Once again Bornholm is occupied
The last occasion on which Bornholm felt its exposed position in the high political game was World War II. Like the rest of Denmark, Bornholm was occupied by the Germans in April 1940. But unlike the rest of Denmark, it was not liberated on 4 May 1945. The German commandant on Bornholm, von Kamptz, refused to surrender to the Russians. They had captured the Pomeranian coastline as far as Rügen, however, so Bornholm was behind that front. Rønne and Nexø were therefore bombarded by the Russians on 7 and 8 May. (pic.)
Fortunately, the towns were evacuated after the initial bombardment on 7 May, so the loss of life was limited to 10 locals, but an unknown number of Germans and refugees from the Baltic States. The towns sustained severe damage, however, with only about 400 out of 3,400 properties being left unharmed in Rønne and nearly every building being damaged in Nexø. Around 650 properties in total were either burnt out or had to be demolished. The Russians landed and occupied the island, with it being a full 11 months before they left again.
When it came to rebuilding Rønne and Nexø, Bornholm received a gift from its old arch enemy, Sweden, consisting of 300 Swedish timber houses. The districts where they are located are still preserved, and the houses are still lived in. You can find out more about Bornholm during World War II by visiting the Bornholm Museum and the Defence Museum in Rønne.
The Bornholm Museum has published a picture book that tells the full story of the war: Bornholm i Krig, 1940-1946 (Bornholm at War, 1940-1946).
Despite Bornholm's troubled and turbulent past, many traces of which can be found in its landscape, the main impression for visitors and islanders alike is one of peace and quiet, magnificent scenery, idyllic towns and evocative fishing hamlets.