Holmen Naval Base

The old Navy HQ

Holmen, Frederiksholm-Nyholm
PHOTO: Thomas Roland
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From 1690 to 1990, Holmen was the main base of the Danish Navy. Holmen consists of five man-made islands: Nyholm, Margretheholm, Frederiksholm, Dokøen and Arsenaløen. At Holmen, the Navy had its most important installations – shipyards, magazines and arsenals, cranes and guardhouse. The dockyards at Holmen served as the main port for the Danish naval fleet. At the dockyards, ships were built for the Navy right until 1972 when it became a repair yard until Holmen was finally decommissioned. In 1990, Holmen was sold. The Naval fleet now docks at the ports of Korsør and Frederikshavn. The island of Nyholm is still owned by the Armed Forces, and the Royal Danish Naval Academy is located here.

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The hour of reckoning

If only walls could talk! As we stand there in historic surroundings, what tales they could tell us of the past! The walls in Holmen's old apparel store, built in 1889 can actually tell stories. Here, for generations, conscripts have etched their names and other particulars in the bricks, as they waited to be issued with their uniforms. Some of them wrote the name of their ship: Ægir, Dannebrog, and so forth. But now and again the walls record dramatic events in Holmen's and Denmark's history. For example, one brick reads: N.J. Frastein, prisoner of war 1943 – THE HOUR OF RECKONING IS NIGH. On the next brick it says: IT IS HERE MAY 1945. These inscriptions show that the history of Holmen is not only one of ships and cannons, but also the personal histories of thousands of Danish naval conscripts.