Reunification celebrated in both zones

Swipe to the left to browse...

Reunification celebrated in both zones

The International Commission controlled the two zones until 15 June 1920.

As from 5 May, Zone 1 was gradually transferred to Danish sovereignty and Zone 2 was correspondingly returned to German rule.

In Denmark, the Reunification was marked by a week of celebrations.

King Christian X signed the assimilation of the Southern Jutland regions into law at a meeting of the Sovereign Council on 9 July and then participated in a popular celebration in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

In the evening, the Danish royal family and government sailed to Southern Jutland, and on the following day the Danish king rode across the now-defunct 1864 border.

This marked the start of the official reunification party at Dybbøl Fortifications on 11 July, which was attended by the Danish royal family, the Danish government and around 50,000 other guests.

Over the next four days, the Danish royal family toured various parts of Southern Jutland, to the acclaim of the local residents.

The biggest celebration in Germany was held on 17 June, when the German troops who had been expelled during the run-up to the referendum returned to Flensburg and received a heroes’ welcome from the town’s citizens, the mayor and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Zone 1 becomes part of Denmark

When the Act of Parliament concerning “… the integration of the regions of Southern Jutland …” came into force on 9 July 1920, a whole week of festivities began. On the very day there was a national celebration at Copenhagen Stadium, attended by representatives of the royal family and the government.

In the evening, the royal family sailed from Copenhagen, arriving in Kolding the following morning. On the morning of 10 July, riding on a white horse and accompanied by a crowd of thousands, King Christian X passed from Northern Jutland into Southern Jutland, symbolising the fact that the earlier border had now been wiped off the map.

The festive procession passed beneath 18 triumphal arches before reaching Christiansfeld, where there was a special service in Tyrstrup Church. Later, in the same festive mood, the King paid official visits to Haderslev and Aabenraa, driving between towns in a car. In the evening there was a gala banquet on board the royal yacht in Aabenraa.

The next day, 11 July, a big celebration was held at the Dybbøl Redoubts – the place where Denmark had suffered a decisive defeat in 1864. The celebration was held in the same redoubt where six years earlier the German Empire had celebrated the 50th anniversary of this victory over Denmark and the conquest of Southern Jutland.

Most of the speakers emphasised that the choice of this place of defeat as a place of celebration helped to link past, present and future together. But the Prime Minister, Niels Neergaard, stressed that there were standing on the threshold of something completely new: “We speak of reunification, but the fact is that throughout our thousand years of history, Southern Jutland has never been part of Denmark. Only now in our age has this happened through the happy choice of the Southern Jutlanders themselves”. In his speech, H. P. Hanssen thanked the allied powers, whose “… wonderful victory has given us our freedom”.

About 50,000 people took part in the celebrations at Dybbøl, starting a tradition for holding Dybbøl celebrations that has continued to the present day. These celebrations were attended by both celebrities and ordinary people, and were characterised by speeches, music and communal singing.

The following day, the King was heading for the western part of Southern Jutland. On the way, he stopped in Kruså to greet Danish-minded people from Flensburg who were assembled there, bearing a placard which read: ‘We live in hope’.

The majority of the population in Tønder were German-minded, but due to the en bloc voting system of the plebiscite, the town was now part of Denmark. However, the King’s visit passed quietly and with dignity. The German Mayor, Oluf Olufsen, requested the government to support the town, which was in a difficult economic situation after the drawing of the new border.

A visit to Schackenborg and the place where the Golden Horns had been found in Gallehus rounded off the King’s journey that day. This was also the end of the official Danish celebrations, but the King remained in the region for some days and drove out to see all the newly-recovered territory.


Zone 2 part of Germany again

The official statement of 15 June 1920 about the new borders marked the end of the International Commission’s mandate. The English troops had quietly left Flensburg in the night between 14 and 15 June, and on 16 June the French troops left for Metz.

The Hotel ‘Flensburger Hof’ had been the headquarters of the CIS for almost five months, and during this period the Allied flags had been flown from the building. When these flags were struck with a guard of honour of French Alpine Hunters and in the presence of the Secretary General, The Flensburgers clapped and shouted “Hurrah”, and the  ‘Schleswig-Holstein-sang’ was sung.

The German Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prussian Minister of the Interior took part in the ceremonies when Zone 2 once more became part of the German Reich, symbolised by the return of German troops on 17 June, with banners swirling and martial music.

The troops were received at Südermarkt, which was decorated with flowers, garlands and banners. The citizens were in their finery, there was a student corps from Kiel, representatives of the town council and of the government in Berlin.

In his speech, the prominent German politician Köster stressed the plebiscite campaign, reiterated the pledge of the German Reich to the loyal Flensburgers, and the importance to the region and to the German Reich as a whole of the native soil movement now once more active in Schleswig-Holstein.

When the troops had entered the barracks, there was a gala banquet with speeches for invited guests. With great ceremony, and in the presence of a large crowd, the German Navy Ensign was hoisted at the Mürwik Naval Academy in the early afternoon.

In the evening there were festivities for everyone at Mariehölsung and Ostseebad till the early hours. In the days that followed, a corps of cleaners went around removing the last notices and ordinances of the plebiscite period from houses, fences and viaducts.

From being a player on the international stage, Flensburg now became a grey backwater; a commercially stagnant border town in a Germany which lay in economic ruin.

Here, as in the rest of the plebiscite area, the population had to face the fact that the coming period would be one of hardship. In addition, Danes and Germans were once more forced to work out how they could live together in peace.


Celebrations in North Schleswig

A film showing reunification celebrations on 10-13 July 1920.


Reunification celebrations in Copenhagen

A film showing celebrations in Copenhagen on 9 July 1920