Toward the end of World War Two, thousands of frantic refugees flocked into Swinemünde and were among the local population when the town was mercilessly bombed by the Allies at the request of the Soviets. Several refugee ships loaded with refugees were sunk in the harbor in the attack as well. It was at the time estimated that around 21,000 people were killed, although there are attempts to revise than number down.
This brought the settlement campaign designed to bring in new Poles to seize the former German homes and properties to a standstill. Swinemünde was cut off from the world and members of the UB (secret police) and the MO (Citizens’ Militia) on the islands found themselves free to do whatever they wanted with the captive German population. Soon, German civilians were being raped and murdered or having their fingers sadistically cut off for easy removal of rings.
Poland was allowed to “adjust” the border in 1945 here too, this time to first snatch the potable water reservoir of Swinemünde, then the town itself. They also grabbed the islands of the Oder river, and the border within the Pomeranian Bay was extended 6 miles. The modern German government was later forced to accept this as a condition of reunification.
Germans were arrested on the slightest pretext and they usually died of hunger and disease or were murdered while in custody. On January 5, 1946 five detainees at the police headquarters were killed, including a 16-year-old girl who had been in custody for two months and repeatedly raped after she was arrested by the UB officer who then killed her. Another German woman, arrested for arguing with a Polish woman, was beaten to death. A 22-year-old German civilian was hanged on a window bar, his body dangled on a rope outside the building. In the late 1980s, during ditch digging near the former MO building, workers dug up human bones in a mass grave containing at least 40 Germans.
Swinemünde is on Usedom, which is the second largest German Baltic Sea island, the largest being Rügen. Like Cyprus, Usedom is separated. Its eastern tip, including the town of Swinemünde, is now Polish. The number of Usedom islanders is about 75,000: 30,000 Germans inhabit their western and central part, which comprises 83 per cent of the complete island’s area, and 45,000 relocated Poles now live in the small eastern area, mostly in Swinemünde, which is now one of the main harbor towns of Poland. The strange border situation means that “Swinoujscie” can only be reached from the rest of Poland by two ferry connections since land entry from the German side is no longer dominated by the Communist government which formerly occupied East Germany.