Siebethsburg castlepirate 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
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.
, built before 1383, operated as a
A shipbuilding yard developed at Wilhelmshaven, the Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven (
Wilhelmshaven Imperial Shipyard). On 30 June 1934 the "
Admiral Graf Spee was launched at Wilhelmshaven.
In 1937 Wilhelmshaven and
Rüstringen merged and the united city, named Wilhelmshaven, became a part of the
Free State of Oldenburg.
World War II
World War II (1939-1945),
Allied bombing destroyed two thirds of the town's buildings. On 28 April 1945, the Canadian First Army captured Emden and Wilhelmshaven, Germany, and took the surrender of the entire garrison, including some 200 ships of the
Kriegsmarine. The Poles remained as part of the allied occupation forces until 1947. During
World War II Alter Banter Weg (No. 1582 Wilhelmshaven) functioned as a subcamp of the
Neuengamme concentration camp.
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 1972. There is an active association of former Wilhelmshaven pupils called The Wilhelmshaven Association.