From Skagen to Eider: Danish agitation in Flensburg, Germany, prior to the referendum in Schleswig
This huge banner in Flensburg urged people, in German, to vote in favour of Danish rule over German. A majority of 75% voted in favour of German.
As a result of the Second Schleswig War (1864) Denmark had been forced to surrender the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. This meant that large numbers of Danish-minded residents in north Schleswig (now Sønderjylland, of which the main city is Flensburg) were forced to live under German rule.
At the end of World War One, the Treaty of Versailles (Art 109) stated that plebiscites, or referendums, should be held in Schleswig to determine the region’s nationality. Plebiscites were an opportunity for every member of an electorate to cast their vote on a single issue, usually of national or international relevance. The general assumption in Denmark was that people of the northern part, Zone 1 (Sønderjylland), would vote in favour of Danish nationality while the results from the southern provinces, Zone 2, remained to be seen. It was likely most of Zone 2 would vote for Germany, but the self-contained city of Flensburg, in particular, might choose Denmark.
The fight for votes in Flensburg, became cutthroat. During the days leading up to the vote streets were filled with Danish, German and regional Schleswig-Holstein flags, and posters were seen everywhere in an attempt to influence voters.
- Article by:
- David Welch
Professor David Welch explores nations’ reliance on propaganda in World War One, with a focus on symbols and slogans of nationhood and patriotism.