Internationale Bildungsstätte Jugendhof Scheersberg: Zentrum für die kulturelle, soziale und politische Jugendbildung in Schleswig-Holstein

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A monument in Angeln: The Bismarck Tower

Ground floor


Heraldic motives of Angeln hundreds (Harden)

Window made of coloured polyester (mid-1960s)

 The “heraldic motives of the Angeln hundreds” are depicted, divided into nine motives and portrayed artistically. The motives originate from a design that was first published in 1847 by Pastor Hans Nicolai Andreas Jensen (1802 - 1850). The coat of arms of Angeln (Angeln) is not an official symbol of sovereignty.

In Scandinavia and therefore the Duchy of Schleswig, the so-called hundreds were administrative districts. However, they lost their significance following the establishment of the Prussian province and the regional reforms in Schleswig-Holstein.


Window, left

Above, left: Husbyharde. An older depiction of Husbyharde; a heart pierced by two arrows. Based on an old Husby church seal. Husbyharde is one of the original hundreds in Angeln.

Above, centre: Munkbrarupharde. This shows the gridiron of Lawrence, as an attribute of Saint Lawrence, the patron saint of Munkbrarup church. Laurentius of Rome was executed upon the orders of Emperor Valerian on a glowing gridiron and died as a martyr.

Above, right: Nieharde. A crescent moon and star are depicted. These are still part of the coat of arms of the district of Gelting Bay and can be seen in some of the coats of arms of the surrounding communities such as Esgrus and Steinberg. Nieharde is also one of the original Angeln hundreds.

Below, left: Struxdorfharde. The coat of arms shows an oak tree, which represents the symbol of the municipality of Struxdorf to this day. Struxdorf is also one of the original hundreds.

Centre, middle: The portrayal of the two Schleswig lions reflects the fact that Angeln belonged to the Duchy of Schleswig. The territories that were not part of any of the hundreds are also shown here.

Centre, right: Schliesharde, one of the original Angeln hundreds, embracing the regions between Kappeln und Brodersby. The coat of arms with a fish (Schlei herring) and water/waves (Schlei) refers to fishing in the region. The symbols are still in Kappeln’s coat of arms.

Above, left: Satrupharde. The symbol of the hundred shows a scythe and can still be seen in the coat of arms of Mittelangeln.

Below, centre: Mohrkirchharde. The cross of St. Anthony is depicted. In 1391, Antonine monks founded the monastery of Mohrkirchen, which was dissolved during the Reformation in Schleswig-Holstein in about 1540. The cross of St. Anthony remains part of the coat of arms of Mohrkirch to this day.

Below, right: Füsingharde. Two crossed keys are depicted.

The keys are a reference to Saint Peter, the patron of Schleswig Cathedral. The territory of the hundred originated from the sphere of interest of the Schleswig bishop’s former bailiwick.

Window, right

Motive, southern side:

Despite the missing window element, the motives of the four lions facing each other are clearly recognisable. These are probably the Schleswig lions that represent the Duchy of Schleswig and originate from the Danish kingdom’s coat of arms. 

To this day, the coat of arms of the district of Schleswig-Flensburg shows two lions. However, the original depiction shows just two lions. Why four lions are shown here remains unclear.

Window design by: Gerd Uschkereit (1928 - 2010)

Professor at the Teacher Training College of Flensburg 1960 – 1992


Towers as far as the eye can see


240 Bismarck towers
Otto von Bismarck is commemorated by a wide variety of statues, towers, busts and other monuments. They are a product of their time and reflect the uncritical personality cult that surrounded Bismarck. The Bismarck towers represent the most visible and enduring legacy of the veneration of Bismarck to this day. 16 of these towers were built during Bismarck’s life between 1869 and 1898. After his death in 1898, Bismarck’s popularity continued to grow. By 1934, the number of Bismarck towers (in various formats) had increased to 240 worldwide.


Bismarck tower on Knivsberg

The most northerly tower was opened in 1901 on Knivsberg in Northern Schleswig. It was one of the largest monuments in the German Empire and at the same time reflected the German claim to Northern Schleswig. Even before the referendum that took place in 1920, the statue there was dismantled and initially transported to Rendsburg only to be returned to Scheersberg later. Further negotiations in the following years resulted in the Bismarck statue finally being erected on Aschberg, near Ascheffel, in the Hütten Hills Hüttener Berge).

The remaining tower on Knivsberg was blown up at the end of the war in 1945 by former Danish resistance fighters.


Schleswig-Holstein’s Bismarck towers
During World War II, many Bismarck towers disappeared, either because they were destroyed or used for the National Socialists’ armaments industry. In addition, after 1945 and a reappraisal of the view of Bismarck many monuments were removed entirely. Nevertheless, 146 towers still exist to this day in Germany along with 27 abroad.

01) The photo shows the guests at the ceremony marking the opening of the Bismarck tower on Knivsberg in August 1901. The copper statue of Bismarck stands in the centre of the tower. Above the statue is Bismarck’s sentence “We Germans fear God, but nothing else in the world” and the year 1864, the date of victory in the German-Danish war. Below the statue are the German imperial eagle and the coat of arms of Schleswig-Holstein with the inscription “Up ewig ungedeelt”, which means “forever united”. This reflected the national view that Northern Schleswig was an inalienable part of the German Empire.

02) The towers at Scheersberg (Quern), Aumühle, Bad Schwartau, Friedrichsruh, Itzehoe, Lütjenburg and Plön have survived up till now. The wooden tower in Malente (demolition in 1918) and the tower on Kvisberg (not marked on the map, near Aabenraa, Denmark) no longer exist.

= Bismarck towers still existing

= Bismarck towers no longer existing


From herring to battleship

Personality cult surrounding Otto von Bismarck
Venerated as the “founder of the German Empire” on the one hand, rejected by free-thinking and liberal-minded persons on the other, Bismarck always had his supporters and opponents. Initially celebrated as the founder of the German Empire, his reputation after 1871 suffered amid economic and confessional problems. In 1890, after the death of Wilhelm I and his son Friedrich, Wilhelm II, the new Emperor, dismissed the chancellor. In his view, Bismarck’s obsolete and conservative policies no longer contributed to securing the Empire and furthering its expansionist ambitions. In particular, he was critical about the acquisition of overseas colonies.


Veneration of Bismarck
Bismarck retired to Friedrichsruh in Sachsenwald near Hamburg. A new wave of veneration set in, focusing on Bismarck as the founder of the German Reich and the German national state. His death in 1898 prompted a further surge in popularity. A remarkable aspect was that, in most cases, it was not the political elite that promoted the projects to erect monuments in honour of Bismarck. In many places, simple craftsmen, farmers and students in the region joined forces to erect a memorial to the founder of the German Empire – for example here on Scheersberg. It was not just monuments such as towers and statues that were built to honour him. Roads and warships – and even the Bismarck herring – were also named after him.


Province of Schleswig-Holstein
The personality cult surrounding Bismarck was especially significant in Schleswig-Holstein.  Schleswig and Holstein were united to form a Prussian province in 1867 as a result of his militant policy. This involved far-reaching changes in the laws, politics and regional administration. All citizens were deemed equal under the law. The original hundreds and offices were re-divided into districts by a territorial reform. Administration and jurisprudence were separated from each other.

At the same time, the national conflict was intensified by the wave of Prussification (the region became Prussian). This culminated in the vote in 1920 and the new boundary. In Angeln, Bismarck was also instrumentalised as a heroic figure to further identification with “Germanness” and deliberately set the region apart from Denmark.

01) On Otto von Bismarck’s 80th birthday, a large crowd gathered before the retirement residence of Bismarck in Friedrichsruh. Above all, students travelled to Schleswig-Holstein on that day to pay homage to the “founder of the German Empire”. Even after his removal from the post of Imperial Chancellor, Bismarck continued to engage in political life and enjoyed huge support in various parts of society.


This is not a watch tower

Even during Otto von Bismarck’s lifetime, there were efforts to erect a monument to Bismarck in the region of Angeln to express the gratitude to him for “liberating” the region from the Danish kingdom and establishing the German Empire. Otto von Bismarck died in July 1898 in Friedrichsruh, near Aumühle, in Schleswig-Holstein. Not quite two years later, the foundation stones for the tower on Scheersberg were laid.


The tower was built with donations
The enormous relevance for the German-minded population was very clearly reflected in the financing of the building project. In all, 366 individuals, families, associations and municipalities from the region of Angeln and beyond provided funds for the construction with voluntary donations. The total cost of the construction amounted to 30,000 marks. Of that sum, 26,000 marks were raised through donations. The share that the population raised was immense. Translated into kind, it represented more than 150,000 litres of full-fat milk from Angeln at that time.

The huge support and interest was also very evident on the day of the opening ceremony. On 5 June 1903, more than 2,000 persons took part in the celebrations on Scheersberg.

“With regard to the idea to build the tower, we can today say that it arose from the wish to express gratitude to the great chancellor of the later united German Empire for his courageous support for the rights of the duchies.”

Excerpt from minutes about Scheersberg around 1900


Memorial at the most beautiful site in Angeln
The tower was built from 1900 to 1903. According to the commemorative publication marking the start of construction, Scheersberg was chosen because it was the most beautiful site in Angeln. It also mentioned that the significant sites of the German-Danish conflicts of 1848 and 1864 (Dybbøl and Sønderborg – the German names at the time were "Düppel" and "Sonderburg") could be seen from the vantage point. 

01) The tower took almost three years to build. This contemporary photo was shot after more than half of the construction period. It shows craftsmen on the right-hand side by the entry to the tower and representatives of the district administration assessing the progress made on the left-hand side.

02) More than 2,000 persons gathered at Scheersberg for the official ceremony to open the Bismarck tower in June 1903. In the background, these guests can be seen in front of the entrance to the tower. The excursion pavilion can be seen to the right of the tower. This had already been built as a place to stay on Scheersberg before the tower. It was later demolished. In the foreground, number 1 shows members of the Thomsen family (Scheersberg restaurant). Photo slightly cut cropped.