Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


Schleswig-Holstein (shlĕsˈvĭkh-hôlˈshtīn), state (1994 pop. 2,595,000), c.6,050 sq mi (15,670 sq km), NW Germany. Kiel (the capital and chief port), Lübeck, Flensburg, and Neumünster are the major cities. Flanked on the west by the North Sea and on the east by the Baltic Sea, Schleswig-Holstein occupies the southern part of the Jutland peninsula and extends from the Elbe River northward to the Danish border. It includes some of the North Frisian Islands of the North Sea and the island of Fehmarn in the Baltic. The Kiel Canal links the North Sea and the Baltic. Schleswig-Holstein is drained by the Eider River, which forms the historic border between the former duchies of Schleswig (in the north) and Holstein (in the south).


A low-lying region with excellent natural harbors along the Baltic coast, the state has fertile agricultural land except in the center, where heaths and moors predominate. Farming (grain, potatoes, and vegetables) and cattle raising are pursued, although agricultural production accounts for less than one tenth of the state's yearly output. Shipping and fishing are important along the coasts. Manufactures of Schleswig-Holstein include ships, textiles, electrical goods, paper, clothing, and machinery. There are oil fields in the Dithmarschen region in the southwest. The islands of Sylt and Föhr and the southern Baltic coast are popular tourist resorts, while Eutin, Lübeck, and Schleswig are historic centers.


With respect to the history of Schleswig-Holstein, Lord Palmerston once proclaimed it to be so complicated that only three men had ever fully understood it—one being Prince Albert, who was dead; the second, a professor, who had become insane; the third, Palmerston himself, who had forgotten it. (For the history of the area to the late 18th cent. see the articles Holstein and Schleswig.)

From 1773 the kings of Denmark held both duchies—Schleswig as full sovereigns, Holstein as princes of the Holy Roman Empire; both duchies were in personal union with, but not part of, Denmark. The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) did not change the status of the two duchies, except that the German Confederation had succeeded the Holy Roman Empire in its suzerainty over Holstein. A constitution for Holstein was guaranteed by the German Confederation.

Because of the growing national consciousness of the predominantly German population in the two duchies, any change in their status that would tie them more closely to Denmark was a potentially explosive issue. When King Christian VIII announced (1846) that succession by females was to apply not only to the Danish throne but to Schleswig as well, there was violent opposition among German nationalists, who feared the complete incorporation of Schleswig into Denmark. Nevertheless, on the pressure of the Danish nationalists, Frederick VII, who succeeded Christian, declared the complete union of Schleswig with Denmark in 1848. Revolution broke out in both duchies, a provisional government was established in Kiel, and the German Confederation came to the aid of the rebels and occupied the duchies. British intervention led to an armistice in the German-Danish fighting, but in 1849 the war was resumed. After inconclusive fighting, peace was made in 1850 between Prussia (which had been commissioned by the Confederation to conduct the war) and Denmark; both sides reserved their rights.

The fact that Frederick VII was childless made the Schleswig-Holstein succession a burning European issue. The question was taken up by the powers in a conference at London, and in 1852 Prussia, Austria, and other major powers (but not the German Confederation as a body) signed the Treaty of London. The treaty guaranteed the territorial integrity of Denmark, and settled the succession to Denmark and both duchies on the Glücksburg branch of the Danish royal house, which derived its claim through the female line. Duke Christian Augustus of Augustenburg, who represented a collateral line, renounced his claim to the duchies and accepted a money indemnity; Denmark in turn guaranteed the inseparability of the duchies and their continued status in personal union with Denmark.

In 1855, pressure from Danish nationalists forced Frederick VII to proclaim the Danish constitution as valid for both duchies. The protest of the German Confederation led to the withdrawal (1858) of that measure, but in Nov., 1863, just before Frederick's death, a common constitution for Denmark and Schleswig was drawn up. His successor, Christian IX, signed the constitution, which the German diet declared in violation of the protocol. In Jan., 1864, Prussia and Austria declared war on Denmark, which was easily defeated.

The disposal of the duchies was still at issue. Austria favored the claims of the duke of Augustenburg, who denounced the surrender of the Augustenburg claim by his father in 1852; but Bismarck, who was guiding Prussian policy, had already resolved to annex the duchies and had encouraged the Danish War with that end in view. By the Treaty of Gastein (1865) with Austria, Bismarck deliberately imposed a solution that was bound to create friction with Austria. Schleswig was placed under Prussian administration and Holstein under Austrian administration, while the duchy of Lauenburg (also lost by Denmark in 1864) went to Prussia in return for a money payment to Austria. The dual administration led, as Bismarck had anticipated, to such tension that Austria could easily be maneuvered into a war with Prussia. The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 ended with a swift (7 weeks) Prussian victory; Schleswig, Holstein, and Lauenburg were annexed to Prussia and became the province of Schleswig-Holstein.

After World War I the Danish majority of N Schleswig determined by plebiscite (1920) the return of that part of the province to Denmark. The former free city of Lübeck and the Lübeck district of Oldenburg were incorporated into Schleswig-Holstein in 1937. After World War II, Schleswig-Holstein was constituted (1946) as a state of West Germany, and in 1990 it became a state of reunified Germany.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Land (state) in the northern part of the Federal Republic of Germany. Area, 15,700 sq km. Population, 2,600,000 (1975). The capital is Kiel.

An island chain that includes the North Frisian Islands runs along the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein, whose Baltic coast is indented by bays, including those of Lübeck and Kiel, and by inlets. Located on the Jutland Peninsula and the North German Lowland, Schleswig-Holstein is hilly in the east and southeast and rises to an elevation of 164 m.

The economy of Schleswig-Holstein is dominated by the industrial and agricultural sectors. The Land accounted for 3.4 percent of the gross national output of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1974. Industry produces approximately 33 percent of the gross output of Schleswig-Holstein, and agriculture, 6.6 percent. Shipbuilding in the region accounts for almost one-third of the country’s tonnage of oceangoing vessels, and 55,000 tons of fish were caught commercially off the coast in 1975. Schleswig-Holstein has food-processing and textile industries, as well as a match industry that produces 20 percent of the country’s matches. Other important industries include copper smelting and machine building. The principal industrial centers are Lübeck, Kiel, Rendsburg, Brunsbüttel, Heide, and Neumünster.

Farmland occupies more than 75 percent of Schleswig-Holstein. Livestock are raised for meat and dairy products. In 1975 the region had 1.5 million head of cattle and 1.6 million swine and produced 2.2 million tons of milk, 64,000 tons of butter, and 338,000 tons of meat. Grains, sugar beets, and potatoes are grown in the southeast, and vegetables are raised in the marshlands and on the island of Fehmarn. The Kiel Canal runs through Schleswig-Holstein, whose seaports include Lübeck, through which 5.6 million tons of freight were moved in 1975, and Kiel, the base for a Baltic fishing fleet.


History. Schleswig-Holstein originally consisted of two independent areas, Schleswig and Holstein, which were united by the Holstein counts in 1386. Although Schleswig-Holstein passed to the rule of the Danish king in 1460 as a result of a personal union, Holstein, which became a duchy in 1474, formally remained a part of the Holy Roman Empire until 1806, when the empire was dissolved. The Reformation spread to Schleswig-Holstein in the mid-16th century, and, owing to the influence of the French Revolution, an extensive antifeudal movement developed in the late 18th century. Serfdom was abolished in Schleswig-Holstein in 1804. In 1806, Denmark declared full possession of Holstein. The Congress of Vienna (1814–15) recognized the right of succession of the Danish king in Schleswig-Holstein, but declared Holstein a member of the German Confederation.

The national liberation movement among the region’s predominantly German population intensified in the 1830’s. The outbreak of the Revolution of 1848–49 in Germany was followed by revolutionary events in Schleswig-Holstein. A provisional government established in March 1848 proclaimed the independence of Schleswig-Holstein and declared war on Denmark. The provisional government approved a draft for a constitution that F. Engels called “the most democratic [draft] ever drawn up in the German language” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 5, pp. 422–23). With an eye to seizing Schleswig-Holstein as well as checking the growth of the revolution in Germany, Prussia entered the war against Denmark in April.

A truce concluded during the Danish-Prussian War of 1848–50 (German-Danish War of 1848–50) called for the return of Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark, the dissolution of the revolutionary provisional government, the repeal of the government’s decrees, and the removal of Prussian troops from the region. These stipulations were incorporated in the London Protocol of 1852, which was signed by Great Britain, Russia, and France. Although it recognized the right of succession of the Danish monarchy, the protocol specified that Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark could be linked only through a personal union and that Holstein would remain a member of the German Confederation.

In accordance with the constitution introduced in Denmark in 1863, Schleswig was separated from Holstein and made a Danish province. This precipitated a war between Austria and Prussia, on one side, and Denmark, on the other (seeGERMAN-DANISH WAR OF 1863–64). The war ended in Denmark’s defeat; Holstein fell under Austrian rule, and Schleswig came under Prussian rule. After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 (Seven Weeks’ War), Schleswig and Holstein passed to Prussia as a single province. North Schleswig, most of whose population was Danish, was later incorporated into Denmark as a result of a plebiscite conducted in 1920 on the basis of the Peace Treaty of Versailles (1919). Schleswig-Holstein was organized as a Land of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949.


Engels, F. “Peremirie s Daniei.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 5.
Engels, F. Revoliutsiia i kontrrevoliutsiia v Germanii. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 8, pp. 58–59.
Roots, L. Shlezvig-gol’shtinskii vopros i politika evropeiskikh derzhav v 1863–1864 godakh. Tallinn, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a state of N Germany, formerly in West Germany: drained chiefly by the River Elbe; mainly agricultural. Capital: Kiel. Pop.: 2 823 000 (2003 est.). Area: 15 658 sq. km (6045 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Reportedly, these Motorola Solutions devices, accessories and services will be used by 1,500 non-police public safety organisations, including all emergency services, public and private fire departments, and civil protection agencies in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Chief legal and regulatory affairs officer Martin Cruddace, said: "Schleswig-Holstein's government should be applauded for its efforts to implement a regulatory regime that will provide security for consumers, transparency for regulators and the freedom to compete for EU operators."
Hans-Joern Arp, leader of the Christian Democrats in the Schleswig-Holstein assembly, said that the state was the first to acknowledge the important role the Internet played in the gaming sector and that the law could raise EUR60m (USD82m) in taxes per year.
Turkey is the guest country of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 2011.
Germany's states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein agreed to provide EUR10bn in guarantees to the bank in the second quarter of 2009.
(1.) Landesbank Schleswig-Holstein operates a branch and Hamburgische Landesbank operates a representative office, both in New York, New York.
Two German public sector banks, Hamburgische Landesbank Girozentrale (HLB) and Landesbank Schleswig-Holstein Girozentrale Kiel (LB Kiel), have been granted clearance to merge by the European Commission.