Why is Denmark so rich

The Germans and the Danes

The relationship is not unclouded from the Danish side. The Dannebrog, the Danish flag, is hoisted in every place in Denmark. But German flags on Danish sandcastles still cause discomfort among many Danes to this day. The reason for this lies in history.

The two wars for Schleswig-Holstein

In the middle of the 19th century there were two wars for the border duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. In the first (1848-1851) the German national-liberal movement there initially fought against the Kingdom of Denmark together with many states of the German Confederation - above all Austria and Prussia.

After the German Confederation left the war, the Schleswig-Holsteiners lost in the battle of Idstedt against the Danes. The duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg remained under Danish sovereignty.

In the second Schleswig-Holstein War, also known as the German-Danish War of 1864, the Kingdom of Denmark and the German Confederation under Bismarck fought again for Schleswig-Holstein.

The decisive battle took place in April 1864 at the Düppeler Schanzen, in which the Prussians and Austrians overpowered the Danish troops.

After the Danish defeat, the new border line should first be redrawn along the language border. But Denmark did not agree with that. In the further course of the war, however, the room for maneuver for the Danes worsened.

Finally Schleswig-Holstein was divided between Prussia and Austria, in 1866 it was only under Prussian rule. To this day, the battle at the Düppeler Schanzen is part of Denmark's national memory.

The First World War and its consequences

After the First World War, the dice could be rerolled. In the Versailles Treaty, a referendum for southern and northern Schleswig according to the wishes of Denmark was agreed, which also took place in 1920.

While the North Schleswig people decided to belong to Denmark, the South Schleswig people voted for the German Empire. The border was moved south in favor of Denmark, so that the area north of Flensburg belonged to the kingdom again.

Occupation by the National Socialists

In 1940 the German Wehrmacht invaded Denmark. The years up to the liberation in 1945 are very important for the Danes to this day, because they establish another building block in their national feeling. During this period, the Danes showed a great deal of courage and resistance to the occupiers, especially in autumn 1943.

Interestingly, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, marine attaché at the German Embassy in Copenhagen, informed Danish Social Democrats and trade unionists that the deportation of around 7,500 Danish Jews was imminent.

In an unprecedented operation, the Danish population hid all the Jews in small ships and boats and brought them to neutral Sweden in a night and fog operation.

The National Socialists were only able to capture around 400 Jews and bring them to Theresienstadt. For several years, however, Danish historians have been discussing that there was also a collaboration with the National Socialists. Nevertheless, the rescue of the Jews is firmly anchored in Danish national pride.

Bonn-Copenhagen Declarations of 1955

The demarcation after the referendum in 1920 created minorities on both sides. It was not until 1955, in the course of the Federal Republic's admission procedure to NATO, that the governments on both sides committed themselves to finding a solution to the tensions that had been simmering until then.

At the end of March 1955, the governments in Bonn and Copenhagen each signed declarations to strengthen minority rights equally on both sides.

The main focus of the regulations was the exam rights for the schools of the other minority. In Germany, the threshold clause of 5 percent has also been lifted for the party of the Danish minority.

The South Schleswig Voters' Association (SSW) hit the headlines in 2005 when it almost tipped the scales in the state elections. The party was supposed to secure the majority for the then SPD Prime Minister Heide Simonis, even though the CDU was actually ahead.

Heide Simonis then failed because of her own people who refused to follow her. Despite the discussion at the time that a small minority could become "kingmakers", nothing has been changed in the regulation.

Danish national monuments in Germany

The eventful history has also led to curiosities. One of the most important Danish memorials is located on German soil of all places: the Danewerk, a medieval fortification structure from the Viking Age.

Part of the Danewerk is a brick wall from the 12th century, the Waldemars wall. It is the oldest brick building in Northern Europe.

This monument, together with the Viking settlement Haithabu an der Schlei, which is also in Schleswig-Holstein, is to be placed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The state of Schleswig-Holstein is making the application together with other "Viking nations" such as Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, who also want to put Viking sites under protection.

Another example is the Idstedt lion. It is practically the symbol of the changeable relationship between the Germans and the Danes. In 1862 it was erected in the then Danish Flensburg on the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the victory of the Danes over the Germans in the Battle of Idstedt in the old cemetery.

But only two years later, in 1864, after the German Confederation had triumphed over Denmark, the new rulers toppled the lion from its pedestal. He was brought to Berlin, where he stood until after the end of the Second World War.

After 1945 Denmark wanted its lion back and so it was transported to Copenhagen. But the odyssey is not over yet. In 2011 it was set up again at its place of origin in Flensburg, i.e. on German soil. This time not as a sign of victory, but of reconciliation.

SWR | Status: 07/23/2019, 11:37 am