German Wadden Islands | Wangerooge

A short history

Wangerooge is one of the 32 Frisian Islands (or Wadden Islands) in the North Sea located close to the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It is the easternmost and smallest of the inhabited islands in the East Frisian Islands.

The strategic location has determined the history of Wangerooge. Pirates plundered the island as early as the 14th century. The English did so in the 17th century. A part of the population was alive with the barracks and smuggling. From the time of Napoleon to the present, the island is a seaside resort. From 1910 there was a military base on the island, resulting in heavy bombing in the Second World War. Wangerooge suffered severely due to its strategic location on the route to Wilhelmshaven, the home port of the German Navy.

In addition, there have also been a lot of flooding on Wangerooge. The last major flood was in 1855, which temporarily put an end to bathing tourism. Since the whole island used to be shifting constantly eastwards until sea defenses were built a century ago, old buildings were gradually lost to the sea.



No cars are allowed on the island, so take a ride with the narrow-gauge train from the harbour in the west to  the village in the middle of the island.




Wangerooge is the island with the oldest lighthouse on the German North Sea coast. It was built between 1597 and 1602 and had several floors, which, depending on the need, provided shelter for a beach storage facility, a prison, an ice cellar, a church and of course the shelter of the lighthouse keeper.

















The Westturm (West Tower) is a 56-meter-high brick tower on Wangerooge. The current tower from 1932 is a tribute to the old Westturm, the lighthouse from 1597. The latter was blown up in 1914 during the First World War in order not to serve the enemy ships as a highly visible mark. The tower is now used as a youth hostel and is a listed building.






This war cemetery contains the graves of 238 victims (including 131 German soldiers, 6 ‘Marinehelferinnen’ and an unknown number of foreign forced laborers) of the Allied bombardment on the Wangerooge peninsula on 25 April 1945.