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The historical development of the Volkspark

View of the Kaiserliche Werft from the Werftpark
View of the Kaiserliche Werft from the Werftpark

When Kiel became the “Reichskriegshafen” (Reich naval harbour) in 1871, the cityscape started to change as well. Three major ship yards grew up alongside the smaller shipyards for wooden boats: the Howaldtswerke, the Germaniawerft and the Kaiserliche Werft. The villages of Ellerbek and Gaarden changed from fishing communities to workers’ housing estates.

Kaiser Wilhelm II decreed that all state concerns should form workers’ committees, which then had to set up welfare facilities for workers in the concerns. So a “Welfare Association for Members of the Kaiserliche Werft” was founded, which established the 14 hectare Werftpark (shipyard park), and handed it over to the public in a ceremony on 13 May 1899.

Shipyard Convalescent Home in the Werftpark
Shipyard Convalescent Home
in the Werftpark

The Werftpark with its handsome convalescent home recreation building lost its original function as a prestigious location with the collapse of the Imperial Reich and thus of the Imperial Navy.

The city bought the Werftpark from the welfare association in 1921, to secure the green space for the general public in the long term. The then garden director Ferdinand Hurtzig had the park thoroughly refurbished in 1923. The Werftpark was known as the Horst Wessel Park under the National Socialists, and was rechristened Volkspark - People’s Park - in 1947.

Pictorial material: Kieler Stadtarchiv, Stadt- und Schifffahrtsmuseum

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