Danes reject German town names in Jutland

The Local Denmark
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Danes reject German town names in Jutland
Aabebraa, not Apenrade. Photo: Jens Rost/Flickr"

A petition by Southern Jutland's German minority to include German town names on official signage was turned down by Danes who said area residents aren't ready to "fully come to terms with the past".


Old wounds run deep in the south of Denmark. 
So deep in fact that 95 years after Southern Jutland (Sønderjylland) came back into Danish control, Danes and Germans continue to fight over what to call the area. 
The German minority in Southern Jutland earlier this week petitioned area politicians to include the German names of area cities on official signs. 
The Germans said that street signs welcoming people to the Danish towns of Tønder, Aabenraa and Haderslev should also include the German names of Tondern, Apenrade and Hadersleben. 
“This is about making it clear that there are two cultures here. But Aabenraa would still be Aabenraa, and the town signs would still say Aabenraa, but there should also be Apenrade in smaller text,” Hinrich Jürgensen, who represents the German minority, told public broadcaster DR. 
But that idea was summarily rejected by both the mayors of the towns in question and the cross-border organization Grænseforeningen. 
“It is natural that because of the German Occupation, residents of Southern Jutland aren’t yet ready to have German town names on the signs. It will take several generations before Southern Jutland will have fully come to terms with the past,”  Grænseforeningen chairman Knud-Erik Therkelsen told Kristeligt-Daglbad.
Last month marked exactly 95 years since Southern Jutland became Danish again.
Denmark suffered a crushing defeat in the Second Schleswig War of 1864, resulting in the loss of 5,000 Danish lives and more than a third of the country’s territory.
The area that is now southern Denmark remained under German control until the Treaty of Versailles set up a February 1920 referendum in which area residents voted to give the land back to Denmark.
Despite nearly a century back in Danish hands, today there are 14 German schools and 20 daycare institutions in Southern Denmark. Many Danish families also send their children to the German schools, as do Germans who moved to Denmark during its economic boom.


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