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POINT OF INTEREST

Alter Friedhof mit Idstedt-Löwe

Reepschlägerbahn/Stuhrsallee (37), 24937 Flensburg

The Idstedt Lion, erected in 1862 on the Old Cemetery (Alter Friedhof) to commemorate a Danish victory, became a symbol for the conflict between Germany and Denmark. Now that it has been back on its original site since 2011 via Berlin and Copenhagen, it urges Danes and Germans to coexist peacefully

For almost 150 years up to 2011, the Idstedt Lion, a bronze statue of the Danish sculptor Herman Wilhelm Bissen, symbolised the conflict between Germans and Danes. The Danes erected it in 1862 on the Old Cemetery in Flensburg to commemorate their victory over Schleswig-Holstein in the battle of Idstedt in 1850 and the Danish soldiers that lost their lives there[1]. After defeating the Danes at Dybbøl in 1864, the Prussians transported the lion to Berlin and placed it in the Zeughaus (Arsenal) in Berlin in 1868. It was later moved to the courtyard of the Hauptkadettenanstalt (Military Academy) in Berlin-Lichterfelde in 1878.[2] At the end of World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1945 ordered that the lion be transported to the Danish capital, where it remained in the government district up to 2011. Before then, the return of the contested lion was also hindered by fears about political unrest and tensions in German-Danish relations. An initiative of the Flensburg association of the “Linke” political party, which wanted to bring back the lion to Flensburg as a sign of peace for the city’s 725th jubilee, paved the way for a return. After joint efforts by all the parties on the Flensburg council at that time and with the support of German and Danish politicians, the lion was transported back to its original site on the Old Cemetery in 2011 after an absence of 147 years. In that setting, the Idstedt Lion, as a “sign of friendship and trust”, now urges all visitors to ensure peaceful co-existence between Danes and Germans.[3]


[1] Inge Adriansen & Matthias Schartl: Erinnerungsorte nördlich und südlich der Grenze. Deutsch-Dänisch.; 2006, p. 58

[2] ebda., p. 40

[3] Lars N. Henningsen & Broder Schwensen: In Freundschaft und Vertrauen. Die Rückkehr des Idstedt-Löwen nach Flensburg 2011. Harrislee 2012