The Northern German Defence Line 1916-18 (
Sicherungsstellung Nord)
 
The construction of the Defence Line

 The German General Ludendorff wrote in his memories:
 "It was only with the deepest regrets, we could not recommend the unconditional Submarine Warfare. In the opinion
of the Reichskansler
 it could eventually mean war with The Netherlands and Denmark. To protect ourselves against these two nations, we didn’t have a one
 man available. They would be able to invade Germany with their armies, even not used to war, at give us the final stroke."


 September 1916, the General Command of the 9th Army Corps is ordered to build the defence Line Sicherungstellung Nord according
 to  the plans that has been ready for a long time. September 10th and 17th the first Pioneer units arrive to the Southern Jutland. The
 work was supervised by a Pioneer Battalion Staff and six Pioneer Companies. The workers were political and military prisoners
 (Festungshäftlinge). Not POW´s.
 The construction was based on the common doctrines for combat in the defence , that in 1916 was written in the statutory  "Die Führung
 in der Abwehrschlacht" and "Allgemein über Stellungsbau" These doctrines were, in modified form, valid both during and after WW2.

 The construction works took place from September 1916 to the end of the war, with varying activity. The first line of the trenches and
 infantry positions and the artillery positions were practically finished
 at the end of 1917. From an overall view, the heavy batteries in
 particular, the weight of the Defence
 Line seams to be the eastern part.
 This might be need of protection of the important naval constructions in Aabenraa and the little island Als east of Sönderborg.
 In case an attack should follow a more western axis (following a landing in Esbjerg?) the railroads in the area made transport of artillery
 possible.
 In the plans there is not any support positions in the debt
of the defence line. This could be due to a lack of preparation, lack of German
 ability or lack of respect for the Danish Army (Due to Ludendorff’s considerations)
 According to the Danish registrations from 1921-22, 22 light and medium batteries of 4-6 pieces 7.7-15 centimetres, and eight heavy
 batteries with naval guns of a calibre of 24-26 centimetres. In connection with the trenches there also were numerous observation and
 combat stands, flanking positions for machineguns, revolver canons, light field guns and a lot of covered rooms for the
 troops. 
 The aprox.
800 rooms (Unterstände) could shelter 8000 men in laying position, or the double number in sitting position. 
 Only the first line of trenches was finished. The two or some places 3 lines behind it were only marked in the surface. The troops that
 should fight in defence line, were supposed to finish the works themselves.
 It was a "Stellung in Gerippe" (a prepared and partly
 finished defence line).
 
 The official Denmark denied anything was going on in the area. Of cause some drills were made down there, but nothing to worry about.
 In fact Germany constructed one of their strongest positions, including the more famous ones, on the western front. (I.e. the Sigfried
 Line) They constructed the position peaceful and quit, no shelling and with all the concrete they could needed.

 As mentioned above, the workers were prisoners of the state, deserters and political prisoners.  In the section Hönning-Öster Gasse,
 the work was supervised by the 9 Ersatz-Pionerkompagnie from Rendsborg. The camp, the prisoners came from, was situated just
 west of the town 
Arrild.
 The work around the town Skärbäk, was also supervised by a part of the 9. Pionerkompagnie (later the 139. Pioner-kompagnie).
 Beside the prisoners, also the unit 139. Armierungs-battalion from Westphalen worked here.
 To give an impression of the amount of the building materials needed, a little observation-room 150 tons and a room for half a
 platoon 450 tons. Everything was moved by hand by the prisoners.

 
                                                                            Prisoners working at Arrild

 At the end of the war, the few remaining troops left the position.  After a short time, teams from Krupp arrived to demount the guns.
 All
the drawings and papers referring to the defence line were also removed.  Unfortunately they were destroyed at an English air
 raid towards the German Naval
Headquarters in 1945.