Kiel - an historical abstract

Kiel is the capital of today´s German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Where the Baltic Sea forms the  Bay of Kiel (Kieler Bucht) and then in its narrower southern part the Kiel Fjord (Kieler Förde), the town is situated at the western sea shore. The old city lies there on a small peninsula,  for three quarters surrounded by water.

The city was founded by the counts of Schauenburg in 1242 and the citizens´ privileges mainly consisted in the right to held market. In the beginning there lived 1.200 to 1.500 inhabitants in 300 houses. Only part of them - during the Middle Ages not more than 350 - were citizens (burgers). From the beginning the city was dominated in architecture by the Market Church St. Nicholas, the Cloister of Saint Francis and the City-Castle. (Images see on the German page Stadtbild und Gebäude.)

1283 Kiel became member of the Hanse, 1526/27 Reformation started in the city, 1665 the university was inaugurated and 1844 the railway between Kiel and the Danish Altona (neighbour town to Hamburg) was opened. Kiel´s  population grew continuously and in 1835 reached  11.622, i.e. in comparison to the middle of 18th century it had doubled.

Between 1830 and 1835 Wilhelm Günther Teuthorn must have moved from his home town Frankenhausen to Kiel and settled here as a surgeon and burger. During the following years he must have felt to have exchanged a sleepy quiet town [1] for a furiously growing city. (See houses of the Faulstraße where Teuthorns lived)

For from 1864 to 1871 the capital of the Dukedom of Holstein saw decisive changing, at first the attempt of forced union with Denmark by the new Danish Constitution, then occupation by forces of the Union of German States (Deutscher Bund) until in 1867 it definitely became Prussian. More important for the city´s further development than the generally changed political situation was the decision to move the Prussian fleet from Danzig to Kiel (1865) and the citiy´s denomination to one of the war harbours [2] of the new German Empire in 1871. Soon docks and ship production follwed.

Population generally grew a lot at that time in Germany, but in Kiel growth was explosive by reasons of building the German navy. In 1864 population had reached almost 19.000, but in 1900 the number was already 108.000. Dependence from the Navy not only restricted the possible development of the commercial harbour but mainly in World War II was the deadly reason for definite destruction of the old city by Allied bombing, so that today, historical remains unfortunately are scarcely to be found. Destruction was comparable to what German Air Force caused to the city centre of British Coventry. Today both cities are joint in friendship by mutual city partnership.

Today with its 240.000 inhabitants Kiel is a busy maritime city, water being the most characteristic element. The Nord-Ostsee-Kanal shall be the world´s busiest waterway and connects the North Sea with the Baltic Sea. International ocean research has strong activities in Kiel as well as world class water sports. Olympic sailing competition was exercised here in 1936 and again in 1972. The Kieler Woche - a regatta with a good 2000 boats and around 5000 active participants - is a world-famous sporting event. As further details would pass the limits of historical review and of my self restriction, interested people should visit the Kiel internet sites www.kiel.de and www.kieler-woche.de for more information.

© Peter Teuthorn, 10. August 2002

[1] Frankenhausen´s population at that time was about 4.000 and did not surpass 6.500 in 1900.

[2] Wilhelmshafen at the English Sea was the other.

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