1946: The USSR Once Occupied Bornholm, Part of Denmark

1946: The USSR Once Occupied Bornholm, Part of Denmark
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 5 April 1946
  • Just as they occupied the eastern part of Germany, the Soviets after World War II also held under occupation the Danish island of Bornholm. It is a strategically important island in the Baltic Sea. In the Middle Ages, the largest fortress in the whole of Northern Europe - Hammershus - was built there.

On this day the Soviet occupation troops finally left the Danish island of Bornholm. It is not widely known that the Soviets, for some time after World War II, kept that part of Denmark under occupation, much like the eastern part of Germany.

The island of Bornholm is located in a strategically very important position, in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Traffic through the Baltic Sea can be controlled from it, and the largest medieval fortification in the whole of Northern Europe – Hammershus, was built on it.

The name Bornholm roughly means “the island of the Burgundians”, and some believe that that important Germanic tribe, after which Burgundy in France was named, originated from this island.

Toward the end of World War II, the Germans on the island of Bornholm knew that surrender is inevitable. They did not want to surrender to the Soviets, and they even asked the British to send at least one soldier on the island, so they could surrender to him. That attempt failed, so the Soviets occupied the island in May 1945. The German garrison of about 12,000 men surrendered after a short fight.

On this day the Soviet Union decided to withdraw its forces, after about 11 months of occupation. However, the Soviet Union set a condition that Western forces can never in the future be stationed on the island.

Indeed, the Soviets believed that the arrival of U.S. forces on the island was tantamount to a declaration of war on the Soviet Union – such is the strategic importance of this Baltic island.

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