The Sound, called Öresund by the Swedes and Øresund by the Danes. Öresund is the Eastern most of the passages between Kattegat and the Baltic Sea. Commonly known in English as the Sound, is a strait which forms the Danish–Swedish border.

Öresund separates Sjælland (Denmark) from the W coast of Skåne. The strait has a length of 118 kilometres and the width varies from 4 kilometres to 28 kilometres. It is 4 kilometres wide at its narrowest point between Helsingør in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden.

Ferries between Helsingør and Helsingborg
Ferries between Helsingør and Helsingborg - Seen from Helsingborg side of Øresund
By David Castor (user:dcastor). A message to me about how it has been used would also be welcome. You are obviously not required to respond to these wishes of mine, just in a friendly manner encouraged to. (All my photos are placed in Category:Images by David Castor or a subcategory thereof.) - Own work, Public Domain, Link
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Øresund is a geologically young strait that formed 8500–8000 calendar years before present as result of rising sea levels. Previously the Ancylus Lake, a fresh-water body occupying the Baltic basin, had been connected to the sea solely by the Great Belt. As such the entrance of salt water by Øresund marked the beginning of the modern Baltic Sea as a salt-water sea.

Øresund is along with the Great Belt, Little Belt and Kiel Canal one of four waterways that connects the Baltic Sea to the Atlantic Ocean via Kattegat, Skagerrak, and the North Sea, and is one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Coming from north the first light we see is from Kullen lighthouse. Kullen Lighthouse is one of the most prominent landmarks along the Swedish coastline and it stands on the west end of Kullaberg.

Passing Kullaberg. Kullen lighthouse to the left on
the picture and the small village Mölle to the right.

Kullaberg
Picture of Kullaberg that I took of a picture when I visited Kullens lighthouse back in 2010

If the south entrance to Öresund is characterized by sand, the north entrance is characterized by rocks on the Swedish side. Kullaberg was a scourge for the ships and the Danish king built a light house on Kullaberg 1560. The world famous Tycho Brahe was a light-keeper at Kullens Lighthouse, but more about that if you visit my page about light houses in Öresund.

Entering Öresund from the south you pass Måkläppen and Falsterborev on the way around Skanör, the southern most peninsula in Sweden.

Falsterborev is the place in Sweden where you find most ship wreck. A few hundred meters from Skanör's harbour there is a ship from 1390 and a little
Map over ship wrecks in Falsterbo
Map over shipwrecks
From Fotevikens museum
Click HERE for full size map
north of that is a ship from the 16th century loaded with bricks. Every year they find new wrecks. So there has been more than a few prayers dedicated to Falsterborev added to the sailor’s prayer-books during the days.

Falsterborev, Falsterbo reef is a shallow with about 3 meters depth and all the ships lost there and in 1831 the first light ship anchored in the position. There was a permanent lightship there from 1844.

This was also the last permanent light ship in Sweden and in 1972 it was replaced with a lighthouse.

The legend says that Falsterborev gave name to Skanör and Skåne because of the ancient word for “fara” (Danger/ Peril in English) skatin.

The word “skatin”” was alluding to the great dangers seafarers took when passing the reef. Yeah, imagine passing Falsterborev a few hundred years ago. Not a light, no navigation aids. See more about lighthouses in Öresund HERE

Skanör and Falsterbo
Skanör and Falsterbo, from west (Öresund) - Click HERE for bigger picture

On night in July 1839 a storm stroked and a schooner Thetis was surprised by the storm. The schooner was just about to round Richard WagnerFalsterbo Rev and Skanör on the way from Pillau - the harbour of Königsberg - for London. On board the ship was the nowadays famous Richard Wagner.

On board they could see the 2 lanterns on the light vessel (a freight vessel which had been placed there 1831) The schooner Thetislight from Falsterbo L/H on shore was too weak. They managed to round the peninsula and pass through Öresund. The wind was not abating and the ship must seek a port of refuge in Sandviken at Borøya near Tvedestrand, a little town at the southern coast of Norway.

Wagner got the inspiration from that horrifying journey when he wrote the "Flying Dutchman" and who knows, maybe he could see the ghost Här skulle John Ballong ha varit och tjockat sigship him self when passing Måkläppen and Skanör. Countless are the stories about chaos, sudden death and despair along the coast of Skanör, today related to sun, beaches, rest, ice cream and beer

Helsingør with Kronborg
Helsingør with Kronborg and we can see Helsingborg un the upper side of the picture. Picture from the encyclopedia Civitates Orbis Terrarum from 1588
Picture from wikipedia - Click HERE for bigger picture

Opposite the harbour in Sandviken there is a vertical cliff overhanging the sea. As the crew on the Thetis lowered and folded the sails, they sang their seaman's calls in rhythm with their work. The echo from the cliff made an impression on Wagner, and he later used a similar effect in the sailor's choir in Der fliegende Holländer.

The last scene of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman
The last scene of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman (1843)


When Skåne belonged to Denmark it was important for the Swedes to pass safely through Öresund without the Danish help. The first Swedish sailing direction for Öresund was made 1644 by Johan Månsson from the Swedish admiralty. Back then it was only the Drogden channel west of Saltholm that was marked with buoys.

Treaty of Roskilde 1658


The Treaty of Roskilde was concluded on 26 February (OS) or 8 March 1658 (NS) during the Second Northern War between Frederick III of Denmark–Norway and Carl X Gustav of Sweden in the Danish city of Roskilde. After a devastating defeat, Denmark-Norway was forced to give up a third of its territory to save the rest, the ceded lands comprising Blekinge, Bornholm, Bohuslän (Båhuslen), Scania (Skåne) and Trøndelag, as well as her claims to Halland.

Treaty of Roskilde 1658
The peace banquet (Fredstaffelet) at Frederiksborg Castle following the signing of the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658

After the treaty entered into force, Swedish forces continued to campaign in the remainder of Denmark-Norway, but had to withdraw from the Danish isles and Trøndelag in face of a Danish-Norwegian-Dutch alliance. The Treaty of Copenhagen restored Bornholm to Treaty of Roskilde 1658Denmark and Trøndelag to Norway in 1660, while the other provinces transferred in Roskilde remain Swedish.

The treaty's conditions included:

• The immediate cession of the Danish province Skåne to Sweden.

• The immediate cession of the Danish province Blekinge to Sweden.

• The immediate cession of the Danish province Halland, which under the terms of the Peace of Brömsebro, negotiated in 1645 was then occupied by Sweden for a term of 30 years, to Sweden.

• The immediate cession of the Danish province of Bornholm to Sweden.

• The immediate cession of the Norwegian province of Bohuslän (Båhuslen) to Sweden. This effectively secured for Sweden unrestricted access to western trade.

• The immediate cession of the Norwegian province of Trøndelag, then including Nordmøre and Romsdal, to Sweden.

• Danish renunciation of all anti-Swedish alliances.

• Danish prevention of any warships hostile to Sweden passing through the straits into the Baltic.

• Restoration of the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp to his estates.

• Danish payment for Swedish occupation forces costs.

• Danish provision of troops to serve Charles in his broader wars.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Treaty of Roskilde 1658 in February 1658 and Øresund was no longer Danish water. Sweden and Denmark had to split Øresund. But already in August 1658 the Swedish army landed in Denmark. Kronborg in Helsingør was taken by the Swedish army very quickly and soon most of Denmark was occupied by the Swedish army.

The gunpowder smoke was thick over Copenhagen in the autumn of 1658. Copenhagen is surrounded by the superior Swedish army. In the city of Copenhagen the Danes are suffering. It is a desperate situation, if Copenhagen falls, well, that will be the end of Denmark as an independent state for ever. The Swedish King had started the war to obliterate Denmark, both as a name and as a country.

The Dutch Ambassador in Copenhagen was worried he couldn´t care less about the Danes and Denmark. But Holland was a nation with a huge merchant marine and they had economic and trade interests all over the world. So in the Baltic Sea. If Denmark became Swedish the Swedes would control the sea connection to the Baltic Sea.

They were worried in Holland and when they received the news the whole Dutch navy sat sail and sent to prevent Sweden from gaining control over Øresund and thereby controlling access to the Baltic Sea and the trade. They left Holland on the 7th of October 1658 and they dropped anchor 19 days later just north of Øresund.

The Swedes could see the Dutch Navy from Kullaberg and they counted to 39 men-of-war and 8 cargo ships with soldiers and provisions for Copenhagen that was held under siege by the Swedes. 1278 guns, 4501 sailors and 1000 soldiers was waiting for the weather to be favourable.

The Swedish Navy under Lord High Admiral Carl Gustaf Wrangel was waiting at the island Ven, south of Kullaberg in Øresund. There were 31 men-of-war and 14 armed cargo ships. 1838 guns and 6649 men. Everything was set for a naval battle in Øresund. Today known as the famous “Battle of the Sound”

The Battle of the Sound - Painting by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten
The Battle of the Sound was fought on October 29, 1658
Painting by Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten, 1660
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On the 29th of October there was a strong NW´ly wind. In the evening the Swedish navy had fought one of their biggest battle ever. The naval Battle took place at the Island Ven north of the Danish capital, Copenhagen.

The Dutch, under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam with Egbert Bartholomeusz Kortenaer as his flag captain had a hard task ahead, down a narrow sound full of Swedish men-of-war to rescue Copenhagen. On top of that the Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam was suffering from gout and had to lead the battle from a chair on board the flagship “Eendracht”

The seven Danish ships with about 280 guns could not help their Dutch allies because of bad weather and could only watch.

The Swedish king was standing at Kronborg watching the whole Dutch navy coming down Øresund. The King had been on board the Swedish flagship “Victoria” just a few days before to consult Admiral Wrangel on what to do. They came up with a typical Swedish solution.

They should not fire on the Dutch Navy, wait until the very last second as they were hoping for the Dutch to change side and salute Kronborg with a salute. They were standing on Kronborg waiting in wain for the salute. They say that the King was so angry and that it was him that fired the first cannonball from Kronborg and the 5 hour long naval battle had begun.

The Dutch were sneaking down the coast of Skåne and when they passed Helsingborg the swedes could fire their guns at them. By then it was 8 o’clock in the morning and the two flagships were approaching each other. The Dutch Admiral Obdam had given orders from his chair, fire on the masts and sails and the Swedish flagship was soon put out of action. The Swedish Admiral and the flagship “Victoria” was soon adrift in Øresund.

Adiral Obdam had also more problem than he could handle. Victoria had shot several holes in the hull and Eendracht was risking to sink. Incapable of moving out of his chair they had to send the admiral to another ship while sitting in his chair.

The Battle of the Sound
The Battle of the Sound
Drawing by Willem van de Velde the Elder
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Just north of Ven there were several Swedish ships aground. The Dutch had taken the Swedish men-of-war Rose, Delmenhorst and Pelikanen. And Morgonstiernan was sinking

It was hopeless on board Leoparden, Captain Anders Crabath was still running the 32 gun ship, but most of the 153 crew was dead or wounded. All the masts were gone and Leoparden was soon aground on the island Ven.

The Dutch were also suffering loses. The Swedish 60 guns ship Draken was laying next to the Dutch 54 guns ship Brederode. They were exchanging broadsides with each other’s for hours. We can just imagine the horrors on board these two ships. Both ships burning and everything shot to pieces. Finally the Vice Admiral Witte Wittesen´s ship Brederode sank.

Several ships sank south of the island Ven. And today we can read in Swedish log books that there were several mast heads sticking up from the water. The Swedish navy had to give up trying to follow the Dutch navy to Copenhagen as the Danish Navy showed up.

They had been leaving Copenhagen in the morning, strong head wind had stopped them from coming to help the Dutch Navy.

Of course, people were happy in Copenhagen and the Dutch ships arrived with provision. The Swedish King had seen the naval battle from Kronborg and now he was consulting the Admiral again. He stayed overnight on the flagship Victoria. They had decided for the remaining ships to seek refuge in Landskrona.

The Battle of the Sound - Painting by Peter van de Velde
The Battle of the Sound
Painting by Peter van de Velde
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Swedish navy sat sail for Landskrona but the wind disappeared when they passed Ven. Desperate situation, they were so close to the fort in Landskrona. They decided to man all the rowing boats to try to pull the navy to Landskrona. 31 st of October and most of the ships were safe in Landskrona.

The wind picked up and 21 Dutch and 6 Danish ships approached and when they reached Landskrona 6 of the Swedish ships was still outside the range of Landskrona castle and the guns.

When the Swedish ship Swärdet ran aground when dropping the anchor. Most of the crew survived, but the ship was full of injured people and they all died. Thanks to Holland the country of Denmark still exist today. At the peace in 1660 Sweden could keep Skåne and everything else belonging to Sweden today. Denmark only got the small island Bornholm. This was because powerful trade nations wanted to keep Øresund open. So it was the best solution to have different countries on each side of the Øresund

The Battle of the Sound
The Battle of the Sound - Attack on the Swedish fleet in Landskrona
From Samuel von Pufendorf’s book about Carl X Gustaf
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Another story from Øresund: In 1658 when Skåne became Swedish the inhabitants in Malmö planned a revolt against the Swedes. The Danish king thought it was a great Drunk pilotidea and send troops with ships from Copenhagen to Limhamn. Even though the ship had a pilot on board they ran aground off Saltholm.

If it wasn't for the pilot being negligent, clumsy and maybe even shit faced maybe the history would have looked different today.

Sweden was one of the first countries in the world with a well working land- survey. On land that served 2 purposes: The knowledge how much land the farmer had so they could tax the farmers to a maximum to be able to afford all the wars.

And the navy needed detailed charts.

Sweden was almost bankrupt because of all the wars. Back then it was a “hired” army. There were soldiers from all over Europe fighting for Sweden, but if they didn't got their salary they were soon leaving. This is the reason Sweden is the absolute best, outstanding, if you want to do genealogical research. They came up with an idea.

Let's use Swedish soldiers instead. So the Priests had to register every new born in Sweden from several hundred years ago. And there was everything mention. Born on the kitchen floor, missing a hand, not good for military duty etc. Measuring peoples land to the mm. If you had land of a certain size you needed to build a tenement soldier's cottage and support a soldier.

Wars between Sweden and Denmark:

• The war against Valdemar Birgersson (1274-1275)

• 6000-mark war (1276-1278)

• Dano-Swedish War (1470–1471)

• Dano-Swedish War (1501–1512)

• Swedish War of Secession (1521–23)

• Northern Seven Years' War (1563–70)

• Kalmar War (1611–13)

• Torstenson War (1643–45)

• Parts of the Second Northern War:
   -Dano-Swedish War (1657–1658)
   -Dano-Swedish War (1658–1660)

• Scanian War (1675–79)

• Great Northern War (1700–21)

• Theater War (1788–89), part of the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–90

• Parts of the Napoleonic Wars:
   -Dano-Swedish War (1808-1809)
   -German Campaign (1813–1814) during the War of the Sixth Coalition


Political control of Øresund has been an important issue in Danish and Swedish history. Denmark maintained military control with the coastal fortress of Kronborg at Helsingø on the west side and Kärnan at Helsingborg on the east, until 1658 when Sweden took Skåne. Both fortresses are located where the strait is 4 kilometres wide.

In 1429, King Eric of Pomerania introduced the Sound Dues which Denmark collected for more than four centuries, until 1857. The Sound Dues, well why not call it a toll. Øresund was a toll way and Denmark made a lot of money from it. The Toll was the Kings most important source of income and the Danish king was relatively independent of Denmark's Privy Council and aristocracy.

The Swedes founded Gothenburg and built Göta Canal from 1810 to 1832 to be independent of Øresund. But in 1857 The Copenhagen Convention abolished the Dues and made Øresund an international waterway.

Anyway, in 1694 to 1695 there was several charts published. Even though the charts were detailed there were a lot of unmarked shoals. Even the chart published 1737 over Öresund was insufficient.
And in 1746 the new sailing direction was published. In the new sailing direction it's advised not to use Flintrännan because of the treacherous shoals along the channel.

There have been pilots in Öresund since the 15th century. From time immemorial the Drogden channel between Copenhagen and Saltholm has been the safest passage through Öresund. Because of that there was most pilots stationed in Dragör. In 1684 Dragör got the royal privilege and the sole right to guide ships coming from the south through Öresund.

At times there was about 60 pilots' working there. Especially at the autumn there was plenty ships waiting for the wind from NW to change to SW. Sailing to windward were not recommended in Drogden channel because of the numerous shoals.

During this time many of the houses in Dragör get porches and lookout room “kikkenborg” on the roof ridge. From the roofs they looked for ships in need for a pilot. The people in Dragör got rich acting as guides in Öresund. Take a look at the houses next time passing Dragör you might catch a glimpse of a “kikkenborg”.

In Malmö the “Öresund's Pilot society” was founded 1872. Öresund's Pilot society had access to a private pilot boat that could reach the ships far out from the shore. The Danish pilots were not too happy about that and things turned sour.

17th May 1873 the Danish government issued a decree that the police could arrest any person that was not employed by the Danish pilot society guiding ships through Öresund. The Danish police started to arrest Swedish pilots without the right to do so, not without trouble. There was no police that could cope with a pilot known as “Big Petter” from Viken. When the police should search him he banged the fist in the table so the thick oak table cracked. Then he showed his valet with the word:
- Here is the money for the pilotage. Take it if you can.

The situation was intolerable and in August 1873 there was a treaty signed between Denmark and Sweden. Denmark got the right to guide ships in Drogden and the Swedes got the right to guide ships between Saltholm and Skåne in Flintrännan. At this time they placed Kalkgrund light vessel in Flintrännan

End of 1943 and Öresund was the scene for what must be considered a very unique episode in Europe during the World war II. Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany since 1940, but the Danish had refused to discriminate the Jews in Denmark. And I'm pretty sure this was pretty unique in the occupied Europe during the 40´s.

Jews fleeing the Nazis
Jewish refugees on board a fishing boat in Öresund in October 1943
Picture: USHMM - From www.levandehistoria.se

The government had attempted to discourage sabotage and violent resistance to the occupation, but by the autumn of 1942 the numbers of violent acts of resistance were increasing steadily to the point Jews fleeing the Nazisthat Germany declared Denmark “enemy territory” for the first time since to occupation.

Anyway, the Germans gave their permission to have a general election and in March 1943 the danish voters went to the pools.

Highest voter turnout in the history, 89,5% came to cast their ballots. The election, discontent, and a growing feeling of optimism that Germany would be defeated led to widespread strikes and civil disturbances in the summer of 1943.

During the German occupation, King Christian X became a powerful symbol of national sovereignty. This image was taken on the King's birthday in 1940. Note that he is not accompanied by a guard on the picture on the left hand side. Picture from Wikipedia

The Germans demanded the Danish Government to get a stop to the strikes and the disturbance, but they refused. The Germans gave the Danish government an ultimatum on the 28th of August 1943:
• A ban on people assembling in public

• Forbid strikes

• Introduction of a curfew

• Censorship

• Special German military courts should be introduced

• Death penalty should be introduced in cases of sabotage


The Danish government refused, so on 29 August 1943 the Germans officially dissolved the Danish government and instituted martial law. After the fall of the government, Denmark was exposed to the full extent of occupational rule. In October 1943 the Germans decided to send all the Danish Jews to concentration camps.

But the German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz leaked the information to the Danish and two busy months of sending the Jews across Öresund followed.

Most of the Danish Jews managed to get to Sweden in fishing boats and small boats. The Danes refused to help the Germans to arrest the remaining Jews. But 481 of them ended up in concentration camps in Germany. Most of the Danish Jews survived to Holocaust and returned to Denmark after the war.

Denmark fights for freedom

Click HERE to read more at BBC Word Service: The mass escape of Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark - By Ellen Otzen from 8 October 2013.

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