|Swinemünde had only 22,000 inhabitants in 1945 when Red Army Marshal Khudyakov put in an
urgent request to American General Carl Spaatz that the Allies bomb the city, not so much because
of the unimportant old naval base there or because Wehrmacht supply units were possibly camped
nearby, but because tens of thousands of German civilian refugees fleeing from the East had arrived
in Swinemünde and refugees were enemy targets that the communists wanted exterminated.
A train fully loaded with refugees was aboard the train ferry crossing the Swina and another train was
ready for departure in the harbor railway station. Schools and other public buildings were crowded
with the elderly, the sick and the wounded. There were estimates of from 70,000 to 100,000 people
in Swinemünde including the refugees, most of whom were East Prussian women and children.
671 "Flying Fortresses" with 3,216 pieces of high-explosives, accompanied by fighter jets, pounced
from the west over the Baltic. When at 12.00 o'clock noon, the sirens started to howl over the port,
people thought the bombers would go to Stettin or Berlin, but they didn't. Instead, they dropped their
deadly load in wave after wave upon Swinemünde from 12:06 pm to 12:58 pm. 1,608.5 tons of
bombs fell, including 1,000 lb bombs and two 500 pounders, almost entirely on the city center,
igniting about 50 fires which quickly encircled trapped civilians.
The bombers criss-crossed over the city center, destroying the small businesses and residential
buildings, covering the roads with rubble. The remaining concentrations were inflicted upon the
suburbs, the beach, west Swinemünde and concentrated small housing. Thousands of refugees were
unprotected and in the open air, exposed to the attack which claimed hundreds of them as fatalities.
12 fully-loaded refugee transport vessels had put into Swinemünde before the attack. 6 of them sank,
including the "Cordillera" and the "Andros."
570 people, most of them women and children, died when the "Andros" went down. The official
civilian death toll from the attack on Swinemünde stood at 23,000 for almost 50 years, and was
justified by the cemetery, police and hospital records as well as eye witness accounts. The number of
victims has been recently minimized by using the loose ratio of "one ton of Allied bombs killed an
average of 3.1 people," revising it down to a probably inaccurate 5,000. At the time of the attack,
there were reports of low flying aircraft spraying the exposed refugees with artillery fire, accounting
for the clustered groups of dead on the roadways, but as usual, this too has been refuted lately.
Although some damage was actually done to the docks, a few ships and a ferry boat, the U.S.A.
reported that results of the heavy attack supposedly had "not achieved its goal" of making the old
naval base at Swinemünde useless, after all. On May 5, 1945, the Soviet army occupied the town. In
the autumn of 1945, a Polish administration was inaugurated. This spelled a horror story for any
surviving German population of the town who had not fled in time (elsewhere on this site).