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Heligoland(hĕl`ĭgōlănd'), island (1994 pop. 1,730), c.150 acres (60 hectares), Schleswig-Holstein, NW Germany, in the North Sea. Formed of red sandstone, it rises to c.200 ft (60 m) above the sea and is largely covered with grazing land. Strategically located near the mouths of the Weser and the Elbe rivers, Helgoland was captured by the Danes in 1714, was occupied by the English in 1807, and was formally ceded to England by Denmark in 1814. In exchange for rights in Africa, England gave the island to Germany in 1890. The Germans installed fortifications, which were razed after World War I according to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. However, Germany refortified Helgoland in 1936 and used it as a naval base in World War II. In 1947, British occupation authorities, after evacuating the islanders (mostly fishermen), blew up the fortifications and part of the island in one of the largest known nonatomic blasts. The island was largely rebuilt after British occupation forces returned it to West Germany in 1952. It is now a popular tourist resort and a center for scientific research, particularly ornithology.
an island in the North Sea, part of the Federal Republic of Germany (the Land of Schleswig-Holstein). Area, 0.9 sq km; population, 2,900 (1968). A health resort.
Populated by Frisians, Helgoland became a possession of the duchy of Schleswig in 1402; it became part of Denmark in 1714. In 1807 the island was occupied by Great Britain. On the basis of the so-called Helgoland-Zanzibar agreement of 1890, Great Britain, in exchange for Zanzibar and other territories in Africa, handed Helgoland over to Germany, which converted it (beginning in 1892) into an important sea fortress. Near Helgoland, on Aug. 28, 1914, the British fleet defeated a German squadron. The military installations on the island were destroyed in accord with the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles (1919), but beginning in 1935 Hitler’s Germany again converted Helgoland into a naval base. In May 1945, Helgoland was occupied by British armies. The population of Helgoland (in 1945 around 3,000 inhabitants) was completely resettled. The German fortifications were destroyed by deep blasting in 1947. From 1947 to 1952 the island served as an instruction and testing base for RAF target bombing. In March 1952, Helgoland was handed over to West Germany. The town and the harbor were restored.
A. B. GERMAN