Wilhelmshaven is not only a popular vacation resort, but can also show interesting historical and economic developments due to its close connection to the navy. With our little historical excursion, you will be well-informed for your next Wilhelmshaven city trip.
HistoryA journey through time in Wilhelmshaven.
OriginsBeginnings of the port city.
Wilhelmshaven, as we know it today, is a rather young city. This is because until 1871 the region was settled by the Frisians and the parishes of Heppens and Neuende were located in today's city area. With the Jade Treaty of 1853 between Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, the area was then ceded to the Prussians. Due to the special, protected location, the Prussian naval base and the city of Wilhelmshaven were established here, which received its name in 1869 from King Wilhelm I of Prussia, the later German emperor.
By the way: Have you ever wondered why Wilhelmshaven is not spelled with an f? It is not a spelling mistake! The port construction director Heinrich Goeker drafted the document in which the city was mentioned under this name for the first time in 1869. In doing so, he wrote "Hafen" according to Low German custom with v instead of f.
Maritime imprintThe influences of the Navy.
In the Jade Treaty, Prussia committed itself to settle only naval personnel and civilians who worked in port construction or ship supply in Wilhelmshaven. The naval base significantly shaped the identity and growth of the northern German city. The unique location of the port particularly contributed to the rapid development of the city. Especially during the two world wars, the effects of the connection with the navy became apparent: Wilhelmshaven experienced economic prosperity twice followed by a rapid decline.
Not only the economy but also urban life was significantly influenced by the navy. Thus, the influence is also strongly reflected in the architecture and the cityscape. Although the city suffered severe destruction, especially during World War II, Wilhelmshaven was able to fully recover after the war and establish a rich economic structure.
Wilhelmshaven todayIn between tradition and the future.
In 1956, at the time of German rearmament, Wilhelmshaven became a naval port again. A particularly important event in the economic transformation was the construction of the JadeWeserPort, which was officially commissioned in 2012. It is Germany's only deep-water port. However, Wilhelmshaven today is not only an important port location but also a cultural center and popular vacation spot. The diverse cultural offerings of the city, but also the unique nature of the surrounding area attract numerous visitors.