German battleship Schleswig-Holstein

German battleship Schleswig-Holstein

The "Schleswig-Holstein" was a German battleship that fought in both World Wars. It is credited with firing the first shots of World War II by firing at the Polish base at Westerplatte on 1 September 1939.


SMS "Schleswig-Holstein" was one of five pre-dreadnought, "Deutschland"-class battleships, not to be confused with a later class of pocket battleships of the same name. She was named for Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's most northern region. The ship was built at Germania Werft Shipyard in Kiel and commissioned into the Kaiserliche Marine on 6 July 1908.

"Schleswig-Holstein" fought in World War I at the Battle of Jutland, where she was hit once by gun fire from the 2nd British battle squadron. After the war, she was one of six obsolete battleships Germany was permitted to keep. During her refit ending in 1926, her first two smoke stacks were combined, reducing the total number from three to two. From 1926 to 1935 she was the flagship of the German navy. In 1936 "Schleswig-Holstein" was converted into a training ship.

World War II

Though obsolete by the outbreak of World War II she took part in some operations.At the end of August 1939, "Schleswig-Holstein" sailed to Danzig, under the pretext of a courtesy visit, and anchored in the channel near Westerplatte. On 1 September 1939, at 4.45 a.m. she began to shell the Polish garrison there - and as such can probably claim to have fired the first shots of WWII. The Battle of Westerplatte lasted seven days. After the capitulation of Westerplatte, the "Schleswig-Holstein" battered Gdynia, Kepa Oksywska, and the Hel Peninsula. During the bombardment of the last she was hit by a 152 mm shell from the Polish battery.

In April 1940, "Schleswig-Holstein" took part in the occupation of Denmark, and then served again as a training ship from 1941 to 1944. In September 1944 she returned to service as an anti-aircraft ship. On 19 December 1944, in Gdynia, she was struck by three bombs dropped by British planes, caught fire and sank in convert|39|ft|m of water. The ship was further damaged by her crew with scuttling charges in March, 1945. After World War II, she was raised by the Soviet Union and towed to Tallinn where she may have been renamed "Borodino". She was scuttled near Osmussaar island in the Baltic Sea in 1948 and used as a target ship until the 1960s. The remains of the ship still exist and the site has been protected by the Estonian National Heritage Board as a historic shipwreck since 2006 [] .

ee also

* List of German battleships
* Bundesland Schleswig Holstein

External links

* [ Maritimequest Schleswig Holstein Photo Gallery]

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