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Kiel is the state capital and at the same time the most populous city in Schleswig-Holstein. Founded as Holstenstadt tom Kyle in the 13th century, it became a major city in 1900. Today Kiel is one of the 30 largest cities in Germany and forms the center of the Kiel region.

Kiel is the northernmost major city in Germany. It is located on the Baltic Sea (Kiel Fjord) and is the end point of the most frequented artificial waterway in the world, the Kiel Canal, internationally known as the Kiel Canal. Kiel is traditionally an important base of the German Navy and is known for the annual international sailing event Kieler Woche, the handball club THW Kiel, the football club Holstein Kiel and the culinary specialty of Kiel sprats.

In addition to the service sector, the largest German shipyard ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and the Kiel Baltic Sea port with its ferries to Scandinavia and the Baltic States are of economic importance. The independent city is the seat of three universities: the Christian-Albrechts-Universität, the Fachhochschule and the Muthesius Kunsthochschule.



Since the subjugation of the Saxons by Charlemagne, the area on the Kiel Fjord first belonged to the Frankish Empire and then to Holstein. Kiel was founded between 1233 and 1242 by Adolf IV (Schauenburg and Holstein), who had only recently regained control of the county, which had temporarily been lost to Denmark. Presumably there was a merchant settlement at this point a long time before 1233. But only near Kiel did the Franconian-Saxon territory come into contact with the Baltic Sea - north of the Levensau was Schleswig and thus Danish territory, east of the Schwentine behind the Limes Saxoniae was Wagria and thus Slavic territory, which at that time was not yet firmly in the hands of the Holsteiners Count was. Therefore, this place on the fjord was the only possibility for a Saxon or Holstein Baltic port. As such, Kiel was planned as one of the northernmost cities in the Holy Roman Empire. At the same time, Count Adolf founded the Franciscan monastery in which he spent his old age. In 1242, Kiel was granted the town charter of Lübeck. The first city books, which initially spread in northern Germany, date from this time.

The original city name was Holstenstadt tom Kyle (about "Holsteinstadt an der Förde"). The y in the old name is a long / i /. In parlance, the name was shortened to tom Kyle and finally to Kiel. Kiel (Low German "wedge") in particular most likely means the fjord, a sea bay that cuts far into the country. A Nordic origin is also conceivable (Old Norse kíll "narrow bay").

Historically, Kiel was also called by its Latin name Chilonium (pronounced "Kielonium").

Trading city and member of the Hanseatic League
In the Middle Ages, Kiel's long-distance trade lagged far behind that of other Baltic ports such as Lübeck, Flensburg, Stralsund, Rostock and Wismar. Although the city entered the Hanseatic League in 1283/1284, it rarely took part in joint activities and could hardly use the trade privileges: the sovereign influence on trade was stronger here than in the free cities. The castle was pledged to Hans Schackssohn von Rantzau from 1465 to 1469, the town and castle were pledged to the Free Hanseatic City of Lübeck from 1469 to 1496, which limited the city's economic opportunities. All these disadvantages finally led to exclusion from the Hanseatic League in 1554, especially since Kiel was accused of harboring pirates.

Economically more important for the city than membership in the Hanseatic League was the Kieler Umschlag, which was first mentioned in 1469, but presumably had existed for much longer. For a week (from January 6th to 14th), money transactions were carried out here, especially by the nobility and merchants. Interested parties came from all over the country. A folk festival was then celebrated, which has been held once a year since 1975.

In 1301, Kiel was already fortified. The sovereigns, the Schauenburg counts of Holstein and Stormarn, had built a castle. From 1329 the city was surrounded by a stone city wall. During this time Kiel had nine city gates: Holstentor (Holstein gate), Kütertor (Küter = innards butcher), Hass gate, Danish gate, Kattentor, Fischertor, Flemish gate, Schumacher gate and Pfaffentor. Until the late 16th century, the populated area was largely limited to the small old town. Besides the Franciscan monastery, there was only one church, the Nikolaikirche, which was completed around 1240.

Early modern age
Since 1460 Kiel has been ruled by the Danish King in his capacity as Duke of Holstein (see personal union), so it remained a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, not Denmark. The Reformation began in Kiel in 1526, when the Kiel citizen's son Marquard Schuldorp, who had studied with Martin Luther in Wittenberg, began his service as vicar. In 1527 Friedrich I. invited Melchior Hofmann to Kiel as a lay preacher. Hofmann's doctrine of the Lord's Supper, according to which bread and wine mean only Christ's body, contradicted the Lutheran position according to which Christ is present in the sacrament. Hofmann and Schuldorp are said to have fought in the pulpit. In 1529 Hofmann and his followers were presented to Crown Prince Christian III after the Flensburg Disputation. in the Flensburg St. Catherine's Monastery in the country Kiel received a new church order. The Franciscan monastery was closed and the building was given to the city, which used it as a school and later as a hospital.

In the witch hunts in the city of Kiel from 1530 to 1676 32 people were affected. At least 25 people were executed in witch trials, including Trinke Preetzen and her father Hinrich Busch.


Since the division of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein between the Danish King Christian III. and his brothers, the dukes Adolf and Johann, in 1544 Kiel belonged to the ducal share, the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf. In the course of the 16th century and early 17th century, the dukes succeeded in gradually reducing the older privileges of some cities; so Kiel was forced to come to power of Duke Friedrich III. to take a special oath of homage, which reduced the formerly "privileged city" to the status of an inherited corporation.

In 1665, Duke Christian Albrecht von Gottorf founded the Christian Albrechts University, the northernmost university in the Roman-German Empire, in the building of the former Kiel monastery. The university originally had theological, law, medical and philosophical faculties and soon moved into its own buildings. The citizens of Kiel were initially not very enthusiastic, because the city not only had to provide the buildings, but also to endure the often boisterous students - as early as 1700 there were over 300 with a population of just under 4000 people - who like the other university members not subject to municipal jurisdiction. In addition, the university lecturers did not pay any taxes. Nevertheless, Kiel benefited economically from the university, at which important scholars were soon working.

After the Gottorf dukes lost their possessions in Schleswig in 1721, Kiel became the capital and residence of the remaining territory for half a century. In 1728 the future Russian Tsar Peter III was in Kiel Castle. Born as the son of Duke Karl Friedrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf. As Tsar, Peter planned a campaign against Denmark; only his early death saved Kiel and the Elbe duchies from another war.

Kiel as part of the entire Danish state
Peter's widow, Tsarina Katharina the Great, left the remains of the Gottorf shares in Holstein and thus also Kiel to the Danish king in 1773. From then on he ruled the city again in his capacity as Duke of Holstein; In terms of constitutional law, Kiel continued to belong to Germany, not Denmark. The university experienced a considerable boom; In 1803 Germany's first botanical garden was opened in Kiel.

After the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Kiel and Holstein became part of Denmark under constitutional law for nine years. As part of the Napoleonic Wars, Kiel was captured by the Swedes in the "Cossack Winter" in 1813; In 1814 the Peace of Kiel was concluded: the Duchy of Holstein continued to be ruled by the Danish king, and in 1815 it became a member of the German Confederation. With that, Kiel formally belonged to Germany again. In 1817, Kiel students took part in the Wartburg Festival. In the years that followed, Kiel University became a center of the fraternity movement. It was not without reason that Uwe Jens Lornsen, a student fraternity member and graduate of Kiel University, chose Kiel in 1830 as the place where he published About the Constitution in Schleswigholstein, one of the most influential pamphlets of the Vormärz. He was supported by Franz Hermann Hegewisch, who later was one of the most important propagators of the railway connection with Altona.

In 1838 the mechanical engineering institute Schweffel und Howaldt was founded; this was Kiel's first large industrial company, which later became the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard. With the construction of the railway line to Altona (König-Christian-VIII.-Ostseebahn), the Baltic port of Kiel was connected to the Elbe and the North Sea as early as 1844. With the fire diver, the world's first submarine was built in Kiel in 1850.

In Kiel, a provisional Schleswig-Holstein government was established in 1848. The attempt to break away from the Danish crown and become a sovereign member of the German Confederation failed.

Marine port of Kiel
But in 1864 Schleswig-Holstein was conquered by Prussia and Austria in the German-Danish War; Kiel was initially administered jointly by Prussia and Austria. In 1865 the Prussian king ordered the relocation of the Baltic Sea naval station from Danzig to Kiel. In the same year, in the Gastein Convention, Austria and Prussia agreed to build a federal fleet and make Kiel a federal port. This plan did not come into effect because of the German War of 1866; Nevertheless, from this point on Kiel quickly developed into a large city.


In 1867 Kiel became part of the province of Schleswig-Holstein in the Kingdom of Prussia and a naval port in the Navy of the North German Confederation, which was dominated by Prussia. The artillery depot (from 1891 Imperial Torpedo Workshop) was set up in Friedrichsort; here, among other things, overseas and submarine weapons were developed. In the same year, the Norddeutsche Schiffbaugesellschaft (Germania shipyard from 1882) was the second large shipbuilding company in Kiel after Schweffel & Howaldt. The city became the seat of the district of Kiel formed from the offices of Bordesholm, Kronshagen, Kiel and Neumünster.

With the establishment of the German Empire, Kiel, like Wilhelmshaven, became a port of war. The Prussian naval depot, which had existed since 1865, became the Royal Shipyard in Kiel, which in turn was renamed the Imperial Shipyard after the establishment of the German Empire in 1871. The Kiel shipyard workers began to organize in 1873; the General German Ship Carpenters Association was founded.

The first Kiel Week took place in 1882; Since 1885 it has been organized as a combination of ship parade, sailing regattas and folk festival and over time should develop into a world-famous sailing event and, alongside the Oktoberfest and the Cannstatter Volksfest, one of the largest folk festivals in Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II was a regular guest at the event.

In 1883 Kiel left the district of the same name and became an independent city; Bordesholm became the new seat of the district of Kiel. Rapid population growth began in the 1880s with the rise in shipbuilding. Its employees quickly organized: The Kiel trade union cartel was founded in 1893 and initially had 2900 members.

In 1895 the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal (today the Kiel Canal) was opened, and it soon became the world's busiest artificial waterway. As a result, Kiel became the main port of the German navy. In the middle of the First World War, Kiel became the official seat of the President of the Province of Schleswig-Holstein in 1917 and thus the provincial capital. Before that, the high presidium sat in Schleswig.

A revolution began with the Kiel sailors' uprising in 1918, which contributed significantly to the end of the First World War. On November 3, 1918, the sailors rose there and, after a spontaneous battle with troops loyal to the government, founded Germany's first workers 'and soldiers' council on November 4, and thus began the November Revolution, which covered all of Germany within a few days and laid the foundation for the Weimar Republic put.

The Kiel-Holtenau civil airfield went into operation in 1928.

Kiel under National Socialism
In Kiel (as in the rest of the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein), forces hostile to the republic grew stronger towards the end of the Weimar Republic, especially the National Socialists. Kiel was the capital of the NS-Gau Schleswig-Holstein. Especially after the seizure of power on January 30, 1933, there were attacks by the National Socialists. German Jews were most affected. In addition, mainly communist and social democratic workers leaders and people who, as democrats, had publicly endorsed the existence of the Weimar Republic were persecuted. After the Kiel town hall had been illegally occupied by National Socialists on March 11, 1933, the well-known republic-loyal lawyer Wilhelm Spiegel was murdered in his house by several National Socialists (men in SA and SS uniform) the following night. The subsequent investigations served as a pretext to quickly smash the powerful Kiel SPD local association and to send many Social Democrats and Communists to the concentration camp.


Friedrich Schumm's murder
During the boycott of Jewish shops on April 1, the lawyer Friedrich Schumm was murdered on April 1, 1933 in a cell of the police prison on Gartenstrasse in Kiel by a pack of SA and SS men. During the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in front of his father Georg Schumm's furniture store on Kehdenstrasse, Schumm had been beaten by several SS and SA men standing there at around 11 a.m. to prevent him from doing his business Father to enter. He had defended himself against this in self-defense with a pistol. There were also shots from the SS. An SS man by the name of Asthalter, who was also a shooter in the incident, was injured and taken to hospital. Branch holder was operated on because of a shot in the liver and was soon out of danger. After the incident, Schumm himself went to Police Station II and handed in his weapon there. He was taken to the police detention center around 12:30 pm. At the same time, an SS commando had completely devastated his father Georg Schumm's furniture business. This resulted in property damage of 25,000 Reichsmarks. Schumm's father and sister were arrested. Then the SS troops, other SA units and people in civilian clothes went to the police prison and, with the help of the NSDAP district leader Behrens and with the participation of the NSDAP Gauleiter Hinrich Lohse, gained entry to the anti-democratic and anti-Semitic-minded Police President Otto zu Rantzau into jail. SS men received the cell key, attacked the defenseless Friedrich Schumm in his cell and killed him with around 30 shots. Some time later, the wounded branch holder received from Georg Schumm the high sum of RM 25,000 as compensation for pain and suffering - it was seven to ten times the annual income of the branch holder. At the court proceedings on May 5, 1934, numerous SS men were present in the courtroom, of whom not only Georg Schumm “showed justified fear”. The commander of this group of thugs had given the court an undertaking not to allow the hearing to be "disturbed". Friedrich Schumm's murderers "maybe" also sat among the SS men. A preliminary investigation opened by a senior public prosecutor was closed on July 7, 1933 at the behest of the Prussian Ministry of Justice. After the end of National Socialism, there was neither a judicial penalty nor compensation for the murder. After 1945, the Kiel public prosecutor's office did not succeed in breaking the “chum and silence of the surviving witnesses and murderers”. They had persecuted a Jew for “racial reasons and forced the police to hand him over to the SS.” Two of them had also stolen money when Georg Schumm's shop was destroyed. They were sentenced to 12 months and 20 months' imprisonment.

The Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, among whose students the NSDAP had long been particularly popular, was quickly brought into line after it came to power in 1933. With the Kiel School, a strictly regime-loyal and anti-Semitic legal doctrine developed among lawyers, which took over the positions of eminent Jewish or liberal professors from Kiel who had previously been illegally dismissed. In the philosophical seminar, the liberal lecturers Julius Stenzel and Richard Kroner were quickly replaced by the active National Socialists Kurt Hildebrandt and Ferdinand Weinhandl. In May 1933, Weinhandl was the main speaker at the rally on the book burning on Wilhelmplatz in Kiel.

Repression against Jews
When Kiel became the venue for the Olympic sailing competitions in 1936, the authorities and the Nazi regime tried to keep their anti-Semitic measures secret, as in the rest of the Reich, so as not to shock the world public. After that, the anti-Jewish measures continued. Jewish entrepreneurs were robbed of their businesses in various ways, a process the Nazis called Aryanization. Jews were disadvantaged in every way in public life. During the Reichspogromnacht on November 9, 1938, Nazi units from the SA and SS destroyed the great Kiel synagogue on Schrevenpark. Several laws and ordinances served to eliminate Jews from economic life, including the ordinance on the use of Jewish assets. The persecution of the Jews finally ended in their murder: many of the more than 600 Jews residing in Kiel in 1933 were victims of the deportation of Jews from Germany and later murdered in the extermination camps. Only a few managed to escape into exile after losing their funds to German coercion.


Forced labor
In June 1944, the Nordmark labor education camp was built mainly to accommodate Soviet and Polish forced laborers, in which over 600 people perished by the beginning of 1945.

War damage
Between 1939 and 1945, the city, an important base of the Navy and the location of three large shipyards, was destroyed to well over 80 percent by Allied air raids on Kiel. With 350 sunk ships, the Kiel Fjord was probably the largest ship cemetery of the time.

End of war
On May 2, 1945 at 9:30 p.m., the Baltic Sea Command announced that Kiel should not be defended. The following day, existing war material and ammunition were destroyed, resulting in numerous detonations and shots that could be heard all over the city. On May 3rd, the city was declared an "Open City". On the following night from May 3rd to 4th the last air raid on Kiel took place. On May 4th, Hans-Georg von Friedeburg signed the surrender of all German troops in northwest Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark near Lüneburg on behalf of the last Reich President Karl Dönitz, who had previously left the last Reich government in Flensburg-Mürwik. On the same day, the first British armored car reached the city. In the afternoon, a small British delegation entered the Kiel town hall and handed over the mayor Behrens orders for the behavior of the population. Allied control of Kiel had begun. In the days that followed, the city was gradually occupied without a fight. The rest of Schleswig-Holstein was also completely occupied in the following days, with the exception of the Mürwik special area, which was not occupied until May 23rd. The last government of the Reich ended with subsequent arrests.

Kiel as the state capital of Schleswig-Holstein
After the end of World War II, Kiel belonged to the British zone of occupation from 1945. The British military administration set up a DP camp in the city to accommodate displaced persons. The majority of them were former Nazi forced laborers from Poland and the Baltic States.

With Ordinance No. 46 of the British Military Government on August 23, 1946, the Province of Schleswig-Holstein was separated from the State of Prussia and the new State of Schleswig-Holstein was founded; the Free State of Prussia itself was dissolved on February 25, 1947 by the Control Council Act No. 46. Kiel was the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, which in 1949 became the federal state of the newly founded Federal Republic of Germany.

As early as the end of 1944, many refugees from East Prussia, West Prussia and Pomerania came to Schleswig-Holstein. Long after the end of the war, displaced persons from the eastern regions of the German Reich had to be housed in the heavily destroyed city. In the post-war years, Kiel was rebuilt from a "modernist" perspective. It soon developed again into the economic, political and intellectual center of Schleswig-Holstein.

36 years after the 1936 Summer Olympics, Kiel was once again the venue for the sailing competitions of the 1972 Summer Olympics, this time in the new Schilksee Olympic Center. In 1975 the Kiel envelope was revived as a modern folk festival. In 1985, the Kiel tram was stopped, a decision that is regretted many times today. In 1992 the city celebrated its 750th anniversary and in 1994 the 100th Kiel Week was held. Due to the two world wars, there was no Kiel Week from 1915 to 1919 and from 1940 to 1946.

On September 23, 2008 the city received the title Place of Diversity awarded by the federal government.

In 1850 the urban area of ​​Kiel including Hammer comprised a total of 1277 hectares.

From 1869 the following communities and districts were incorporated into the city of Kiel.



The Kiel Regiopole stretches in a horseshoe shape around the natural harbor of Kiel Förde, which is an important seaport on the Baltic Sea. The northernmost district of Kiel, Schilksee, lies on the open Baltic Sea. The watershed between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea runs through Kiel. The river Eider, which flows into the North Sea, touches the city area just like the Schwentine; at the end of the Kiel Canal in the Kiel-Holtenau district are the locks to the fjord. The area around Kiel is characterized by moraine hills and merges into Holstein Switzerland in the east.

Neighboring communities
The following communities border the city of Kiel (they are enumerated clockwise, starting in the northeast on the east coast of the Kiel Fjord):

District of Plön: Mönkeberg and Schönkirchen (Office Schrevenborn), City of Schwentinental (until February 29, 2008, the municipalities of Klausdorf and Raisdorf which are free of charge) as well as Pohnsdorf, Honigsee and Boksee (all Office Preetz-Land)

District of Rendsburg-Eckernförde: Flintbek (Flintbek Office), Molfsee and Mielkendorf (Molfsee Office), Melsdorf and Ottendorf (Achterwehr Office), Kronshagen (free municipality), Neuwittenbek and Felm (Danish Wohld office), Altenholz (free municipality), Dänischenhagen and Strande (Office Dänischenhagen)

Around 325,000 people live in the Kiel agglomeration.

City structure
The urban area of ​​Kiel is now divided into 30 districts. Usually one or more districts together form one of the 18 districts, each with a local advisory council. These committees are redefined by the council assembly (municipal council) of the entire city after each municipal election and are to be heard on important matters relating to the district. You can submit applications that concern the district to the council assembly so that they can be discussed or decided there.