Heligoland is a small German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...


Formerly Danish
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 and British
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 possessions, the islands (population 1,127) are located in the Heligoland Bight
Heligoland Bight
The Heligoland Bight, also known as Helgoland Bight, is a bay which forms the southern part of the German Bight, itself a bay of the North Sea, located at the mouth of the Elbe river...

 (part of the German Bight
German Bight
German Bight is the southeastern bight of the North Sea bounded by the Netherlands and Germany to the south, and Denmark and Germany to the east . To the north and west it is limited by the Dogger Bank. The Bight contains the Frisian and Danish Islands. The Wadden Sea is approximately ten to...

) in the south-eastern corner of the North Sea. They are the only German islands not in the immediate vicinity of the mainland and are approximately three hours sailing time from Cuxhaven at the mouth of the River Elbe.

In addition to German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, the local population, who are ethnic Frisians
The Frisians are a Germanic ethnic group native to the coastal parts of the Netherlands and Germany. They are concentrated in the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen and, in Germany, East Frisia and North Frisia, that was a part of Denmark until 1864. They inhabit an area known as Frisia...

, speak the Heligolandic
Heligolandic is the dialect of the North Frisian language spoken on the German island of Heligoland in the North Sea. It is spoken today by only a few hundred of the island's 1,650 inhabitants and is also taught in schools....

 dialect of the North Frisian language
North Frisian language
North Frisian is a minority language of Germany, spoken by about 10,000 people in North Frisia. The language is part of the larger group of the West Germanic Frisian languages.-Classification:...

 called Halunder. Heligoland was formerly called Heyligeland, or "holy land", possibly due to the island's long association with the god Forseti
Forseti is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. He is generally identified with Fosite, a god of the Frisians...



Heligoland is located 46 kilometres (28.6 mi) off the German coastline and consists of two islands: the populated triangular 1 square kilometre main island (Hauptinsel) to the west and the Düne ("dune," Heligolandic: de Halem) to the east. The former is what the place name "Heligoland" normally is used to refer to; the latter is somewhat smaller at 0.7 square kilometre, lower, surrounded by sand beaches and not permanently inhabited.

The main island is commonly divided into the Unterland ("Lower Land," Heligolandic: deät Deelerlun) at sea level (to the right on the photograph, where the harbour is located), the Oberland ("Upper Land," Heligolandic: deät Boperlun) consisting of the plateau visible in the photographs and the Mittelland ("Middle Land") between them on one side of the island. The Mittelland came into being in 1947 as a result of explosions detonated by the British Royal Navy (the so-called "Big Bang"; see below).

The main island also features small beaches in the north and the south and drops to the sea 50 metres (164 ft) in the north, west and southwest. In the latter, the ground continues to drop underwater to a depth of 56 metres (183.7 ft) below sea level. Northwest of the island proper Heligoland's famous landmark is found: The Lange Anna
Lange Anna
Lange Anna , is a high sea stack of Buntsandstein in the North Sea island of Heligoland, Germany. Formerly it was also known as Hengst or Mönch, but its real local name is Nathurn Stak . Climbing the stack is not allowed but tourists can look at the rock from a distance.Lange Anna is somewhat...

("Long Anna" or "Tall Anna") which is a free standing rock column (or stack
Stack (geology)
A stack is a geological landform consisting of a steep and often vertical column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast, isolated by erosion. Stacks are formed through processes of coastal geomorphology, which are entirely natural. Time, wind and water are the only factors involved in the...

), 47 metres (154.2 ft) high and weighing about 25,000 tons.

The two islands were connected until 1720, when the natural connection was destroyed by a storm flood. The highest point is on the main island, reaching 61 metres (200.1 ft) above sea level.

Although culturally closer to North Frisia
North Frisia
North Frisia or Northern Friesland is the northernmost portion of Frisia, located primarily in Germany between the rivers Eider and Wiedau/Vidå. It includes a number of islands, e.g., Sylt, Föhr, Amrum, Nordstrand, and Heligoland.-History:...

 in the German district of Nordfriesland
Nordfriesland, English "Northern Friesland" or "North Frisia", is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It includes almost all of traditional North Frisia along with adjacent areas to the east and south and is bounded by the districts of Schleswig-Flensburg and Dithmarschen, the North Sea and...

, the two islands are part of the district of Pinneberg
Pinneberg (district)
Pinneberg is a district in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Steinburg and Segeberg, the city of Hamburg and the state of Lower Saxony .-History:...

 in the state of Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the sixteen states of Germany, comprising most of the historical duchy of Holstein and the southern part of the former Duchy of Schleswig...

. The main island has a good harbour and is frequented mostly by sailing yachts.


Heligoland sports a very healthy offshore climate, being almost free of pollen and thus ideal for people with pollen allergies
An Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid...

. Since there is no land mass in the vicinity, temperatures rarely drop below -5 °C even in the winter. At times, winter temperatures can be higher than in Hamburg by up to 10 C-change because cold winds from Russia are weakened. While spring tends to be comparatively cool, autumn on Heligoland is often longer and warmer than on the mainland and statistically, the climate generally is sunnier.

Due to the mild climate, figs
FIGS is an acronym for French, Italian, German, Spanish. These are usually the first four languages chosen to localize products into when a company enters the European market....

 have been reported to have been grown on the island as early as 1911 and a 2005 article mentioned Japanese bananas
Musa basjoo
Musa basjoo, known variously as Japanese Banana, Japanese Fiber Banana or Hardy Banana, is a species belonging to the genus Musa. It was previously thought to have originated from the Ryukyu islands of Japan, from where it was first described in cultivation...

, figs, agave
Agave is a genus of monocots. The plants are perennial, but each rosette flowers once and then dies ; they are commonly known as the century plant....

s, palm trees and other exotic plants that had been planted on Heligoland and were thriving. There still is an old mulberry tree in the Upper Town.


The island of Heligoland is a geological oddity; the presence of the main island's characteristic red sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....

 in the middle of the German Bight is unusual. It is the only such formation of cliffs along the continental coast of the North Sea. The formation itself, called Bunter
Bunter (geology)
Bunter beds are sandstone deposits containing rounded pebbles, such as can notably be found in Warwickshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Devon and Dorset in England...

, is from the early Triassic
The Triassic is a geologic period and system that extends from about 250 to 200 Mya . As the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic follows the Permian and is followed by the Jurassic. Both the start and end of the Triassic are marked by major extinction events...

 geologic age. It is older than the white chalk that underlies the island Düne, the same rock that forms the white cliffs of Dover
White cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover are cliffs which form part of the British coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliffs are part of the North Downs formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to , owes its striking façade to its composition of chalk accentuated by streaks of black flint...

 in England, and cliffs of Danish and German islands in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

. In fact, a small chalk rock close to Heligoland, called witt Kliff (white cliff), is known to have existed within sight of the island to the west until the early 18th century, when storm floods finally eroded
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 it to below sea level.

Heligoland's rock is significantly harder than the postglacial sediments and sands forming the islands and coastlines to the east of the island. This is why the core of the island, which a thousand years ago was still surrounded by a large, low-lying marshland and sand dunes separated from coast in the east only by narrow channels, has remained to this day, although the onset of the North Sea has long eroded away all of its surroundings. A small piece of Heligoland's sand dunes remains — the sand isle just across the harbour called Düne (Dune), which today holds Heligoland's airstrip. A referendum in June 2011 dismissed a proposal to reconnect the main island to the Düne islet with a landfill
Land reclamation
Land reclamation, usually known as reclamation, is the process to create new land from sea or riverbeds. The land reclaimed is known as reclamation ground or landfill.- Habitation :...



The Heligoland flag is very similar to its Coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

. A tricolour flag with three horizontal bars, from top to bottom: green, red and white. Each of the colours has its symbolic meaning, as expressed in its motto:
German Low German
Low German
Low German or Low Saxon is an Ingvaeonic West Germanic language spoken mainly in northern Germany and the eastern part of the Netherlands...

West Frisian English

Grün ist das Land,
rot ist die Kant',
weiß ist der Sand,
das sind die Farben von Helgoland.

Green is dat Land,
roat is de Kant,
witt est de Sunn,
dat sünd de Farven van't Hilligelunn.

Grien is it lân,
Read is de râne,
Wyt is it sân,
Dit binne de kleuren fan Helgolân.

Green is the land,
Red is the brim,
White is the sand,
These are the colours of Heligoland.


The German Bight and the area around the island is known to have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Flint tools have been recovered from the bottom of the sea surrounding Heligoland. On the Oberland, prehistoric burial mounds were visible until the late 19th century and excavations showed skeletons and artefacts. Moreover, prehistoric copper plates have been found under water near the island; those plates were almost certainly made on the Oberland.

In 697, Radbod
Radbod, King of the Frisians
Radbod was the king of Frisia from c. 680 until his death. He is often considered the last independent ruler of Frisia before Frankish domination. He defeated Charles Martel at Cologne. Eventually, however, Charles prevailed and compelled the Frisians to submit...

, the last Frisian king, retreated to the then-single island after his defeat by the Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 — so it is written in the Life of Willebrord by Alcuin
Alcuin of York or Ealhwine, nicknamed Albinus or Flaccus was an English scholar, ecclesiastic, poet and teacher from York, Northumbria. He was born around 735 and became the student of Archbishop Ecgbert at York...

. By 1231, the island was listed as the property of the Danish king Valdemar II
Valdemar II of Denmark
Valdemar II , called Valdemar the Victorious or Valdemar the Conqueror , was the King of Denmark from 1202 until his death in 1241. The nickname Sejr is a later invention and was not used during the King's own lifetime...

. Archaeological findings from the 12th to 14th century suggest the processing of copper ore on the island.

Traditional economic activities included fishing, hunting birds and seals, wrecking
Wrecking (shipwreck)
Wrecking is the practice of taking valuables from a shipwreck which has foundered near or close to shore. Often an unregulated activity of opportunity in coastal communities, wrecking has been subjected to increasing regulation and evolved into what is now known as marine salvage...

 and — very important for many overseas powers — piloting overseas ships into the harbours of Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

 cities such as Bremen and Hamburg. Moreover, in some periods Heligoland was an excellent base point for huge herring
Herring is an oily fish of the genus Clupea, found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea. Three species of Clupea are recognized. The main taxa, the Atlantic herring and the Pacific herring may each be divided into subspecies...

 catches. As a result, until 1714 ownership switched several times between Denmark and the Duchy of Schleswig
Schleswig or South Jutland is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany...

, with one period of control by Hamburg. In August 1714, it was captured by Denmark, and it remained Danish until 1807.

19th century

On 11 September 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, brought to the British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 Admiralty the despatches from Admiral Thomas McNamara Russell
Thomas McNamara Russell
Vice-Admiral Thomas McNamara Russell was an admiral in the Royal Navy. Russell's naval career spanned the American Revolutionary War, French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic War....

 announcing Heligoland's capitulation to the British. Heligoland became a centre of smuggling and espionage against Napoleon. Denmark then formally ceded Heligoland to the United Kingdom by the Treaty of Kiel
Treaty of Kiel
The Treaty of Kiel or Peace of Kiel was concluded between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Kingdom of Sweden on one side and the Kingdoms of Denmark and Norway on the other side on 14 January 1814 in Kiel...

 (14 January 1814). Thousands of Germans came to Britain and joined the King's German Legion
King's German Legion
The King's German Legion was a British Army unit of expatriate German personnel, 1803–16. The Legion achieved the distinction of being the only German force to fight without interruption against the French during the Napoleonic Wars....

 via Heligoland.

In 1826, Heligoland became a seaside spa and soon it turned into a popular tourist resort for the German upper-class. The island also attracted artists and writers, especially from Germany and even Austria who enjoyed the freedom of the benignly ruled (British) island, including Heinrich Heine
Heinrich Heine
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine was one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century. He was also a journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder by composers such as Robert Schumann...

 and August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben
' , who used Hoffmann von Fallersleben as his pen name, was a German poet. He is best known for writing "Das Lied der Deutschen", its third stanza now being the national anthem of Germany, and a number of popular children's songs.- Biography :Hoffmann was born in Fallersleben , Brunswick-Lüneburg,...

. It was a refuge for revolutionaries of the 1830 and 1848 German revolutions
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...


Britain gave up the islands to Germany in 1890 in the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty
Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty
The Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty of 1 July 1890 was an agreement between the United Kingdom and the German Empire concerning mainly territorial interests in Africa.-Terms:...

. A "grandfathering
Grandfather clause
Grandfather clause is a legal term used to describe a situation in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future situations. It is often used as a verb: to grandfather means to grant such an exemption...

"/optant approach prevented the Heligolanders (as they were named in the British measures) from forfeiting advantages because of this imposed change of status.

Heligoland has an important place in the history of the study of ornithology, and especially the understanding of migration. The book Heligoland, an Ornithological Observatory by Heinrich Gätke
Heinrich Gätke
Heinrich Gätke was a German ornithologist and artist. The son of a baker, he was sent to study commerce in Berlin but became a painter. In 1837 he travelled to the island of Heligoland for the first time. From 1841 he decided to live there and from 1843 he studied birds on the island...

, published in German in 1890 and in English in 1895, described an astonishing array of migrant birds on the island and was a major influence on the future studies of bird migration, in Britain in particular.

20th century

Under the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, the islands became a major naval base, and during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 the civilian population was evacuated to the mainland. The first naval engagement of the war, the Battle of Heligoland Bight, was fought nearby in the first month of the war. The islanders returned in 1918, but during the Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 era the naval base was reactivated. Lager Helgoland
Lager Helgoland
Lager Helgoland was a Nazi concentration camp on Alderney in the Channel Islands, named after the Frisian Island of Heligoland , formerly a Danish and then British possession located off the German North Sea coastline and belonging to Germany since 1890.The Germans built four concentration camps...

, the Nazi labour camp on Alderney
Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands. It is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown dependency. It is long and wide. The area is , making it the third-largest island of the Channel Islands, and the second largest in the Bailiwick...

, was named after the island.

Werner Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...

 first formulated the equation underlying his picture of quantum mechanics
Heisenberg picture
In physics, the Heisenberg picture is a formulation of quantum mechanics in which the operators incorporate a dependency on time, but the state vectors are time-independent. It stands in contrast to the Schrödinger picture in which the operators are constant and the states evolve in time...

 while on Heligoland in the 1920s. While a student of Arnold Sommerfeld
Arnold Sommerfeld
Arnold Johannes Wilhelm Sommerfeld was a German theoretical physicist who pioneered developments in atomic and quantum physics, and also educated and groomed a large number of students for the new era of theoretical physics...

 at Munich in the early 1920s, Werner Heisenberg (1901–75) first met the Danish physicist Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in...

. He and Bohr went for long hikes in the mountains and discussed the failure of existing theories to account for the new experimental results on the quantum structure of matter. Following these discussions, Heisenberg plunged into several months of intensive theoretical research, but met with continual frustration. Finally, suffering from a severe attack of hay fever, he retreated to the treeless (and pollenless) island of Heligoland in the summer of 1925. There he conceived the basis of the quantum theory.

World War II

The area was the setting of the aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight
Battle of the Heligoland Bight (1939)
The Battle of the Heligoland Bight was the first "named" air battle of the Second World War, which began the longest air campaign of the war, the Defence of the Reich. On 18 December 1939, a force of three RAF bomber squadrons with a total of 24 aircraft set off to engage German ships in the...

 in 1939, a result of British bombing attempts on German Navy vessels in that area. The area was frequently mined by British aircraft.

During World War II the civilian population remained on the main island and were protected from Allied bombing in rock shelters. Following the island's penultimate air raid, on 18 April 1945 using 969 Allied aircraft, the island was evacuated. Most of the 128 casualties during the WW II period were anti-aircraft crews.
Bombing and mining of Heligoland during World War II
Date/Target Result
11 March, 19 March, 24 August 1944 No. 466 Squadron RAAF conducted minelaying operations.
18 April 1944 No. 466 Squadron RAAF conducted bombing operations.
29 August 1944 Mission 584: 11 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 34 B-24 Liberator
B-24 Liberator
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber...

s bomb Heligoland Island; 3 B-24s are damaged. Escort is provided by 169 P-38 Lightning
P-38 Lightning
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament...

s and P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

s; 7 P-51s are damaged.
3 September 1944 Operation Aphrodite
Operation Aphrodite
Aphrodite and Anvil were the World War II code names of United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy operations to use B-17 and PB4Y bombers as precision-guided munitions against bunkers such as those of Operation Crossbow....

 B-17 63954 attempt on U-boat pens failed when US Navy controller flew aircraft into Düne Island by mistake.
11 September 1944 Operation Aphrodite
Operation Aphrodite
Aphrodite and Anvil were the World War II code names of United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy operations to use B-17 and PB4Y bombers as precision-guided munitions against bunkers such as those of Operation Crossbow....

 B-17 30180 attempt on U-boat pens hit by enemy flak and crashed into sea.
29/30 September 1944 15 Lancasters conducted minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
5/6 October 1944 10 Halifaxes conducted minelaying off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
15 October 1944 Operation Aphrodite
Operation Aphrodite
Aphrodite and Anvil were the World War II code names of United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy operations to use B-17 and PB4Y bombers as precision-guided munitions against bunkers such as those of Operation Crossbow....

 B-17 30039 *Liberty Belle* and B-17 37743 attempt on U-boat pens destroyed many of the buildings of the Unterland.
26/27 October 1944 10 Lancasters of No 1 Group conducted minelaying off Heligoland. 1 Lancaster minelayer lost. and the islands were evacuated the following night.
22/23 November 1944 17 Lancasters conducted minelaying off Heligoland and in the mouth of the River Elbe without loss.
23 November 1944 4 Mosquitoes conducted Ranger patrols in the Heligoland area. No aircraft lost.
31 December 1944 On Eighth Air Force
Eighth Air Force
The Eighth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Global Strike Command . It is headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana....

 Mission 772, 1 B-17 bombed Heligoland island.
4/5 February 1945 15 Lancasters and 12 Halifaxes minelaying off Heligoland and in the River Elbe. No minelaying aircraft lost.
16/17 March 1945 12 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
18 April 1945 969 aircraft - 617 Avro Lancaster
Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...

s, 332 Handley Page Halifax
Handley Page Halifax
The Handley Page Halifax was one of the British front-line, four-engined heavy bombers of the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. A contemporary of the famous Avro Lancaster, the Halifax remained in service until the end of the war, performing a variety of duties in addition to bombing...

es, 20 de Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

es bombed the Naval base, airfield, & town into crater-pitted moonscapes. 3 Halifaxes were lost. The islands were evacuated the following day.
19 April 1945 36 Lancasters of 9 and 617 Squadrons attacked coastal battery positions with Tallboy bomb
Tallboy bomb
The Tallboy or Bomb, Medium Capacity, 12,000 lb, was an earthquake bomb developed by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and deployed by the RAF in 1944...

s for no losses.


From 1945 to 1952 the uninhabited Heligoland islands were used as a bombing range. On 18 April 1947, the Royal Navy detonated 6,700 tonnes of explosives ("Big Bang" or "British Bang"), creating one of the biggest single non-nuclear detonations in history.
While aiming at the fortifications, the island's total destruction would have been accepted. The blow shook the main island several miles down to its base, changing its shape (the Mittelland was created).

In 1952, the islands were restored to the German authorities, who had to clear a huge amount of undetonated ammunition, landscape the main island, and rebuild the houses before it could be resettled.

Modern day

Heligoland is now a holiday resort and enjoys a tax-exempt status, as it is part of the EU
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 but excluded from the EU VAT area
European Union Value Added Tax Area
The European Union value added tax area is a territory consisting of all European Union member states and certain other countries which follow the European Union's rules on value added tax . The principle is also valid for some special taxes on products like alcohol and tobacco.Goods are only...

 and customs union, and consequently, much of the economy is founded on sales of cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and perfumes to tourists who visit the islands.

Also, there is a search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 (SAR) base of the DGzRS
Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger
The Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger or DGzRS is responsible for Search and Rescue in German territorial waters in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, including the Exclusive Economic Zone.The headquarters and...

, the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger ("German Maritime Search and Rescue Service") on Heligoland.

The ornithological heritage of Heligoland has also been re-established, with the Heligoland Bird Observatory
Heligoland Bird Observatory
The Heligoland Bird Observatory , one of the world's first ornithological observatories, is operated by the Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Helgoland e.V., a non-profit organization which was founded in 1991 to support research on the fauna of Heligoland, a small German archipelago, comprising...

 now being managed by the Ornithologische Arbeitsgemeinschaft Helgoland e.V. which was founded in 1991.

Before 2009, when the island was connected to the mainland network by a submarine cable, electricity on Heligoland was generated by a local diesel plant. With a length of 53 kilometres (32.9 mi) the Heligoland Power Cable is one of the longest submarine AC power cables in the world and the longest of its kind in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It was manufactured by the North German Seacable Works in a single piece and was laid by the barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

 Nostag 10 in spring 2009. The Heligoland Power Cable, which is designed for an operational voltage
Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

 of 30 kV, reaches the German mainland at Sankt Peter-Ording
Sankt Peter-Ording
Sankt Peter-Ording is a very popular German seaside spa and a municipality in the district of Nordfriesland, in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is the only German seaside resort that has a sulphur spring and thus terms itself "North Sea healing spa and sulphur spring". By overnight stays, St...


Road restrictions

There are very few cars on Heligoland. There is a special section (§50) in the German traffic regulations (Straßenverkehrsordnung) prohibiting the use of automobiles and bicycles on the island. No other region in Germany has any exceptions to the general regulations in the StVO, although other North Sea islands, such as Baltrum
Baltrum is a barrier island off the coast of East Frisia , in Germany, and is a municipality in the district of Aurich, Lower Saxony. It is located in-between the chain of the seven inhabited East Frisian Islands...

, have also banned the public from using cars and bicycles.

Except for the local ambulance van the only powered vehicles on the island are electrically powered, used primarily for moving material. Kick scooter
Kick scooter
A kick scooter or push scooter, originally scooter, is a human-powered vehicle with a handlebar, deck and wheels that is propelled by a rider pushing off the ground. The most common scooters today have two hard small wheels, are made primarily of aluminium and fold for convenience...

s are sometimes used as substitutes for bicycles.

The area received its first police car on 17 January 2006. Until then the island's policemen moved around on foot and by bicycle (being exempt from the bicycle ban).

Notable residents

  • Heinrich Gätke
    Heinrich Gätke
    Heinrich Gätke was a German ornithologist and artist. The son of a baker, he was sent to study commerce in Berlin but became a painter. In 1837 he travelled to the island of Heligoland for the first time. From 1841 he decided to live there and from 1843 he studied birds on the island...

     (1814–1897), artist and ornithologist
  • Rear Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh
    John Hindmarsh
    Rear-Admiral Sir John Hindmarsh KH RN was a naval officer and the first Governor of South Australia, from 28 December 1836 to 16 July 1838.-Early life:...

     (1785–1860), veteran of the Battle of Trafalgar
    Battle of Trafalgar
    The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

     and first governor of South Australia
    South Australia
    South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

    , was governor of Heligoland from 1840-56.
  • James Krüss
    James Krüss
    James Krüss was a German poet and writer.James Jacob Hinrich Krüss was born as the son of the electrician Ludwig Krüss and his wife Margaretha Krüss on Heligoland. In 1941, during World War II, the inhabitants of the island were evacuated to Arnstadt, Thuringia, later to Hertigswalde, near...

     (1926–1997), poet
  • Richard Mansfield
    Richard Mansfield
    Richard Mansfield was an English actor-manager best known for his performances in Shakespeare plays, Gilbert and Sullivan operas and for his portrayal of the dual title roles in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde....

     (1857–1907) actor

In culture

  • Heligoland gave its name to the Heligoland trap
    Heligoland trap
    A Heligoland trap is a large, building-sized, funnel-shaped, rigid structure of wire mesh or netting used to trap birds, so that they can be banded or otherwise studied by ornithologists....

    , used in bird ringing
    Bird ringing
    Bird ringing or bird banding is a technique used in the study of wild birds, by attaching a small, individually numbered, metal or plastic tag to their legs or wings, so that various aspects of the bird's life can be studied by the ability to re-find the same individual later...

  • Anton Bruckner
    Anton Bruckner
    Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

     composed a large scale choral work
    Helgoland (Bruckner)
    Helgoland is a piece of music by Anton Bruckner for large orchestra and male choir in the key of G minor, assigned the catalogue number WAB 71. The average performance duration ranges from 12 minutes to 15 minutes. The orchestra is composed of 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3...

     based on text about Heligoland.
  • The text of the German National Anthem
    Das Lied der Deutschen
    The "'" , has been used wholly or partially as the national anthem of Germany since 1922. The music was written by Joseph Haydn in 1797 as an anthem for the birthday of the Austrian Emperor Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire...

     was written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben during his vacation on then British-governed Heligoland.
  • "Heligoland" was a previous designation of the sea area German Bight for the purposes of the Sea Area Shipping Forecast
    Shipping Forecast
    The Shipping Forecast is a four-times-daily BBC Radio broadcast of weather reports and forecasts for the seas around the coasts of the British Isles. It is produced by the Met Office and broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The forecasts sent over the Navtex...

     on the British Broadcasting Corporation
    The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

     (BBC) between 1949 and 1956
  • "Heligoland" is the name of a song by Overseer, which describes the changes in shipping forecast when the island was reoccupied.
  • Heligoland was the subject of a WWI song "We'll knock the Heligo-into Heligo-out of Heligoland!".
  • Swedish author August Strindberg
    August Strindberg
    Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four decades, during which time he wrote over 60 plays and more than 30 works of fiction, autobiography,...

     married for the second time on this island with Austrian journalist Frida Uhl
    Frida Uhl
    Frida Uhl was an Austrian writer and translator, who was closely associated to many important figures in 20th-century literature. She was married to August Strindberg. She was the daughter of the well-known Friedrich Uhl, editor of the Wiener Zeitung, and Maria Uhl, a devout Catholic...

     in 1893.
  • Part of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
    Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens
    is a classic 1922 German Expressionist horror film, directed by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok...

    was filmed here. Part of the dark comedy Shadow of the Vampire
    Shadow of the Vampire
    Shadow of the Vampire is a 2000 horror film directed by E. Elias Merhige and written by Steven Katz, and starring John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, and Udo Kier. The film is a fictionalized account of the making of the classic vampire film Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by F. W....

    , which is a fictionalized account of the filming of Nosferatu, was also set on Heligoland.
  • The first part of The Holy Mountain
    The Holy Mountain (1926 film)
    The Holy Mountain is a 1926 Weimar Republic mountain film directed by Arnold Fanck, starring future propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in her first screen appearance as an actress.- External links :*...

    , starring Leni Riefenstahl
    Leni Riefenstahl
    Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German film director, actress and dancer widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker. Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens , a propaganda film made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party...

    , directed by Arnold Fanck was filmed here.
  • Parts of the movie Das Boot
    Das Boot
    Das Boot is a 1981 German epic war film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann...

    were filmed in the waters around Heligoland in 1980/81.
  • Physicist
    A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

     Werner Heisenberg
    Werner Heisenberg
    Werner Karl Heisenberg was a German theoretical physicist who made foundational contributions to quantum mechanics and is best known for asserting the uncertainty principle of quantum theory...

     formulates the idea of the Uncertainty Principle
    Uncertainty principle
    In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, such as position and momentum, can be simultaneously known...

     on this island in the play Copenhagen
    Copenhagen (play)
    Copenhagen is a play by Michael Frayn, based around an event that occurred in Copenhagen in 1941, a meeting between the physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. It debuted in London in 1998...

    (1998) by Michael Frayn
    Michael Frayn
    Michael J. Frayn is an English playwright and novelist. He is best known as the author of the farce Noises Off and the dramas Copenhagen and Democracy...

  • Heligoland is the name of both an album and "an occasional solo vehicle" of English musician and producer Tim Friese-Greene
    Tim Friese-Greene
    Timothy Alan Friese-Greene is an English musician and producer. From 1983 to their breakup in 1992, he worked with the band Talk Talk. He currently releases solo albums under the name "Heligoland".-Producer:...

  • The British trip hop
    Trip hop
    Trip hop is a music genre consisting of downtempo electronic music which originated in the early 1990s in England, especially Bristol. Deriving from "post"-acid house, the term was first used by the British music media and press as a way to describe the more experimental variant of breakbeat which...

     band Massive Attack
    Massive Attack
    Massive Attack are an English DJ and trip hop duo from Bristol, England consisting of Robert "3D" Del Naja and Grant "Daddy G" Marshall. Working with co-producers, as well as various session musicians and guest vocalists, they make records and tour live. The duo are considered to be of the trip...

     named their 2010 album Heligoland.
  • The Berlin
    Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

    -based football club TSV Helgoland
    Helgoland Berlin
    TSV Helgoland is a German association football club from the Templehof district of the city of Berlin. It was established 5 September 1897 as Berliner Thor- und Fußball-Club 1897 Helgoland and played first division football in the Oberliga Berlin in 1901–02 and 1906–07...

     takes its name from the island.

See also

  • Postal history of Heligoland
    Postal history of Heligoland
    During the period when Heligoland was a British possession, about 20 postage stamps were issued between 1867 and 1890. There were up to eight printings of a single denomination and also a large volume of reprints which are known as the Berlin, Leipzig and Hamburg Reprints, respectively. The Berlin...

  • Forseti
    Forseti is an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation in Norse mythology. He is generally identified with Fosite, a god of the Frisians...

    - A Norse god whose central place of worship was at Heligoland.


Books (English)

  • Black, William G. (1888) Heligoland and the Islands of the North Sea, London : W. Blackwood & Sons, 199 p.
  • Drower, George (2011) Heligoland - The True Story of German Bight and the Island that Britain Forgot, The History Press, ISBN 978-0-7524-6067-3
  • Ritsema, Alex (2007) Heligoland, Past and Present, Lulu.com, ISBN 1-84753-190-3

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.