views updated Jun 08 2018

Heligoland. A small island in the North Sea off the mouth of the Elbe. It was taken from Denmark by the British in 1807 and used by British commerce, during the Napoleonic wars, as a base from which to smuggle goods into continental ports closed by the Berlin and Milan decrees. Heligoland was formally ceded to the British in 1814, but in 1890 was given to Germany in exchange for territories in east Africa, and subsequently used as a naval base. After the First World War, article 115 of the treaty of Versailles declared that the island should be demilitarized but remain under German sovereignty.

Richard A. Smith