The Northern German Defence Line 1916-18 (Sicherungsstellung
The construction of the Defence Line
German General Ludendorff wrote in his memories:
"It was only with the deepest regrets, we could not recommend the
unconditional Submarine Warfare. In the opinion
of the Reichskansler
it could eventually mean war with The Netherlands and
Denmark. To protect ourselves against these two nations, we didn’t have a one
man available. They would
be able to invade Germany with their armies, even not used to war, at give us the final stroke."
1916, the General Command of the 9th Army Corps is ordered to build the
defence Line Sicherungstellung Nord according
to the plans that has been ready for a
long time. September 10th and 17th the first Pioneer units arrive to the Southern
work was supervised by a Pioneer Battalion Staff and six Pioneer
Companies. The workers were political and military prisoners
The construction was based on the common doctrines for combat in the
defence , that in 1916 was written in the statutory "Die Führung
in der Abwehrschlacht" and "Allgemein
über Stellungsbau" These doctrines were, in modified form, valid both during and after WW2.
The construction works took place from September 1916 to the end of the
war, with varying activity. The first line of the trenches and
infantry positions and the artillery
positions were practically finished at
the end of 1917. From an overall view, the heavy batteries in
the weight of the Defence
seams to be the eastern part.
might be need of protection of the important naval constructions in Aabenraa
and the little island Als
east of Sönderborg.
case an attack should follow a more western axis (following a landing in Esbjerg?)
the railroads in the area made transport of artillery
the plans there is not any support positions in the debt
of the defence
line. This could be due to a lack of preparation, lack of German
ability or lack
of respect for the Danish Army (Due to Ludendorff’s considerations)
to the Danish registrations from 1921-22, 22 light and medium batteries of
4-6 pieces 7.7-15 centimetres, and eight heavy
batteries with naval guns of a calibre of
24-26 centimetres. In
connection with the trenches there also were numerous observation and
stands, flanking positions for machineguns, revolver canons, light field guns and a lot of
covered rooms for the troops.
800 rooms (Unterstände) could shelter 8000 men in laying position, or the
in sitting position.
the first line of trenches was finished. The two or some places 3 lines
behind it were only marked in the surface. The troops that
should fight in defence line, were
supposed to finish the works themselves.
was a "Stellung in Gerippe" (a prepared and partly
finished defence line).
The official Denmark denied anything was going on in the area. Of cause
some drills were made down there, but nothing to worry about.
In fact Germany constructed one of their strongest positions, including the
more famous ones, on the western front. (I.e. the Sigfried
Line) They constructed the position peaceful and quit, no shelling and with all
the concrete they could needed.
mentioned above, the workers were prisoners of the state, deserters and
In the section Hönning-Öster Gasse,
the work was supervised by the 9 Ersatz-Pionerkompagnie from Rendsborg. The camp, the prisoners came from, was situated just
west of the town Arrild.
The work around the town Skärbäk, was also supervised by a part of the 9.
Pionerkompagnie (later the 139. Pioner-kompagnie).
Beside the prisoners, also the unit 139. Armierungs-battalion from Westphalen worked here.
To give an impression of the amount of the building materials needed, a
little observation-room 150 tons and a room for half a
platoon 450 tons. Everything
was moved by hand by the prisoners.
Prisoners working at Arrild
the end of the war, the few remaining troops left the position. After a short time, teams from Krupp arrived to demount the guns.
the drawings and papers referring to
the defence line were also removed. Unfortunately they were
destroyed at an English air
raid towards the German Naval
Headquarters in 1945.