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The war harbor of Kiel is perhaps the best example of its kind. The fortifications, consisting of the Friedrichsort, and Falkenstein forts on the Schleswig side of the harbor, and four powerful shore batteries on the Holstein shore, are situated at a point about four miles north of the city, where the harbor is narrowest.

The Danish king Christian IV had a maritime fortress built at the narrowest point on the Kiel Firth in 1632. It was intended to protect the southern borders of his empire. The fortress was near a settlement called Pries, and was called "Christianspries" after the king. It was bitterly contested during the Thirty Years War between Sweden and the Danes. New buildings and extensions by Christian's son Friedrich III from 1663 to 1690 produced a typical Scandinavian Baltic fortress with five corner bastions, grass-covered ramparts and moats. It was now called Friedrichsort, like the settlement which soon developed around it. After the German-Danish war of 1864 the Danes lost the Duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. Holstein went to the Austrians and the others to the Prussians. After the fortress came under Prussian rule in 1865, and the buildings dating from the Danish period were removed or fundamentally modifed. The yellow brick casemates date from 1869-1876. The ramparts and casemates of Germany's only maritime fortress can still be seen, and are some of the most important and oldest evidence of Kiel's maritime municipal and regional history.

After the First World War the military facilities were pulled down and the Nordgraben filled in; the navy started using the complex again from 1935. The last buildings remaining from the Danish period were destroyed in air raids in 1945.

The torpedo workshops at Friedrichsort were for the construction and maintenance of torpedoes. The sailor artillery was a separate branch of the German navy, and has been organized to man the coast forts, which have been turned over to the navy department. As a rule they are not expected to serve aboard ship, their special duties being to man the sea-coast defenses and to form part of the torpedo personnel ; but they maybe sent afloat should they be needed in the fleet more than in the forts. The petty officers are mostly old sailors, and the officers are all from the line of the navy. The division of sailor artillery is composed of two parts ; the first at Friedrichsort near Kiel, and the second at Wilhielmshaven. Each subdivision was commanded by a lieutenant-commander and is organized into three companies, each commanded by a lieutenant.

Among the vessels assigned to the local defense were torpedo boats, gunboats, ironclads, and small dispatch vessels and cruisers for scout service. All these vessels were kept ready for sea ; and every year a portion of tbetn are mobilized, during the autumn manoeuvres, to make sure of their practical and efficient preparation. For torpedo boats and mines there were four principal stations corresponding to the four coast districts, of which Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Stralsuud, and Dantzig were headquarters. These four stations were supplied by the general depot at Friedrichsort.

At the beginning of the Great War the torpedo factory at Friedrichsort had been the only place where German torpedoes were manufactured ; but during the war the engineering works (formerly L. Schwartz-kopff) in Berlin, which in earlier years had also manufactured torpedoes, was converted into a torpedo factory, as were other works as well. Under the direction of the Chief of the Torpedo Factories, Rear-Admiral Hering, the enormously increased demand for the manufacture of torpedoes was fully satisfied, so that the supplies of the Fleet and of the torpedo-boats were kept at the requisite level.

As of 1888, the The Inspection of Submarine Mining (Inspection des Torpedo-wesens) was responsible for measures for laying down defensive mines, the Inspection of Submarine Mining attended to the offensive element, and under it were placed all the torpedo-vessels and boats in and out of commission, the torpedo detachments, the torpedo training ship, the torpedo experimental committee, and the torpedo depot at Friedrichsort. The Inspector, whose headquarters was at Friedrichsort, was a corvette-captain with a captain-lieutenant as adjutant.

Upon enlistment, Imperial German Navy recruits were distributed to the depots of the three departments of the seamen's divisions, or Matrosen-Divisionen; the torpedo-boat division or Torpedo- Abtheilungen; and the technical and administrative division, or Werft- Divisionen, including engineers, engine-room artificers, stokers, mechanics, carpenters. There were three divisions of voluntary service. There were those who, having obtained a " eaving certificate" at school, were privileged to volunteer for one year's service ; those who volunteer for three, four, five and six years ; and ships' boys.

The Ships' Boys' Division, which was established at Friedrichsort, near Kiel, was the most important part of the voluntary service ; since it provided opportunity for boys who desired to make the Navy service their occupation. They must pass an elementary education test, and the medical examination. The course of training at Friedrichsort extended over a year and a half. During the first six months the boys are trained ashore. They are then drafted aboard the school ships, in which the naval cadets are also under instruction. The ships cruise for a year or so. Upon their return, the boys were granted a month's leave ; after which they received further training ashore in infantry drill and naval subjects. At the age of seventeen they were received into the Navy as ordinary seamen, or Leichtmatrosen, when they take the oath of allegiance to the Kaiser.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:42 ZULU