The German-language Danish news source Der Nordschleswiger reported Wednesday that signs for the Southern Jutland town of Haderslev now also include the town’s German name Hadersleben.
Similar efforts to add the German names to signs for the towns of Tønder and Aabenraa were rejected by local leaders, but Haderslev’s mayor Hans Peter Geil decided to green-light the bilingual signs in his town.
“Now we’ll have to see what the reaction is. I made the decision and I informed the city council about it. I’m the one who stands behind this,” Geil told broadcaster DR.
Like his colleagues in Tønder and Aabenraa, Geil had previously rejected the idea of including the German names on his city’s signs.
“The debate has now been raging for a month and I am a man of action rather than one to just sit around and discuss this. Now we’ve made a sign and put it up,” he said.
Recognizing a "special history"
February marked 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, Southern Jutland maintains strong German connections. A spokesman for the German minority told Der Nordschleswiger that including Hadersleben on the Haderslev town sign is an important acknowledgment of the local German community.
“This isn’t about helping tourists get around but rather about recognizing the border area’s special history and two cultures,” Hinrich Jürgensen said.
According to DR, officials in Tønder are expected to reconsider adding the German name Tondern to its town signs.