Coat of arms of Wilhelmshaven
Location of Wilhelmshaven
Wilhelmshaven is located in Germany
Wilhelmshaven is located in Lower Saxony
Coordinates: 53°31′0″N 8°8′0″E / 53.51667°N 8.13333°E / 53.51667; 8.13333Coordinates: 53°31′0″N 8°8′0″E / 53.51667°N 8.13333°E / 53.51667; 8.13333
StateLower Saxony
DistrictUrban district
 • Lord mayor (2019–24) Carsten Feist[1] (Ind.)
 • Total106.91 km2 (41.28 sq mi)
2 m (7 ft)
 • Total75,189
 • Density700/km2 (1,800/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes04421, 04423, and 04425 (each partially)
Vehicle registrationWHV

Wilhelmshaven (German pronunciation: [vɪlhɛlmsˈhaːfn̩] (listen), lit. Wilhelm's Harbour) is a coastal town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the western side of the Jade Bight, a bay of the North Sea, and has a population of 76,089.[3] Wilhelmshaven is the centre of the "JadeBay" business region (which has around 330,000 inhabitants) and is Germany's main military port.

The adjacent Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park (part of the Wattenmeer UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site) provides the basis for the major tourism industry in the region.


The Siebethsburg castle [de], built before 1383, operated as a pirate stronghold; the Hanseatic League destroyed it in 1433. Four centuries later, the Kingdom of Prussia planned a fleet and a harbour on the North Sea. In 1853, Prince Adalbert of Prussia, a cousin of the Prussian King Frederick William IV, arranged the Jade Treaty (Jade-Vertrag) with the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, in which Prussia and the Grand Duchy entered into a contract whereby Oldenburg ceded 3.13 square kilometres (1.21 square miles) of its territory at the Jade Bight to Prussia. In 1869 King William I of Prussia (later also German Emperor) founded the town as an exclave of the Province of Hanover and a naval base for Prussia's developing fleet. All the hinterland of the city remained as part of the Duchy of Oldenburg.

A shipbuilding yard developed at Wilhelmshaven, the Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven (Wilhelmshaven Imperial Shipyard). On 30 June 1934 the "pocket battleship" Admiral Graf Spee was launched at Wilhelmshaven.

In 1937 Wilhelmshaven and the adjacent village Rüstringen merged[4] and the united city, named Wilhelmshaven, became a part of the Free State of Oldenburg.

World War II

See also: Bombing of Wilhelmshaven in World War II

In World War II (1939–1945), Allied bombing destroyed two thirds of the town's buildings while the main target, the Naval Shipyard Wilhelmshaven, remained operational despite serious damage.[5] On 28 April 1945, the Canadian First Army captured Emden and the Polish First Armored Division captured Wilhelmshaven, and took the surrender of the entire garrison, including some 200 ships of the Kriegsmarine.[citation needed] The Poles remained as part of the Allied occupation forces until 1947. During the war, Alter Banter Weg (No. 1582 Wilhelmshaven), functioned as a subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp.[citation needed]

Since 1945

In 1947 the city council decided to seek a new emblem for the city. After the Control Commission for Germany - British Element (CCG/BE) had rejected several designs, Wilhelmshaven selected the image of a Frisian warrior (Rüstringer Friese), designed after a nail man erected in the city during the First World War to collect war donations.

Between 1947 and 1972 Wilhelmshaven was the home of Prince Rupert School, a comprehensive boarding school for children of British Army and RAF personnel serving with BAOR. The school relocated to Rinteln in Lower Saxony in 1972, and closed in 2014. There is an active association of former Wilhelmshaven pupils called The Wilhelmshaven Association. After World War II the shipyard was totally disarmed under the British Commander in Chief, and of course many military buildings were damaged or vacant. While it was prohibited to establish any kind of military-linked businesses, Wilhelmshaven took the opportunity to provide a convenient location for the Olympia Werke, which became one of the most popular quality typewriter factories in the world. A workforce of 7,000 worker was employed there in 1953.[6]

Largest groups of foreign residents (as of 31 December 2018)

 Syria 1,465
 Poland 594
 Iraq 468
 Turkey 467
 Greece 423
 Romania 410
 Bulgaria 238
 Serbia 190
 China 164


Wilhelmshaven and its city districts
Wilhelmshaven and its city districts

Wilhelmshaven is Germany's only deep-water port, and its largest naval base. Concerning the new plans for the Bundeswehr which took shape in 2011 it has become the largest military base in Germany as well.[7] The benefits of the deep shipping channel were already recognised at the end of the 1950s with the construction of the first oil tanker jetty. Wilhelmshaven has been the most important German import terminal for crude oil ever since. Pipelines from here supply refineries in the Rhine-Ruhr region and Hamburg. Other major business operations followed, and constructed jetties for crude oil and oil products, coal, and chemical products. Construction of a liquified natural gas (LNG) import regasification facility began in May 2022 to displace some of the pipeline gas imported from Russia.[8]

One of the main industrial sectors in Wilhelmshaven is the port industry with its wharves, sea port service companies, service providers and repair businesses, transhipment and handling businesses, and agencies, etc. The "JadeWeserPort" – Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven (CTW), operational since 2012 and the development of the neighbouring Freight Village provide prospects for employment in areas such as logistics and distribution. In 2016 Eurogate increased transhipment volume up to 480.000 Container (TEU). And since Volkswagen is interested in using the deep-water facilities the number of employed workers is assumed to rise from 400 to 600.[9]

Another element of the "Wilhelmshaven energy hub" programme is the chemical industry (refinery, PVC, and chlorine gas production), as well as power generation (two coal-fired power stations, wind power).

The German defence forces (German Navy, navy arsenal, logistics centre) together with the public sector, are the main pillars of the local employment market.


The Jadestadion, the stadium of SV Wilhelmshaven
The Jadestadion, the stadium of SV Wilhelmshaven

Every year in the first days of July, the big "Weekend on the Jade" event attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the big port, the southern beach and the navy arsenal. Another big event takes place at the end of the sailing season at the beginning of October when two dozen large sailing ships dock in Wilhelmshaven as part of the "JadeWeserPort Cup".

Notable people

Erhard Milch in 1944
Erhard Milch in 1944
Rainer Fetting in 2016
Rainer Fetting in 2016

Twin towns – sister cities

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Germany

Wilhelmshaven is twinned with:[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Verzeichnis der direkt gewählten Bürgermeister/-innen und Landräte/Landrätinnen". Landesamt für Statistik Niedersachsen. April 2021.
  2. ^ Landesamt für Statistik Niedersachsen, LSN-Online Regionaldatenbank, Tabelle A100001G: Fortschreibung des Bevölkerungsstandes, Stand 31. Dezember 2020.
  3. ^ "Landesamt für Statistik Niedersachsen".
  4. ^ "Wilhelmshaven". Luftschutzbunker Wilhelmshaven. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  5. ^ "Angriffe und Statistik". Homepage Luftschutzbunker Wilhelmshaven. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  6. ^ "Olympiawerke jetzt AG = Die Zeit". 1954-07-22. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  7. ^ "Wilhelmshaven wächst zum größten Bundeswehrstandort". Hamburger Abendblatt. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  8. ^ Villegas, Paulina; Morris, Loveday (5 May 2022). "Germany begins construction of liquefied natural gas terminal". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 May 2022.
  9. ^ Wolschner, Klaus (2017-10-05), "VW entdeckt Wilhelmshaven", Tageszeitung TAZ: 41
  10. ^ de:St.-Jakobi-Kirche (Neuende)
  11. ^ "Wilhelmshavens Städtepartnerschaften und Städtefreundschaften". wilhelmshaven.de (in German). Wilhelmshaven. Retrieved 2021-02-17.

General sources

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article "Wilhelmshaven".