I visited Christiansfeld as part of the IBRG DEDK21 expedition.  The focus of the first day was the historic border between Denmark and Germany. Christiansfeld was significant because it was the place the Danish King rode symbolically across the border to reclaim the southern territories regained through the plebiscite of 1920. In 1864, Denmark lost the Second Schleswig War and ended up ceding the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg to Prussia (the German Empire from 1871). Southern Jutland, the original name for the Duchy of Schleswig, had been lost to Germany, and the new Danish-German border was drawn just south of Kolding. The vast majority of people in the northern part of Southern Jutland still felt Danish. Consequently, the idea of a political reunification with at least parts of Southern Jutland enjoyed significant popular support in Denmark in the second half of the 19th century. Reunification was however would not occur until after WW1.

The reunification of Southern Jutland with Denmark was made possible in 1920 with the German defeat in the First World War. It took place in June 1920 after a process that in fact started with Germany’s admission of defeat in October 1918 and its ensuing request for an armistice. Early on in the post war discussions there was an acceptance that the border with Denmark would change.

The mechanism for change was outlined in the The Aabenraa resolution (1918). The resolution was of decisive importance for the location of the Danish-German border. The route follows the so-called Clausen line , which takes into account the actual linguistic conditions in Schleswig. Schleswig was divided into three voting zones: North Schleswig, Central Schleswig and South Schleswig. Voting rights were given to all adults over 20 who were born in the voting areas, or who had lived there since 1 January1900. The voting in zone I, North Schleswig, took place on 10 February 1920. The turnout percentage was 91.4. There was a clear majority for Danish affiliation. The voting in zone II, Central Schleswig, took place on March 14. The result here was exactly the opposite. The voting in zone III was annulled.

South Jutland’s incorporation into Denmark was done gradually. On 5 May, Danish troops moved into the area, and on 20 May Danish currency was introduced in the region. The Danish postal service was also introduced on the same day.

On 15 June 1920 (Reunification Day) the Danish Government took over the control of South Jutland, and the German passport and customs controls officially moved from the river Kongeå to the current border. The law on “The Southern Jutland areas incorporated in Denmark” was signed by King Christian X on 9 July. The following day , Reunification was celebrated by King’s famous ride on the white horse over the erased Kongeå border. 

Historic Border Memorial

The memorial stone at Høkkelbjerg was erected in 1921 to celebrate the reunification of Denmark.  The memorial is located on a 3.7 x 10.3 m graveled area, which is partly bounded by edged granite tiles to the south. Along the west side are five old boundary stones from the Danish-German border 1864-1920. Between the two southernmost and between the two northernmost boundary stones, a wooden bench has been established in each place, which has been drilled into the boundary stones.

In addition to the border stone, there is also a sculpture on the actual border that symbolically shows a border marker broken as representation of the now defunct border.

IBRG Participants (L to R) Barry Arnold, Jesper Nielsen, Uffe Gardel, Jan Krogh, Ann Kennard, Steen Breiner, Linda Nissen and Hans Peter Nissen
The symbolic broken border stone.
Danish Triangulation Point – exactly on the old border.
Peter and Jesper taking a closer look
An inlaid metal strip with the dates of the historic border.

The Hotel and the Museum

Just north of the historic border was the 16th-century Den Gamle Grænsekro Inn. On the opposite side of the road was the Border Museum. A perfect place to stay for border enthusiasts.

The border 1864-1920
The Danish King crossing the border!
Historical border marker (not in original position)
PICTURE: Henrich Dohm’s ‘Genforeningen den 10. juli 1920’. King Christian X crossing the former border between Denmark and Germany, symbolically marking Southern Jutland’s reunification with Denmark.
Celebration Meal! IBRG members at rest.

Date of Visit: 24 September 2021

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