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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 / 54.47000°N 9.51389°E / 54.47000; 9.51389
 • Minister-PresidentTorsten Albig (SPD)
 • Governing partiesSPD / Greens / SSW
 • Votes in Bundesrat4 (of 69)
 • Total15,763.18 km2 (6,086.20 sq mi)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total2,815,955
 • Density180/km2 (460/sq mi)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 codeDE-SH
Vehicle registrationformerly: S (1945–1947), SH (1947), BS (1948–1956)[2]
GDP/ Nominal€75.63 billion (2010) [3]
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This article is about current German state and its historic antecedents. For the Prussian province (1868–1945), see Province of Schleswig-Holstein. For the warship, see SMS Schleswig-Holstein.
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 / 54.47000°N 9.51389°E / 54.47000; 9.51389
 • Minister-PresidentTorsten Albig (SPD)
 • Governing partiesSPD / Greens / SSW
 • Votes in Bundesrat4 (of 69)
 • Total15,763.18 km2 (6,086.20 sq mi)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total2,815,955
 • Density180/km2 (460/sq mi)
Time zoneCET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST)CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 codeDE-SH
Vehicle registrationformerly: S (1945–1947), SH (1947), BS (1948–1956)[2]
GDP/ Nominal€75.63 billion (2010) [3]

Schleswig-Holstein (German: [ˈʃleːsvɪç ˈhɔlʃtaɪ̯n] ( )) is the northernmost of the sixteen 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, Flensburg and Neumünster.

The former English name was 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 Elbe river, Tedmarsgoi, Holstein, and Sturmarii. The area of the Holstein 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 takes its name from the city of Schleswig. The name derives from the Schlei inlet in the east and vik meaning inlet or settlement in Old Saxon and Old Norse. The name is similar to the place-names ending in the "-wick" or "-wich" element along the coast in the United Kingdom.

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.

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.

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-Holstein receive 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 King Frederick VII of Denmark 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.

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.

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 (the Commission Internationale de Surveillance du Plébiscite au Slesvig), which designated three election zones to cover the northern, central and southern parts of Schleswig. The prevailing vote in an entire zone was to decide the outcome, even if voters in a single Kreis (district) or city voted differently. In Northern Schleswig (10 February 1920) 75% voted for reunification with Denmark and 25% voted for Germany. In central Schleswig (14 March 1920) the results were reversed; 80% voted for Germany and just 20% for Denmark, primarily in Flensburg. No plebiscite was ever held in Zone III (southern Schleswig), as Denmark waived an election in this zone.[4]

Results of the 1920 plebiscites in North and Central Schleswig (Slesvig)
ElectorateGerman nameDanish nameFor GermanyFor Denmark
Zone I (Northern Schleswig), 10 February 192025.1 %25,32974.9 %75,431
District ofHaderslebenHaderslev16.0%6,58584.0%34,653
Town ofHaderslebenHaderslev38.6%3,27561.4%5,209
District ofApenradeAabenraa32.3%6,03067.7%12,653
Town ofApenradeAabenraa55.1%2,72544.9%2,224
District ofSonderburgSønderborg22.9%5,08377.1%17,100
Town ofSonderburgSønderborg56.2%2,60143.8 %2,029
Town ofAugustenburgAugustenborg48.0%23652.0%256
Northern part of District ofTondernTønder40.9%7,08359.1%10,223
Town ofTondernTønder76.5%2,44823.5%750
Town ofHoyerHøjer72.6%58127.4%219
Town ofLügumklosterLøgumkloster48.8%51651.2%542
Northern part of District ofFlensburgFlensborg40.6%54859.4%802
Zone II (Central Schleswig), 14 March 192080.2 %51,74219.8 %12,800
Southern part of District ofTondernTønder87.9%17,28312.1%2,376
Southern part of District ofFlensburgFlensborg82.6%6,68817.4%1,405
Town ofFlensburgFlensborg75.2%27,08124.8%8,944
Northern part of District ofHusumHusum90.0%67210.0%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[5]), the 711-year-long independence of the Hansestadt Lübeck came to an end, and almost all its territory was incorporated into Schleswig-Holstein.

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.[6]

Because of the forced migrations of Germans in 1944 to 1950, the population of Schleswig-Holstein increased by 33 percent (860,000 people).[7]



Schleswig-Holstein lies on the base of Jutland Peninsula between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Strictly speaking, "Schleswig" refers to the German Southern Schleswig (German: Südschleswig or Landesteil Schleswig, Danish: Sydslesvig), whereas Northern Schleswig is in Denmark (South Jutland County). The state of Schleswig-Holstein further consists of Holstein as well as Lauenburg and the formerly independent city of Lübeck.

Schleswig-Holstein borders Denmark (Region of Southern Denmark) to the north, the North Sea to the west, the Baltic Sea to the east, and the German states of Lower Saxony, Hamburg, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to the south.

In the western part of the state, there are lowlands with virtually no hills. The North Frisian Islands, as well as almost all of Schleswig-Holstein's North Sea coast, form the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park (Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer) which is the largest national park in Central Europe. Germany's only high-sea island, Heligoland, is situated in the North Sea.

The Baltic Sea coast in the east of Schleswig-Holstein is marked by bays, fjords and cliff lines. There are rolling hills (the highest elevation is the Bungsberg at 168 metres or 551 feet) and many lakes, especially in the eastern part of Holstein called the Holstein Switzerland and the former Duchy of Lauenburg (Herzogtum Lauenburg). Fehmarn is the only island off the eastern coast. The longest river besides the Elbe is the Eider; the most important waterway is the Kiel Canal which connects the North Sea and Baltic Sea.


Schleswig-Holstein is divided into 11 Kreise (districts):


Furthermore, there are four separate urban districts:

  1. KI   - Kiel
  2. HL   - Hansestadt ("Hanseatic town") Lübeck
  3. NMS - Neumünster
  4. FL   - Flensburg



Religion in Schleswig-Holstein - 2011
Roman Catholics
Other or none

The region has been strongly Protestant since the time of the Protestant Reformation. Today, members of the Evangelical Church in Germany make up 53% of the population, while members of the Catholic Church comprise 6%.[8] 41% of the population is irreligious or adherent of other religions.


Shared with the Danish neighbour: Rødgrød served in Schleswig-Holstein with milk or custard

Schleswig-Holstein combines Danish and German aspects of culture. The castles and manors in the countryside are the best example for this tradition; some dishes like Rødgrød (German: Rote Grütze, literal English "red grits" or "red groats") are also shared, as well as surnames such as Hansen.

The most important festivals are the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, an annual classic music festival all over the state, and the Lübeck Nordic Film Days, an annual film festival for movies from Scandinavian countries, held in Lübeck.

The annual Wacken Open Air festival is considered to be the largest heavy metal rock festival in the world.

The state's most important museum of cultural history is in Gottorf Castle in Schleswig.

The Wagnerian tenor Klaus Florian Vogt is from Schleswig - Holstein.


The coat of arms shows the symbols of the two duchies united in Schleswig-Holstein, i.e., the two lions for Schleswig and the leaf of a nettle for Holstein. Supposedly, Otto von Bismarck decreed that the two lions were to face the nettle because of the discomfort to their bottoms which would have resulted if the lions faced away from it.

The motto of Schleswig-Holstein is "Up ewich ungedeelt" (Middle Low German: "Forever undivided", modern High German: "Auf ewig ungeteilt"). It goes back to the Vertrag von Ripen or Handfeste von Ripen (Danish: Ribe Håndfæstning) or Treaty of Ribe in 1460. Ripen (Ribe) is a historical small town at the North Sea coast in Northern Schleswig. See History of Schleswig-Holstein.

The anthem from 1844 is called "Wanke nicht, mein Vaterland" ("Don't falter, my fatherland"), but it is usually referred to with its first line "Schleswig-Holstein meerumschlungen" (i.e., "Schleswig-Holstein embraced by the seas") or "Schleswig-Holstein-Lied" (Schleswig-Holstein song).

The old city of Lübeck is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Helgoland island in the North Sea

German is the official language. Low German, Danish, and North Frisian enjoy legal protection or state promotion.

Historically, Low German, Danish (in Schleswig), and Frisian (in Schleswig) were spoken. Low German is still used in many parts of the state, and a pidgin of Low and standardised German (Missingsch) is used in most areas. Danish is used by the Danish minority in Southern Schleswig, and Frisian is spoken by the North Frisians of the North Sea Coast and the Northern Frisian Islands in Southern Schleswig. The North Frisian dialect called Heligolandic (Halunder) is spoken on the island of Heligoland.

High German was introduced in the 16th century, mainly for official purposes, but is today the predominant language.


Compulsory education starts for children who are six years old on 30 June.[9] All children attend a "Grundschule", which is Germany's equivalent to primary school, for the first 4 years and then move on to a secondary school.[9] In Schleswig-Holstein there are "Gemeinschaftsschulen", which is a new type comprehensive school, as well as regional schools, which go by the German name "Regionalschule".[9] The option of a Gymnasium is still available.[9]

There are three universities in Kiel, Lübeck and Flensburg.[10] Also, there are four public Universities of Applied Sciences in Flensburg, Heide, Kiel, and Lübeck.[10] There is the Conservatory in Lübeck and the Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts in Kiel. There are also three private institutions of higher learning.[10]


Schleswig-Holstein has its own parliament and government which are located in the state capital Kiel.[11] The Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein is elected by the Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein.[11]

Current executive branch[edit]

Minister-PresidentTorsten AlbigSPD[12]
Minister of Education and ScienceWaltraud WendeInd[12]
Minister of Energy Transition, Environment, Agriculture and Rural DistrictsRobert HabeckGreens[12]
Minister of FinancesMonika HeinoldGreens[12]
Minister of InteriorAndreas BreitnerSPD[12]
Minister of Justice, Europe and CultureAnke SpoorendonkSSW[12]

Recent elections[edit]

The most recent Schleswig-Holstein state election was held on 6 May 2012. Since June 2012, after government negotiations, the state has been ruled by the so-called "Dänen-Ampel" (Danish Traffic Light) or "red-green-blue" coalition consisting of the Social Democrats, the Green Party and the South Schleswig Voter Federation (SSW). The Minister-President is Torsten Albig from the SPD. The government has a narrow majority with 35 of 69 seats in the state parliament.

Before the 2012 election, Peter Harry Carstensen from the CDU was the Minister-President in a coalition consisting of his own party, the CDU, and the liberal FDP.

Political PartyVotes %+/-Seats
Christian Democratic Union (Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands)30.8-0.822
Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)30.4+5.022
Alliance '90/The Greens (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen)13.2+0.710
Free Democratic Party of Germany (Freie Demokratische Partei)8.2-6.76
Pirate Party Germany (Piratenpartei Deutschland)8.2+6.46
South Schleswig Voter Federation (Südschleswigscher Wählerverband)4.6+0.33
The Left (Die Linke)2.2-3.7-
Other parties2.4-1.1-

List of Minister-Presidents of Schleswig-Holstein[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Statistikamt Nord – Bevölkerung der Gemeinden in Schleswig-Holstein 4. Quartal 2013] (XLS-Datei) (Fortschreibung auf Basis des Zensus 2011)". Statistisches Amt für Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein (in German). 25 July 2013. 
  2. ^ By the federal vehicle registration reform of 1 July 1956 distinct prefixes were given for every district.
  3. ^ "Schleswig-Holstein: Schleswig-Holstein Portal". Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  4. ^ Schwedler, Frank: Historischer Atlas Schleswig-Holstein 1867 bis 1945, Wachholtz Verlag, Neumünster
  5. ^ "Lübeck: The town that said no to Hitler", Simon Heffer,, Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  6. ^ Ordinance No. 46, Abolition of the Provinces in the British Zone of the Former State of Prussia and Reconstitution thereof as Separate Länder PDF (218 KB)
  7. ^ Flucht und Vertreibung at Haus der Geschichte (German)
  8. ^ EKD statistics 2007
  9. ^ a b c d "Education in Schleswig-Holstein". State of Schleswig-Holstein. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c "Institutions of Higher Education in Schleswig-Holstein". State of Schleswig-Holstein. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Responsibilities of the Government". State of Schleswig-Holstein. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g of Schleswig-Holstein "Die Minister - Das Kabinett" (in German). Retrieved 7 August 2012. 

External links[edit]