Danish version 

 The Author of This Site

 The Background

 The Landscape 

 Building the Position

 The Infantry and Trenches

 The Light Batteries

 The Heavy Batteries

 The Camps

 POW´s and other Prisoners

 Other Facilities

 Other Batteries

 The Zeppelin base Tönder

 The Remains

 Start

 


 



  















































































































































































 


The Northern German Defence Line 1916-18 (
Sicherungsstellung Nord)
 
The background of the defence Line.

 The background was Denmarks everlasting evil spirit - our strategic place as the cork in the Baltic Sea.  A place we have used to our
 benefit, but also a place that have brought us between the big countries in Europe again and again. Sweden, Germany, England and
 latest the Warsaw Pact had the need for access to the North Sea.
 In this actual period Denmark was interesting for England, because the narrow straits with mines could prevent the German Baltic Fleet
 from leaving the Baltic Sea. Germany was interested in preventing England form invading the Baltic Sea or attack through Jutland from the north. Therefore Germany was interested that Denmark remained neutral, with an army big enough to defend the neutrality. Denmark
 knew that, and mobilised at the outbreak of WW1. 57.000 men were enlisted, of which the 40.000 were placed around Copenhagen in
 case of a German attack. At the end of WWI Demark had the greatest number of trained soldiers, aproximately 120.000 men.

 The Situation in the Baltic Sea. 
 
Admiral von Tirpitz tried at the beginning of the 20th. Century to build a navy so big and powerful, that  Germany for the first time
 ever, would become an important naval power.  



                             
                                      Alfred von Tirpitz
 

                               The German High Sea Fleet on parade

 Already in the autumn of 1904, this balance was twisted.  The Russian Vladivostok-fleet from the north was destroyed during the Russian-
 Japanese war, and the Russian Baltic Fleet was sent to take over. This fleet had to go south of India, but no states were interested to
 help them - except one. German HAPAG coal carriers delivered more than willingly coal to the Fleet in open waters. Thereby Germany
 helped the unpleasant Fleet to move further and further from home waters - and the German Baltic Fleet. 
 The Russian Baltic Fleet was totally destroyed by the Fleet of Admiral Togo in the battle at the the Tshushima-strait in 1905.

 The naval balance in the Baltic Sea was now twisted totally, and Germany now was the most important naval power in the region.
 So powerful, that England increased the power of the Home Fleet, and seriously discussed a preventive naval attack on the Imperial
 German Navy. Along with the English-French Entente, Germany felt they have been left alone in the colonial race, and the new status as
 a naval power should be used. France was making some progresses in the Marocco, and during this the German Kaiser Vilhelm made
 a rather clumsy visit to Tanger in Marocco on a battleship.

 
              Churchill and Kaiser Wilhelm II
                           before the war

 This visit was  considered as a open challenge by France.
 During this crisis, the French Foreign Minister Delcassé got a promise, possibly by the English king
 personally, according the landing of
 100.000 English soldiers in  Aalbæk Bugt and Esbjerg in Jutland in case
 of a war between France and Germany. This promise was
 revealed by the angry, now former foreign minister,   Delcassé in the French
 newspaper Matin in 1906. At the time, Kaiser Vilhelm talked
 about Delcassé as “the most dangerous man for Germany in France”.

  Security stronghold North. Théophile Delcassé. Sicherungsstellung Nord
       Théophile Delcassé

 The promise the English King had made Delcassé chocked both the German Army and the politicians as well, and English landing in
 Esbjerg was included in the German plans the next twenty years. 
 This is confirmed in the so called Lütken talks.
 L.C.F. Lütken, at the time a Captain in the army and close to the
Danish Prime Minister, was of the opinion that  Danish neutrality could
 only be obtained if Denmark cooperated with Germany in closing the open German flank in the north. (Jutland)
 On his own initiative, he visited the German Chief of Staff, General Molkte in 1906, and from Lütkens memories we know, that Molkte
 again and again returned to an English landing in Esbjerg.
 To day we know that Lütken was sent secretly by the Prime Minister, but it is interesting that General Molkte would waste time and
 concern on a Danish Army Captain
, but it seams there have been some family realtions.

 In Southern Jutland, that became German after the second Danish-Prussian War in 1864, a lot of major drills were held. A lot of the
 soldiers lived during these drills in private homes, at they told everywhere to their Danish hosts about 100.000 English troops coming
 from Esbjerg.
 These Drills were in general held, where the Defence Line Sicherungstellung Nord later was placed.
 
 In 1909 some articles occurred in the major German Newspapers as the Vossische Zeitung and the Berliner Tageblatt about the vitality
 of a defence of the west coast of Southern Jutland and Esbjerg. During the years 1905-09 there were several English naval visits in
 Esbjerg, which without any doubt confirmed the German fear of an English landing. All ready in the initial strategic planning prior to WW1,
 the campaign plan from the German General Staff mentions
:

 

 "To secure Slesvig-Holstein and the Kaiser Vilhelm Channel the following units will, on the 8-11 day of
the mobilisation, start moving.
 The Northern Army composed of the IX.
Reserve corps and the 4. "gemischten" Landwehr  brigade under the command of Höherer
 Landwehrkommandeur 1..."  
 
 
However, all available forces were needed on the Western Front, and IX Reserve Corps was moved  here.  The responsibility of the
 Defence Line in Jutland was left over to the Landwehr and the Landsturm. The German military situation is bad in 1916, when Hinden-
 burg takes over the position of chief of the German General staff, with Ludendorff as his assistant. (Erster Generalquartiermeister)
.

                                        
                                         Paul von Hindenburg
 
    Erich Ludendorff

 Before the unrestricted submarine warfare was declared, the generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff  had some conditions to be fulfilled.
 They feared the Submarine War could bring The Netherlands and  Denmark into the war against Germany, because of their great naval
 and commercial interests. Therefore they demanded that the Northern Flank was effectively secured before Submarine War was
 declared.

   Hindenburg and
 Ludendorff

 Ludendorff in his memories:
 It was only with the deepest regrets, we could not recommend the unconditional Submarine Warfare. In the opinion  of the  Reichskansler
 it could eventually mean war with The Netherlands and Denmark. To protect ourselves against these two nations, we didn’t have a one
 man available. They would be able to invade Germany with their armies, even not used to war, at give us the final stroke.
 

 The Danish mobilisation force from 1914 was decreased from 57.000 men in 1914 to 33.000 men in 1916  and the plans were overall
 defensive, expecting a German attack.
 The preferred plan was a fighting withdrawal towards a defence line at the Limfjord in Northern
 Jutland. This plan could hardly treathen neither Berlin nor Germany.
 But the two Germans considered  the Danish army as a risk , and demanded the Defence Line. Maybe they never really forgot the
 English promise from 1905 ?
 
 The first time the Defence Line is actually mentioned, is an letter from the OKK, Oberkommando der Küstenverteidigung,  (The High
 Command of the Coastal Defence) to the Hochseekommando (the  Command of the High See Fleet) 2. sep. 1916, where a position
 situated as the later Defence Line is prepared. According to this, the Defence Line had already been prepared, when the Admiral Staff
 sep.16th 1916 receives a telegram from Ludendorff ordering them to establish a "Stellung in Gerippe" (a prepared and partly finished)
 positions following the line Hoptrup - Toftlund – Skærbæk.
 
 Sep. 18th 1916 reports General Malachowski from OKK, that the construction of a position between Genner Fjord and the island of Römö
 
already was started. There were only 5 landsturmbattailone at the Danish boarder (Kongeåen), but two divisions were being formed,
 ready to march to the German-Danish boarder.
 On September 1916, the General Command of the 9. Army Corps is ordered to establish the defence Line Sicherungstellung Nord
 according to the plans that has been ready for a long time. On September 10th and 17th the first Pioneer units arrived to the Southern
 Jutland.  

 To day we know that in case of an attack form the Netherlands, two German Army Group Commands and 9½ infantry division were
 held in reserve.
 In case of a Danish attack, the German army would remain in the defensive. For this purpose one German General
 Command, 2 Division Staffs and 6 mixed (gemischte) brigades were in reserve.
 
 Which forces that should have been sent to the Defence Line are still not known?
 IX. Reserve Corps is a possibility according to the first plan, unless they were occupied on the western Front. It is only a guess, but it is
 unthinkable that
the Landsturm and the Landwehr should defend the Northern Front without forces trained in combat.