Swinemunde

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Swinemunde is a German town and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Stettin Lagoon, situated on several islands, but mainly that of Usedom. It lies one and a half miles above the mouth of the river Swine. In 1904 it had a population of 10,300.[1] Swinemunde has been under Polish occupation since the end of World War II, its original population murdered and expelled by the Soviet and Polish communists, and replaced by Polish settlers.

History

The town was founded in 1740; fortifications were erected at the mouth of the river Swine, where two massive breakwaters were subsequently constructed, three-quarters of a mile to a mile in length, forming the entrance to the harbour.[2] The Kaiserfahrt canal, constructed during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II in the late 19th century, facilitated ship access from Swinemunde to Stettin. Before World War II, in the Rathaus-Platz (Town Hall Place), stood a magnificent bronze statue of the Kaiser Wilhelm I, by the sculptor Calaandelli (1893). Swinemunde became a fashionable sea-bathing place, attracting thousands of visitors annually to its sandy beaches about one mile north of the town.[3]

War crime

On Friday, March 12/13, 1945, Swinemünde, filled to bursting with frantic, half-starved, and exhausted refugees from East Prussia and Pomerania fleeing the advancing Soviet Red Army, was completely destroyed in a daylight bombing attack carried out by 660 United States Air Force B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers. While the combat log of the USA's 8th Air Force states that the target was the railroad marshalling yards on the periphery of the city, in reality the entire bomb load of over 1,800 tons of high explosive was dropped on the compact ancient center of Swinemünde. Approximately 23,000 people died in the raid, the vast majority of the victims women and children. In his book "Der Brand", German Historian Jörg Friedrich claims that for the bombing of Swinemünde many of the bombs had been fitted with very sensitive fuses in order to cause maximum blast and thus maximum casualties among the fugitives. To this day, survivors of the attack still speak of the attack as the "Massacre at Swinemünde".[4]

References

  1. Baedeker, Karl, Northern Germany, Leipzig and London, 1904, p.161.
  2. Baedeker, 1904, p.161.
  3. Baedeker, 1904, p.161.
  4. Friedrich, Jörg. Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940–1945, Propyläen Verlag, Munich, 2002. ISBN 3-549-07165-5