-Holstein War.


The many new political currents of the 19th century also influenced the development in the Danish monarchy, with which the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg were connected by personal union at that time . The desire for democratization was soon overshadowed by efforts to establish national states that were as uniform as possible. The Duchy of Schleswig was populated with a mixture of German , Danish and Frisian .

Nevertheless, the national liberals on both sides, who were soon supported by other political forces, each claimed the entire Duchy of Schleswig. The Danish national liberals referred to the centuries-long feudal connection between Schleswig and the Danish monarchy and the historic Eider Frontier , which had already been agreed between Charlemagne and the Danish Viking king Hemming in 811 , and the German Schleswig-Holsteiners referred to the Treaty of Ripen of 1460 , according to which the duchies should remain “ up forever undivided” (forever undivided), and also to the constitutional separation of kingdom and duchy, which has also lasted for centuries. In addition, Duke Christian August of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg emphasized his inheritance claims to the duchies.

Shares in the number of residents

The constitutional situation was as follows: Unlike Holstein, the Duchy of Schleswig was a Danish fiefdom and thus neither part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation nor part of the German Confederation established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 . In his capacity as Duke of Holstein, the King of Denmark was also represented in the highest organ of this confederation, the Frankfurt Federal Assembly. This was possible for foreign heads of state, provided that they ruled over territories within the federal territory.


In his open letter of July 8, 1846, the Danish King Christian VIII had tried to abolish the order of succession , through which, after the expected extinction of the male line in the kingdom, the female line, in Holstein the male line of the so-called younger royal line ( Augustenburger line ) had to come to power. In this way he wanted to prevent the collapse of the entire Danish state, but by doing so he had caused great excitement in the duchies. The king died on January 20, 1848; his son Friedrich VII tried in vain to find a compromise between (Eider) Danish and Schleswig-Holstein interests. The slow escalation came to a head after the events of February and March.

After the February Revolution in Paris in 1848 , political unrest broke out across Europe, and the March Revolution broke out in many German states . Events also rolled over in the entire Danish state . Since the new King Frederick VII had little interest in running the business of government himself, he allowed the drafting of a future Danish constitution . The initiative for this had already been initiated by his father. The position of the duchies played an important role. The German-minded Schleswig-Holsteiners feared that the opposition Eider-Danish line would prevail in parliament. Had the latter gained the upper hand, the incorporation of Schleswig into the kingdom would have been the feared consequence. The desired unity of the duchies would have been made impossible; on the other hand, Schleswig's independent position would have been ended. Since the existing personal union with Denmark was in question, the German-minded Schleswig-Holsteiners also wanted the creation of an independent German federal state Schleswig-Holstein that was completely independent of Denmark.

Start of the war

Memory (1898)

On March 18, 1848, German-minded representatives of the state assemblies of Schleswig and Holstein decided in Rendsburg to send a deputation to the king (Friedrich VII.) With the ultimate demand for a free constitution. This should include the admission of Schleswig into the German Confederation and the formation of a Schleswig-Holstein people's army under the leadership of its own officers. These demands would have practically separated Schleswig-Holstein from Denmark, only the king would have remained a common one.

On March 20th, a large public meeting in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen interpreted the news as a riot had broken out in the duchies. Faced with this threat, the assembly decided to ask the king to appoint a more capable government. The next day, 15,000–20,000 citizens gathered and went to the castle, where the king announced that he had already dismissed the ministers on the recommendation of his secret state minister. Several national liberal oaths were represented in the new cabinet .

On March 23, the rumor spread in Kiel that the king was incapable of acting and "in the hands of the mob ". Both the revolutions in Vienna and Berlin that had taken place a few days earlier and the widely known political indifference of the king, who had only been in power for two months, contributed to this interpretation . A group of Schleswig-Holstein-minded celebrities seized the opportunity and formed a provisional government on March 24th , which was supposed to act on behalf of their allegedly unfree sovereign, the king. The next morning a proclamation went out, which demanded the unification of Schleswig and Holstein, but did not want to annul the personal union with the Kingdom of Denmark; the task of the provisional government is to defend the two duchies and the king against the alleged assault that had taken place. The non-revolutionary emphasis contributed to the fact that almost all state officials and cities of the duchies recognized the provisional government as legitimate in the near future.

Course of war


Capture of the Rendsburg Fortress
Memorial stone for the fallen soldiers of the Schleswig-Holstein Army in Friedrichstadt

The self-proclaimed Kiel government expected the Copenhagen government to respond with force. The Rendsburg Fortress was the strategic hub in the duchies. Therefore, the first thing to do was to get this fortress into Schleswig-Holstein hands. On the morning of March 24th, a special train drove from Kiel to Rendsburg with the soldiers of the Kiel garrison and 50 volunteers under the command of the provisional Minister of War Prince Friedrich von Noer (brother of the Duke of Augustenburg ). By ringing the fire bell it was possible to lure the soldiers of the garrison out of the fortress unarmed . Officers were allowed to retreat freely while almost all soldiers joined the riot. In the following days, most of the soldiers and NCOs stationed in Schleswig, as well as 65 officers, went into the Schleswig-Holstein service, while 94 officers refused to break their oath of allegiance to the king.

After Rendsburg was taken by surprise, the Schleswig-Holstein units advanced north, but were repulsed in the battle of Bau not far from Flensburg on April 9th. Their remains fled back to the Rendsburg Fortress, but from then on received support from Prussian troops who acted on behalf of the German Confederation. Rendsburg became the seat of the Provisional Government for a few months .

In the country, Prussian troops under Field Marshal Friedrich von Wrangel , supported by Schleswig-Holstein units, penetrated Denmark in May 1848; however, through the influence of England , France and Russia , the Malmö armistice was enforced.

During the war with Denmark, the Schleswig-Holsteiners and their allies felt the lack of naval forces. The strong Danish fleet dominated the theater of war. Due to a Danish sea blockade, North German sea ​​trade came to a standstill within a few days . The Frankfurt National Assembly , which met on May 18, 1848, decided on June 14 to set up a German imperial fleet and provide 6 million Reichsthaler for it. This decision is considered the date of birth of a national German navy. A small fleet was also built in the rebellious Schleswig-Holstein .


The Schleswig-Holstein troops march back (1849)
The Schleswig-Holstein hunters return to Altona in 1849, lithograph by the Suhr brothers

After Denmark canceled the Malmö armistice on February 22nd, the war flared up again in April 1849. The provisional central power , the all-German government, set up a governor government in March 1849 . Once again the central authority carried on the war, with the execution primarily in Prussian hands. The princes of Thuringia also stood out. After the battle led by Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha at Eckernförde on April 5, 1849, the battles at Kolding on April 20 and 23, 1849, the advance to Denmark took place (including Grand Duke Carl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar- Eisenach ) until the siege of Fredericia from May to June 1849. Under pressure from Great Britain and Russia, Prussia concluded an armistice on July 10, 1849, and a separate peace with Denmark on July 2, 1850 on behalf of the German Confederation . The Peace of Berlin followed on July 10, 1850 . While Holstein continued to be governed by the Lieutenancy, Schleswig was under the administration of a joint government consisting of a Danish, Prussian and British representative.


Appeal of the governorship to the Schleswig-Holsteiner from 1851

After Prussia and the German Confederation left the war, the Schleswig-Holsteiners were on their own. In the battle of Idstedt on July 24th and 25th, 1850, the Schleswig-Holsteiners suffered a defeat. There was a battle between 36,000 Danish and 26,000 Schleswig-Holstein soldiers. The loss (injured and dead) amounted to 3798 Danish and 2828 Schleswig-Holstein soldiers. A total of 1200 dead remained on the battlefield. The Danish troops had all of Schleswig under their control again. In October 1850, the Schleswig-Holsteiners undertook one last attack on Friedrichstadt . It turned into a fiasco for them, the small town - a place of religious tolerance since it was founded in 1622 - was destroyed. Schleswig finally remained under Danish control and was administered by an extraordinary government commissioner. Holstein was pacified by Prussian and Austrian federal troops , the Schleswig-Holstein Army was disbanded on April 1, 1851. Many officials and officers of the Schleswig-Holstein government and the military left the country, some emigrated to the United States and Australia.

The London Protocol of May 8, 1852, which guaranteed the continuation of Danish rule over the duchies, but also laid down their independence, was an essential document under international law to end the Schleswig-Holstein War . The signatories were Great Britain , France, Russia, Prussia and Austria. Only then did the Danish state authorities regain control of Holstein and Lauenburg.

War memorial

The member states of the German Confederation donated war memorials for the participants in the Schleswig-Holstein survey:

  1. Kingdom of Bavaria : Campaign memorial 1849
  2. Duchy of Braunschweig : Commemorative Medal for 1848–1849 (Braunschweig)
  3. Frankfurt am Main : War memorials 1848–1849
  4. Hessen-Homburg : Field service mark for the 1849 campaign (Hessen-Homburg)
  5. Mecklenburg-Schwerin : Military Merit Cross (Mecklenburg)
  6. Duchy of Nassau : Medal for the battle near Eckernförde
  7. Grand Duchy of Oldenburg : Commemorative medal for the veterans 1848 and 1849 (Oldenburg)
  8. Kingdom of Prussia : Commemorative coin for combatants 1848–1849
  9. Kingdom of Prussia: Commemorative coin for non-combatants 1848–1849
  10. Reuss older line and Reuss younger line : Memorial cross for Eckernförde
  11. Kingdom of Saxony : Memorial cross for combatants 1849
  12. Kingdom of Saxony : Memorial cross for non-combatants 1849
  13. Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha : Memorial cross for Eckernförde
  14. Duchy of Saxony-Altenburg : Commemorative medal for the 1849 campaign
  15. Schaumburg-Lippe : memorial cross for the 1849 campaign
  16. Waldeck : Campaign Medal (Waldeck) #Feldzugmedaille 1849
  17. Kingdom of Württemberg : War memorial for the campaign in Schleswig-Holstein (1849)


Schleswig-Holstein at the Frankfurt Unity Monument
Honor roll in Davenport
  • As a memorial to the memory of the victory near Idstedt, the Danish sculptor Herman Wilhelm Bissen (1798–1868) created a bronze sculpture known as the Idstedt lion , which was placed on July 25, 1862, the 12th anniversary of the Battle of Idstedt, in the old cemetery in Flensburg was unveiled. The memorial came to Berlin in 1864 and to Copenhagen ( Istedløven ) in 1945 . In September 2011 the figure returned to Flensburg. There has been a copy in Berlin since 1874.
  • Memorial stone of the Schleswig-Holstein comrades in arms, old cemetery (Flensburg) ; 1898 instead of a monument erected in 1849 and removed by the Danish authorities in 1851. A cast of the old monument is attached both to the stone from 1898 and - as a copy - in the Idstedt Hall.
  • Memorial obelisk at the Idstedt Museum
  • Memorial stone, Alter Markt (Kiel) , erected in 2014 to commemorate the proclamation of the Provisional Government (Schleswig-Holstein) on March 24, 1848.
  • Memorial stone in Hohenlockstedt
  • Memorial plaque in Schleswig Cathedral
  • The "Iron Cross", an obelisk, tomb for fallen soldiers of the Schleswig-Holstein army was only in the St. Jürgen cemetery (Kiel) . It has been in the Nordfriedhof (Kiel) since 1955 .
  • Memorial stone for the elevation of Schleswig-Holstein (Blankenese) , comparable monuments can be found in various Holstein communities and districts of Hamburg.
  • Memorial stone in Friedrichstadt
  • Honor column in front of the Anne Frank Community School in Elmshorn
Memorial stone

See also

War veterans on the 60th anniversary on the cover of the Eckernförder Zeitung from March 25, 1908


  • Friedrich Kurd von Alten : The War in Schleswig 1848 . Oldenburg. 1850. Google digitized version of Volume 1
  • Andreas von Bezold: The Schleswig-Holstein survey 1848-1851. In the field of tension between Germany and Denmark . Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-95425-294-7 .
  • Ulrich von der Horst: On the history of the Schleswig-Holstein campaign against the Danes in 1850: the battle of Idstedt on July 24th and 25th. Mittler, Berlin 1852. Google digitized version
  • Klaus-Ulrich Keubke / Ralf Mumm: Mecklenburg troops in Schleswig-Holstein, Baden and during internal unrest in their own country 1848/49 (= writings on the history of Mecklenburg; 28), Schwerin 2012, ISBN 978-3-00-039733-2
  • Alexander Querengässer: The Armed Forces of Schleswig-Holstein in the War of Independence 1848–1850 , Zeughausverlag, Berlin 2015.
  • Martin Rackwitz : March Revolution in Kiel 1848. Revolt against Denmark and the start of democracy . Boyens, Heide 2011. ISBN 978-3-8042-1342-5 .
  • Martin Rackwitz: Dahlmann's greatest challenges: The Schleswig-Holstein question and the constitutional question in the German National Assembly in 1848/49 as reflected in the political caricature , in Utz Schliesky , Wilhelm Knelangen (ed.): Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann . Volume 1 of the series Democracy. Heads. Schleswig-Holstein . Husum 2012, pp. 71-100.
  • Keith AP Sandiford: Great Britain and the Schleswig-Holstein question 1848-64. A study in diplomacy, politics, and public opinion. University of Toronto Press, Toronto et al. 1975, ISBN 0-8020-5334-3 .
  • Jan Schlürmann : The Schleswig-Holstein Army 1848-1851. Der Other Verlag, Tönning 2004, ISBN 3-89959-270-0 .
  • Jens Ahlers : AufBruch & Civil War. Schleswig-Holstein 1848–1851 . Exhibition catalog, Schleswig-Holstein State Library, Kiel 2012.
  • Gerd Stolz: The Schleswig-Holstein elevation. The national conflict in and around Schleswig-Holstein from 1848/51. Idstedt Foundation, Husum 1996, ISBN 3-88042-769-0 .
  • Nick Svendsen: The First Schleswig-Holstein War. 1848-50. Helion & Co., Solihull, West Midlands 2009, ISBN 978-1906033446 .
  • Friedrich von Noer : Records of Prince Friedrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Noer from the years 1848 to 1850 . Verlag von Meyer and Zeller, Zurich 1861. Internet Archive

Web links

Commons : First Schleswig War  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Manfred Jessen-Klingenberg: Survey. In: Schleswig-Holstein from A to Z. Society for Schleswig-Holstein History, accessed on November 17, 2018 .
  2. Treårskrig. Grænseforeningen, accessed February 28, 2015 .
  3. Jann Markus Witt: Schleswig-Holstein from the origins to the present . Ed .: Jann Markus Witt, Heiko Vosgerau. Convent, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-934613-39-X , Peace, Prosperity and Reforms - The Duchies in the Danish State, p. 222-223 .
  4. Casino-mødet, 20 marts 1848 (Grænseforeningen, Danish)
  5. a b ( Memento from February 8, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Jens Ahlers: Memories of the survey: War images, caricatures, symbolism, memorials and celebrations , in: Aufbruch & Civil War - Schleswig-Holstein 1848-1851 . Exhibition catalog, vol. 2. Schleswig-Holstein State Library, Kiel 2012, p. 496
  7. Bavaria (DDB)
  8. Reuss (DDB)
  9. Kiel City Archives: The St. Jürgen Cemetery ( Memento from October 9, 2011 in the Internet Archive )