Potato Germans

Memorial stone for the German immigrants at Frederiks churchyard southwest of Viborg, Denmark

The Potato Germans (Kartoffeltyskere) were a group of German families who settled in the heathlands of central Jutland in Denmark during the mid-1700s.[1][2] The term is sometimes also extended to their descendants.


The German immigrants moved to central Jutland when King Frederick V of Denmark promised 20 years of tax freedom, soil, livestock, money, and freedom from military service, for anyone who would cultivate the Jutlandic heaths. The settlers were mostly from Hesse and the Palatinate in modern-day Germany as well as from Austria. Men, women, and children included, 965 individuals spread across 265 families first arrived between 1759-63.

The majority settled on Alheden in the southernmost part of Fjends and the northernmost part of Lysgård in central Jutland. This comprises the site of the towns of Frederiks, Grønhøj, Havredal, and Karup.[3] Much of this land was difficult to cultivate because of how much heather the soil contained, but after it was burned the area became better suited for the cultivation of potatoes.[4]

The situation was difficult for the families. Many of settlers were craftsmen with little knowledge of farming. Most of the settlers subsequently left, with many moving back to Germany, but 59 of the families stayed on Alheden for more than a year.[5]


The Potato German settlers introduced a number of new surnames to Denmark. Though still rare in the country as a whole, many people living near Alheden still carry these surnames.[6]

  • Agricola,
  • Betzer, Bitsch, Bräuner, Bärthel,
  • Cramer,
  • Dickes, Dürr,
  • Frank,
  • Gantzhorn,
  • Harritz, Herbel-Schmidt, Hermann, Herold,
  • Jung,
  • Krath, Kriegbaum,
  • Lajer, Lauth,
  • Marcher, Marquard, Maul, Morratz,
  • Philbert,
  • Rost,
  • Schönheider (also spelled Schønheider),
  • Wacher, Wendel, Winkler, Woller, Würtz

See also


  1. ^ "kartoffeltyskere". Den Store Danske. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "Kartoffeltyskernes historie". henrikfrank.dk. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "Alheden". Salmonsens Konversationsleksikon , 2. udgave, bind I (1915). Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  4. ^ Gullestrup, Hans (2006). Cultural Analysis: Towards Cross Cultural Understan. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Business School Press. ISBN 978-8763001816.
  5. ^ "Frederiks kirke, Lysgård herred , Viborg amt". Church and Manor in Denmark. August 7, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "Kartoffeltyskerne på Alheden". Udarbejdet af ThiseWeb.dk. 23 April 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.


  • Valdemar Andersen (1970) Den jyske hedekolonisation (Aarhus: Universitetsforlaget. Skrifter udgivet af Jysk Selskab for Historie, Number 24) ISBN 9788750402213

External links

Coordinates: 56°22′30″N 9°04′33″E / 56.375137°N 9.075851°E / 56.375137; 9.075851

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