Haderslev Domkirke
Frøslevlejren i Sønderjylland

Feel the history

Photo:Flying October&Raul Hirian

The history of Sønderjylland is vivid and pervasive, and makes up a crucial part of who we are.

Wherever you go, you get a glimpse of our unique history as a border region and strategic hub. Our ancestors have left their mark on the region all the way up to the present day – from the indigenous peoples of the Stone Age and medieval peasants, over pirates, dukes, queens and the powerful men of the church, to gendarmes, soldiers and generals.

Are you interested in guided tours and other historical adventures? At booksonderjylland.dk we sell tickets for a wide variety of tours.


The Second Schleswig War in 1864, and the period that followed, was highly significant for Sønderjylland in many ways.

The area around Dybbøl and Sønderborg lay in ruins and the region suddenly became part of Prussia, rather than a duchy under the rule of the Danish king. For the next 56 years, Sønderjylland was initially part of Prussia, before becoming absorbed into the German empire. It wasn’t until after the First World War and a referendum was held that reunification with the rest of Denmark was finally achieved in 1920.

The World Wars

The two world wars have had a profound impact on the history of Sønderjylland.

When the First World War broke out, Sønderjylland was part of the German empire, which meant that men from Sønderjylland were drafted alongside other ‘native‘ Germans. Around 6,000 of these men never returned home, and the war therefore continued to have an impact long after hostilities ceased.

On the morning of 9th April 1940, Germany invaded Denmark, thus marking the beginning of five long years of occupation. Frøslevlejren was a prison camp built in Sønderjylland in 1944 in an attempt to prevent Danes from being sent to the Nazi concentration camps, although this objective didn’t succeed in full. After the end of the war, the prison camp was used to intern some of the Danes who’d collaborated with the Germans during the war. Today parts of Frøslevlejren are a museum.

Maritime history

Sønderjylland has a long and rich maritime history, in which sailors, whalers and the turbulent waters surrounding the region have all left their mark. With sea to both the east and the west and a large number of fjords and streams, it isn’t difficult to imagine the importance of trade and transport on the water down through the ages.

On the island of Als, archaeological digs have turned up spectacular finds of boats from the Iron Age, whilst the buildings on the island of Rømø and around Aabenraa reveal much about the splendid whalers and shipbuilders who lived in the region in former times.

Today there’s still an important commercial port in Aabenraa, whereas most of the other harbours are primarily frequented by yachting enthusiasts.

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