State of Germany
Flag of Schleswig-Holstein
Coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein
Coat of arms
Deutschland Lage von Schleswig-Holstein.svg
Coordinates: 54°28′12″N 9°30′50″E / 54°28′12″N 9°30′50″E / 54.47000; 9.51389
Country Germany
Capital Kiel
 • Body Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein
 •  Minister-President Daniel Günther ( CDU)
 • Governing parties CDU / Greens / FDP
 •  Bundesrat votes 4 (of 69)
 • Total 15,763.18 km2 (6,086.20 sq mi)
Population (2016-12-31) [1]
 • Total 2,881,926
 • Density 180/km2 (470/sq mi)
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 • Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code DE-SH
Vehicle registration formerly: S (1945–1947), SH (1947), BS (1948–1956) [2]
GDP/ Nominal €86 billion (2015) [3]
GDP per capita €30,000 (2015)

Schleswig-Holstein (German: [ˈʃleːsvɪç ˈhɔlʃtaɪ̯n]; Danish: Slesvig-Holsten) is the northernmost of the 16 states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig. Its capital city is Kiel; other notable cities are Lübeck and Flensburg.

Also known in more dated English as Sleswick-Holsatia, the Danish name is Slesvig-Holsten, the Low German name is Sleswig-Holsteen, and the North Frisian name is Slaswik-Holstiinj. Historically, the name can also refer to a larger region, containing both present-day Schleswig-Holstein and the former South Jutland County (Northern Schleswig) in Denmark.


The historic settlement areas in present-day Schleswig-Holstein
The Limes Saxoniae border between the Saxons and the Obotrites, established about 810 in present-day Schleswig-Holstein
Kiel is the state's capital and largest city.
The city of Lübeck was the centre of the Hanse, and its city centre is a World Heritage Site today. Lübeck is the birthplace of the author Thomas Mann.
World Heritage Site German Wadden Sea
A rapeseed field in Schleswig-Holstein — agriculture continues to play an important role in parts of the state.
Schleswig-Holstein's islands, beaches, and cities are popular tourist attractions (here: Isle of Sylt).

The term "Holstein" derives from Old Saxon Holseta Land, (Holz and Holt mean wood in modern Standardised German and in literary English, respectively). Originally, it referred to the central of the three Saxon tribes north of the River Elbe: Tedmarsgoi ( Dithmarschen), Holstein and Sturmarii ( Stormarn). The area of the tribe of the Holsts was between the Stör River and Hamburg, and after Christianization, their main church was in Schenefeld. Saxon Holstein became a part of the Holy Roman Empire after Charlemagne's Saxon campaigns in the late eighth century. Since 811, the northern frontier of Holstein (and thus the Empire) was marked by the River Eider.

The term Schleswig comes from the city of Schleswig. The name derives from the Schlei inlet in the east and vik meaning inlet in Old Norse or settlement in Old Saxon, and linguistically identical ( cognate) with the "-wick" or "-wich" element in place-names in Britain.

The Duchy of Schleswig or Southern Jutland was originally an integral part of Denmark, but was in medieval times established as a fief under the Kingdom of Denmark, with the same relation to the Danish Crown as for example Brandenburg or Bavaria vis-à-vis the Holy Roman Emperor. Around 1100, the Duke of Saxony gave Holstein, as it was his own country, to Count Adolf I of Schauenburg.

Duchies in the Danish realm

Schleswig and Holstein have at different times belonged in part or completely to either Denmark or Germany, or have been virtually independent of both nations. The exception is that Schleswig had never been part of Germany until the Second Schleswig War in 1864. For many centuries, the King of Denmark was both a Danish Duke of Schleswig and a German Duke of Holstein. Essentially, Schleswig was either integrated into Denmark or was a Danish fief, and Holstein was a German fief and once a sovereign state long ago. Both were for several centuries ruled by the kings of Denmark. In 1721, all of Schleswig was united as a single duchy under the king of Denmark, and the great powers of Europe confirmed in an international treaty that all future kings of Denmark should automatically become dukes of Schleswig, and consequently Schleswig would always follow the same order of succession as the one chosen in the Kingdom of Denmark. In the church, following the reformation, German was used in the southern part of Schleswig and Danish in the northern part. This would later prove decisive for shaping national sentiments in the population, as well as after 1814 when mandatory school education was introduced. The administration of both duchies was conducted in German, despite the fact that they were governed from Copenhagen (from 1523 by the German Chancellary which was in 1806 renamed Schleswig-Holstein Chancellary). [5]

Schleswig-Holstein Question

The German national awakening that followed the Napoleonic Wars gave rise to a strong popular movement in Holstein and Southern Schleswig for unification with a new Prussian-dominated Germany. This development was paralleled by an equally strong Danish national awakening in Denmark and Northern Schleswig. This movement called for the complete reintegration of Schleswig into the Kingdom of Denmark and demanded an end to discrimination against Danes in Schleswig. The ensuing conflict is sometimes called the Schleswig-Holstein Question. In 1848, King Frederick VII of Denmark declared that he would grant Denmark a liberal constitution and the immediate goal for the Danish national movement was to ensure that this constitution would not only give rights to all Danes, i.e., not only in the Kingdom of Denmark, but also to Danes (and Germans) living in Schleswig. Furthermore, they demanded protection for the Danish language in Schleswig (the dominant language in almost a quarter of Schleswig had changed from Danish to German since the beginning of the 19th century).

A liberal constitution for Holstein was not seriously considered in Copenhagen, since it was well known that the political élite of Holstein were more conservative than Copenhagen's. Representatives of German-minded Schleswig-Holsteiners demanded that Schleswig and Holstein be unified and allowed its own constitution and that Schleswig join Holstein as a member of the German Confederation. These demands were rejected by the Danish government in 1848, and the Germans of Holstein and southern Schleswig rebelled. This began the First Schleswig War (1848–51), which ended in a Danish victory at Idstedt.

In 1863, conflict broke out again when Frederick VII died without legitimate issue. According to the order of succession of Denmark and Schleswig, the crowns of both Denmark and Schleswig would pass to Duke Christian of Glücksburg, who became Christian IX. The transmission of the duchy of Holstein to the head of the (German-oriented) branch of the Danish royal family, the House of Augustenborg, was more controversial. The separation of the two duchies was challenged by the Augustenborg heir, who claimed, as in 1848, to be rightful heir of both Schleswig and Holstein. The promulgation of a common constitution for Denmark and Schleswig in November 1863 prompted Otto von Bismarck to intervene and Prussia and Austria declared war on Denmark. This was the Second War of Schleswig, which ended in Danish defeat. British attempts to mediate in the London Conference of 1864 failed, and Denmark lost Schleswig (Northern and Southern Schleswig), Holstein, and Lauenburg to Prussia and Austria.

Province of Prussia

Contrary to the hopes of German Schleswig-Holsteiners, the area did not gain its independence, but was annexed as a province of Prussia in 1867. Also following the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, section five of the Peace of Prague stipulated that the people of Northern Schleswig would be consulted in a referendum on whether to remain under Prussian rule or return to Danish rule. This condition, however, was never fulfilled by Prussia. During the decades of Prussian rule within the German Empire, authorities attempted a germanization policy in the northern part of Schleswig, which remained predominantly Danish. The period also meant increased industrialisation of Schleswig-Holstein and the use of Kiel and Flensburg as important Imperial German Navy locations. The northernmost part and west coast of the province saw a wave of emigration to America, while some Danes of North Schleswig emigrated to Denmark.

Plebiscite in 1920

Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, the Allied powers arranged a plebiscite in northern and central Schleswig. The plebiscite was conducted under the auspices of an international commission which designated two voting zones to cover the northern and south-central parts of Schleswig. Steps were taken to also create a third zone covering a southern area, but zone III was cancelled again and never voted, as the Danish government asked the commission not to expand the plebiscite to this area.

In zone I covering Northern Schleswig (10 February 1920), 75% voted for reunification with Denmark and 25% voted for Germany. In zone II covering central Schleswig (14 March 1920), the results were reversed; 80% voted for Germany and just 20% for Denmark. Only minor areas on the island of Föhr showed a Danish majority, and the rest of the Danish vote was primarily in the town of Flensburg. [6]

Results of the 1920 plebiscites in North and Central Schleswig (Slesvig)
Electorate German name Danish name For Germany For Denmark
percent votes percent votes
Zone I (Northern Schleswig), 10 February 1920 25.1 % 25,329 74.9 % 75,431
District of Hadersleben Haderslev 16.0% 6,585 84.0% 34,653
Town of Hadersleben Haderslev 38.6% 3,275 61.4% 5,209
District of Apenrade Aabenraa 32.3% 6,030 67.7% 12,653
Town of Apenrade Aabenraa 55.1% 2,725 44.9% 2,224
District of Sonderburg Sønderborg 22.9% 5,083 77.1% 17,100
Town of Sonderburg Sønderborg 56.2% 2,601 43.8% 2,029
Town of Augustenburg Augustenborg 48.0% 236 52.0% 256
Northern part of District of Tondern Tønder 40.9% 7,083 59.1% 10,223
Town of Tondern Tønder 76.5% 2,448 23.5% 750
Town of Hoyer Højer 72.6% 581 27.4% 219
Town of Lügumkloster Løgumkloster 48.8% 516 51.2% 542
Northern part of District of Flensburg Flensborg 40.6% 548 59.4% 802
Zone II (Central Schleswig), 14 March 1920 80.2 % 51,742 19.8 % 12,800
Southern part of District of Tondern Tønder 87.9% 17,283 12.1% 2,376
Southern part of District of Flensburg Flensborg 82.6% 6,688 17.4% 1,405
Town of Flensburg Flensborg 75.2% 27,081 24.8% 8,944
Northern part of District of Husum Husum 90.0% 672 10.0% 75

On 15 June 1920, Northern Schleswig officially returned to Danish rule. The Danish/German border was the only one of the borders imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I which was never challenged by Adolf Hitler.

In 1937, the Nazis passed the so-called Greater Hamburg Act (Groß-Hamburg-Gesetz), where the nearby Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg was expanded, to encompass towns that had formally belonged to the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. To compensate Prussia for these losses (and partly because Hitler had a personal dislike for Lübeck [7]), the 711-year-long independence of the Hansestadt Lübeck came to an end, and almost all its territory was incorporated into Schleswig-Holstein.

State of Federal Germany

After World War II, the Prussian province Schleswig-Holstein came under British occupation. On 23 August 1946, the military government abolished the province and reconstituted it as a separate Land. [8]

Because of the forced migrations of Germans in 1944 to 1950, the population of Schleswig-Holstein increased by 33% (860,000 people). [9] A pro-Danish political movement arose in Schleswig, with transfer of the area to Denmark as an ultimate goal. This was neither supported by the British occupation administration nor the Danish government. In 1955, the German and Danish governments issued the Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations confirming the rights of the ethnic minorities on both sides of the border. Conditions between the nationalities have since been stable and generally respectful.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Schleswig-Holstein
Avañe'ẽ: Schleswig-Holstein
azərbaycanca: Şlezviq-Holşteyn
Bân-lâm-gú: Schleswig-Holstein
беларуская: Шлезвіг-Гольштэйн
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Шлезьвіг-Гальштайн
български: Шлезвиг-Холщайн
davvisámegiella: Schleswig-Holstein
dolnoserbski: Šleswig-Holštejnska
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Schleswig-Holstein
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Schleswig-Holstein
Bahasa Indonesia: Schleswig-Holstein
interlingua: Schleswig-Holstein
Kapampangan: Schleswig-Holstein
Lëtzebuergesch: Schleswig-Holstein
македонски: Шлезвиг-Холштајн
Bahasa Melayu: Schleswig-Holstein
Nederlands: Sleeswijk-Holstein
Nedersaksies: Sleeswiek-Holstain
Nordfriisk: Schleswig-Holstian
norsk nynorsk: Schleswig-Holstein
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Schleswig-Holstein
Papiamentu: Schleswig-Holstein
Piemontèis: Schleswig-Holstein
Plattdüütsch: Sleswig-Holsteen
português: Schleswig-Holstein
Qaraqalpaqsha: Schleswig-Holstein
Simple English: Schleswig-Holstein
slovenščina: Schleswig-Holstein
српски / srpski: Шлезвиг-Холштајн
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Schleswig-Holstein
українська: Шлезвіг-Гольштейн
Tiếng Việt: Schleswig-Holstein
West-Vlams: Sleeswyk-Holstein