Wartime Bridge Story: Prinz Heinrich Brücke in Kiel

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Wartime Bridge Series

Film clip

These are the first bridges you will see while biking along the Baltic- North Sea Canal: the twin spans featuring the Olympia Bridge on the left and the Prince Heinrich Bridge on the right. The bridges are located at Highway B-503 at the entrance of the locks at the Baltic Sea side and appear to be totally identical.  Yet the Olympia Bridge was built in 1972 and the Prince Heinrich was built in 1996. It is the one on the right that was a successor to the original Prince Heinrich Bridge. The bridge was built by Friedrich Voss in 1912 and featured a single span continuous truss bridge with trestle approaches on each side. The bridge lasted for 80 years until it was torn down in 1992.

According to a new documentary by German public TV station NDR however, had it not been for the courage of two people, Heinrich Magnus Ivens and Hermann Storm, the bridge would have succumbed much earlier and there would have been a new structure built much earlier than the Olympia Bridge in 1972.  On May 5, 1945, with the war long since a lost cause, seven Nazi soldiers were carrying explosives to the bridge in an attempt to bring down the structure into the canal. At the same time, British troops were marching into Kiel, where residents and soldiers, tired of all the fighting, surrendered unconditionally.  Desparate to avoid the inevitable, the soldiers at the foot of the bridge tried to set up the bombs. On the bridge itself, however, the British troops were negotiating with the locals to end the war.  One of the two negotiated with the troops, the other stopped the troops from performing the act and thus saved the bridge from its doom.

The rest was history. Even though the war was lost and the troops that were stopped cried at the end, Germany capitulated to the allied troops two days later on May 7th, 1945. With that, a piece of history that would have succumbed with the rest of Kiel was saved and would later become a major crossing over the canal going north towards Flensburg, Denmark and all of Scandanavia, even when a twin crossing was added and the bridge itself, a victim of severe corrosion plus wear and tear would be replaced.

A documentary, which features a summary of the event plus a film provides you with the details of the event. Even though it is in German, the pictures and interview presented in the film will tell a story.  Click onto the link below:

https://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/schleswig-holstein_magazin/zeitreise/Zeitreise-Erinnerungen-an-Prinz-Heinrich-Bruecke-in-Kiel,zeitreise2668.html

Furthermore, you can read up on the history of that plus the bridges in a link on the Bridges of Kiel-Holtenau, where this bridge is located. There you will find all the infomration on the crossings, both past and present, including the neighboring Levansau Bridge and some of the crossings along the Alt Eider Canal. The information has been integrated into the bridge tours written in English.

Link:http://www.apt-holtenau.de/holtenau-info/history/bruecken.htm

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