History

History is alive in many parts along the Baltic coast. Explore long gone times by discovering Middle-Age churches, architectural masterpieces of the 19th century and examples of a more recent past including GDR times. Experience a piece of German history on guided tours and walks, round trips and boat tours or start your very own exploration of the area. Below you will find an overview of the area's history along and around the Baltic Sea.
church Katharinenkirche Luebeckchurch Katharinenkirche LuebeckDoberan Minster

Timeline

8th century Slavic people settle on the island of Fehmarn and name it "Vemorje" (meaning: in the sea)
 
10th century First written records by chronicler Adam von Bremen tell about the island of Ruegen although other people had already settled on the island before that: the Rugians 3rd - 6th century and Rani 7th - 13th century.
 
round 1000 The roots of today's Hanseatic city of Luebeck lie on the estuary of the river Schwartau into the river Trave where the settlement "Liubice" was built as a princely site, settlement of craftsmen and first trading site.
 
12th century christianisation of Fehmarn
 
1161 Rostock first mentioned by Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus
 
1163 Island of Poel first mentioned in records
 
round 1200 Settlers from Westphalia and Lower Saxony erect small hamlets, not inhabited by Slavic Wends, called Brunshaupten and Arendsee on the area of today's seaside resort of Kuehlungsborn.
 
1210 Inauguration of the Rude Monastery marks the start of the settlement in the area round Gluecksburg.
 
1218 Heinrich Borwin I, sovereign of Mecklenburg and ruler of Rostock grants the city of Rostock its town charter.
 
round 1230 The modern towns of Tarnewitz and Redewish are mentioned in a register in Ratzeburg and are known as the roots of today's seaside resort of Boltenhagen.
 
1233 Count Adolf IV gives orders for the town "Holstenstadt tom Kyle" to be built on the peninsula of a part of the Firth of Kiel. Today it is know as "Kleiner Kiel".
 
1234 Slavic Prince Witzlaw I of Garz awards the town charter to the little fishing village Stralow on the Strelasund (today's city of Stralsund)
 
1238 Alt Gaarz first mentioned. However, wind, waves and floods eroded this old fortress (today: seaside resort of Rerik)
 
1240 Flensburg first mentioned in records.
 
1260 Timmendorfer Strand founded by Slavic Wends and first mentioned as "Klein Timmendorf"
 
1293 cities of Luebeck, Wismar, Greifswald, Rostock and Stralsund found the Hanseatic League. The cities sign a treaty promising mutual aid on water and on land.
 
round 1300 Luebeck is elected capital of the hanse
 

Hanseatic League (Hanse is old German meaning union, league alliance)

The roots of the Hanse are to be found in the middle of the 13th century. It started from a union of tradesmen and soon became an economic alliance of Low German cities which initiated a lively trade between Western and Eastern Europe and therefore dominated the North of Germany and the whole of the Baltic Sea area.
The aims of the Hanseatic League were securing trading paths across the Baltic, to extend their own privileges in other countries and give aid in wars.
Koggechurch Katharinenkirche Luebecksteeple in Luebeck

The Hanse consisted of 70 cities and another 100 to 130 members that stood in lose relation to the alliance. From the southern part of the Baltic Sea the cities of Luebeck, Wismar, Rostock, Stralsund, Greifwald, Demmin, Anklam, Stettin, Danzig and Riga were members of the Hanseatic League.
Rich merchants built impressive houses for themselves and supported the building of churches financially. Today a number of witnesses of that period can still be explored.
 
1328 The Court of Mueritz (today: Graal-Mueritz) first mentioned in records. The word Mueritz is Slavonic for area by the sea.
 
1419 Rostock University Foundation of "Alma mater rostochiensis" (University of Rostock)
Rostock University is, apart from the British Isles, the oldest in the whole of Northern Europe. The main building was constructed in 1870 in the style of Mecklenburg Renaissance to plans of the architect Hermann Willebrand. Much earlier, in 1844, the south wing was built with then typical arches according to sketches by G. A. Demmler.

Today Rostock University is the biggest in the whole of Mecklenburg-Prepomerania with around 15.000 students.
 
15th century Pirates (the Victual brothers) conquer the fortress of Glambeck on today's island of Fehmarn
 
1669 nine cities meet for the last time in Luebeck. Only Luebeck, Hamburg and Bremen remained heirs of the Hanseatic League until well into the 20th century. Luebeck, however loses its status of a free city due to the elimination of imperial independency in 1937 by the National Socialists (NSDAP).
 
Between 1600
and 1900
the coastal region is shaken immensely by power fights between Prussians, Danes, Swedes as well as Brandenburgian and Wallenstein's troops. In its cause the island of Poel, Fehmarn and Ruegen but also Stralsund and the peninsula Wustrow near Rerik are temporarily ruled by Danes and Swedes.
 
1793 Heiligendamm was founded

Seaside resort of Heiligendamm

Friedrich Franz I, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin founded on advice of his private doctor the first German seaside resort, today Heiligendamm. It was build based on the examples of already existing English resorts.
a tablet on an erratic block bearing the inscription: Friedrich Franz I. founded the first German seaside resortpier in Heiligendamm

Heiligendamm used to be a grand ducal summer residence and was very popular amongst the higher society.
At the beginning two ships, so-called sloops, served as a bathing platform. They replaced the bathing machines. Later a lido for ladies and gentlemen, of course strictly separated from each other, was opened.
Restoration of Germany's oldest seaside resort start in 1996 and is ongoing.
 
1803 Count Bothmer of Kluetz and his family take the first bath in the Baltic Sea in today's Boltenhagen from a bathing machine.
 
1813 first visitors come to the coast of Groemitz to bath from bathing machines. This marked the start of the little fishing village Groemitz becoming an important seaside resort.
 
1819 - 1820 bathing tourism commences in Mueritz (today Graal-Mueritz) and gets into full swing from the 1930s.
 
1823 the first horse race course opened
 

Horse race course between Bad Doberan and Heiligendamm

In 1823 the first horse race course in Europe between Bad Doberan and the seaside resort of Heiligendamm opened. The grand duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin who used to come to Bad Doberan as a summer residence donated the course.
Every year in August local people as well as Kings and noblemen from all over the world met at the race course to see and be seen. Thoroughbreds, half bloods and cold bloods competed for prices and trophies.
"Ostsee-Meeting" race

Unfortunately, this tradition was interrupted for many years. First because of the who world wars and then again later after a few races (1956-1961) when money was exremely short to maintain the race course. After it had to be closed it was used for agricultural purposes. Only at the beginning of August in 1993, just in time for the 200th anniversary celebration of Germany's oldest seaside resort of Heiligendamm, it was reopened. 12.000 fans celebrated the first thoroughbred horse race sind 1939. Ever since the "Ostsee-Meeting" races takes place every year.
 
1852 Germany's first sea-going screw steamer is completed in Rostock in Wilhelm Zeitz' and Albrecht Tischbein's shipyard and machine manufactory, which was founded in 1850.
 
1871 Kiel acts war harbour of the German Reich.
 
1872 A devastating storm tide works havoc in many places along the southern part of the Baltic coast and destroys a lot of buildings and piers.
 
14.08.1879 Merchant Leonhardt Tietz opened a haberdashery in Stralsund's Osseneyer Strasse which proofed to be the cradle of the Kaufhof Corporation.
Merchant Leonhardt Tietz opened a haberdasheryFlora und Leonhard Tietz
From 1880 Timmendorfer Strand expands into a seaside resort
 
Round 1880 first steamboats appear off the coast of Boltenhagen. Passengers are brought by fisher boats to the steamships.
 
1881 With a seed capital of 1.000 thalers Rudolph Karstadt opened his first clothes and fabric shop in Wismar. It was Germany's first Karstadt department store.
 
In 1882 the first beach chair was constructed
 

Beach chair constructed by Wilhelm Bartelmann

Wilhelm Bartelmann, the then court basket maker, designed a beach chair on request of a woman suffering from rheumatism who wanted to enjoy the healing sea air protected from the elements. Already one year later, in 1883, a chair for two was built.
Wilhelm Bartelmannone of the first beach chairmodern beach chair on the Baltic coast

In the summer of 1883 Elise Bartelmann, wife to Wilhelm Bartelmann, ran the world's first ever beach chair hire close to the lighthouse of Warnemuende.
The beach chair is enjoying an ever growing popularity. The wicker chair is available for up to 3 people in various widths and shapes. Choose the angular-shaped chair home in the North Sea area or the round version typically found in the Baltic region. Even a model for dogs was constructed.
The wicker beach chair used for a "family" photo at the G8 summit is probably the most famous beach chair across the world. It was constructed in Heringsdorf by Germany's oldest beach chair manufacturer Korb Limited Company. The picture of the 6 metre wide chair offering place for 8 people went around the world.
 
1884 Doctor Carl von Mettenheimer opened the first children's hospital at the Baltic Sea in Graal-Mueritz.
 
1884 First bathers arrive in Arendsee, a former part of today's seaside of Kuehlungsborn.
 
1895 Opening ceremony of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Canal (today's Kiel Canal). It is roughly 100 km long and connects Brunsbuettel on the river Elbe just off the estuary into the North Sea and Kiel in Baltic Sea.
 
29.05.1898 Completion of Germany's oldest pier in modern times in Ahlbeck.
 
1897 Passengers' and goods' transports commence between Sassnitz on the island of Ruegen and Trelleborg in Sweden. Since 1909 train ferries have been in operation.
 
Round 1900 Alt Gaarz (today's seaside resort of Rerik) starts becomming a seaside resort.
 
1905 Piers are erected in the resorts of Graal and Mueritz.
pier of Graal-Mueritz
1911 the 300 metre-long pier in Boltenhagen is built.
 
1911 Kellenhusen gets a 420 metres long pier.
 
1912 The first big pier is completed in Groemitz and passenger steamboats can now moor here too. In its wake visitors' numbers jump up as 90 % of guests come by boat.
With the piers the dangerous change from the steamboats to the smaller boats to get on shore became unnecessary.
 
1918 In Kiel, navy and workers mark the start of the German Revolution and foundation of the Weimar Republic.
 
1920 Referenda in the German-Danish borderland brought important decisions.
- 89 % of the Gluecksburg's inhabitants decide to remain German.
- The modern-day German-Danish border is constituted.
- Nordschleswig becomes Danish and Flensburg a border city.
 
1929 Start of the world economic crisis. The number of unemployed in Flensburg reaches approximately 9.000.
 
1936 kiel is an Olympic city for the first time.
 
1936 completion of the Ruegendamm
The island of Ruegen is connected to the mainland for the very first time.
 
1939 The aircraft manufacturer "Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugwerke Warnemünde" are the pioneers of some important technical creations. The immensely innovative and creative engineers helped the company to attain 1.352 patents in aviation and another 578 trademark rights for propulsion units. Inventions of world importance are the development of the board catapults (tests started in 1927), the world's first ever jets and the catapult seat (both 1939).
 

Ernst Heinrich Heinkel (1888 - 1958)

Already at a very young age Heinkel was impressed by a new, ground breaking means of transport - the aeroplane. He worked his way from a designer to becoming a chief designer and later the technical director of various aircraft manufactures.
"Ernst Heinkel Aircraft Manufacturer Warnemünde"

He set up his first designer offer in Travemuende which on 12. December 1922 became the "Ernst Heinkel Aircraft Manufacturer Warnemünde". Under Heinkel's management the company designed numerous types of fast training, sporting, commercial and military aircrafts of world importance. Many of them won or died extremely well in international water plane competitions.
"Ernst Heinkel Aircraft Manufacturer Warnemünde"model aeroplane in an exhibition

The success of the company proofed the engineers' inventive talents and in 1981 the name "Ernst Heinkel" was added to the list of the "International Aerospace Hall of Fame" in the USA. Although the past of Heinkel looked at controversially, the inventions connected to his name, however, are undoubtedly worth mentioning in line with other aerospace pioneers from across the world.
 
1941 Rough sea and ice movements destroy the piers and promenade of the seaside resort of Graal-Mueritz.
 
1953 Operation "Rose" dispossesses many hotel and guesthouse owners along the Baltic coast of today's Federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The properties were handed over to the union of the GDR (FDGB) for renting purposes.
 
1961 GDR laws prohibited all water sports on the Baltic Sea.
 
1962 First ever sex shop in the world opened by Beate Uhse in Flensburg. To start with it ran under the name of "Speciality shop for marital hygiene".
"Speciality shop for marital hygiene"erotism museum Berlin
1963 The brigde "Fehmarnsundbruecke" connects the island of Fehmarn and the mainland.
 
1972 Kiel is host for Olympic sailing competitions for the second time.
 
1972 In the GDR most of the agriculture was run by the state. On the island of Poel the state-owned "Das Volkseigenen Gut Insel Poel" was in charge of the island's plant production. Primarily, crop farming served the breeding and propagation of seeds. Rapeseed bred on the island of Poel covered 75 % of the GDR's seed demand.
 
1978 Fehmarn is cut off by snow.
 
1987 Parts of Luebeck's old town are nominated UNESCO cultural world heritage. Its unique and distinctive skyline, the completely preserved
pre-industrial building structure and archaeological explorations of Luebeck's Middle-Age were deciding factors.
bird's eye view Luebeck's old town
2002 With adding Stralsund and Wismar to the list of world heritage, UNESCO acknowledges the extensive measures taken to protect and maintain the historic town centres.
Today's old town of Stralsund pretty much resembles the plans of its centre during the period of the Hanseatic League (14th century).
Wismar on the other side is the biggest, well-kept Hanseatic city in the southern Baltic Sea area.
WismarStralsund
2003 Germany's longest waterside promenade in Kuehlungsborn is reopened to the public after extensive restoration and redevelopment. It is more than 3 km long.
 
July 2006 Diving gondolas in Zinnowitz on the island of Usedom take visitors under the sea. This worldwide novel prototype is quickly followed by gondolas in Sellin on the island of Ruegen and in the seaside resort of Groemitz in the summers of 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Diving gondola in Zinnowitz on the island of Usedom
July 2006 The American President George W. Bush visits the Hanseatic city of Stralsund on invitation of chancellor Angela Merkel.
 
June 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm
Russia and the heads of state and government of the seven leading industrial nations in the world meet on invatation of the German government.
 
2007 Ruegen's new bridge, Germany's longest of its kind, creates a second connection from the island to the mainland.
Ruegen's new bridge, Germany's longest of its kind
May 2010 The "European Museum of the Year Award" also known as "Oscar for Museum" is given to the German Oceanographic Museum called "Ozeaneum" in Stralsund.
"Ozeaneum" in Stralsund"European Museum of the Year Award"

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