The Kiel Canal and Heligoland


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. The Kiel Canal and Heligoland is Number 41 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Construction of the Kiel Canal connecting the North Sea and the Baltic Sea was one of a series of measures undertaken by Germany in the late 19th century to extend German commercial enterprise and naval power. Kaiser Wilhelm I laid the foundation stone for the canal on June 3, 1887, and it opened to shipping on June 20, 1895. The canal greatly reduced the length of the voyage between the naval port of Wilhelmshaven and Kiel. The study includes detailed tables on the physical features of the canal, including breadth, depth, and the size of its locks, and information on the tonnages of freight shipped through the canal and the tolls charged for various classes of traffic. The second part of the study deals with the island of Heligoland located in the North Sea some 50 kilometers off the German coastline. Formerly part of Denmark, the island was ceded to Britain in 1814. It was transferred to Germany under the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890, by which Germany gained the island in exchange for ceding control of its African colony of Zanzibar to Britain. The study includes sections on the island’s physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions.

Last updated: November 14, 2017