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History of the island of Bornholm Beginnings of settlement


Bornholm has been inhabited since prehistoric times (the oldest evidence of human settlement dates from 9000-8000 BC). At that time Bornholm had land connections to present-day Poland and Germany, from which it separated between 6800-4500 BC.
Around 3500 BC there was a fortified camp near present-day Aakirkeby, as evidenced by the fortifications and earth ramparts that have survived to the present day. The first traces of agriculture on the island also date from this period.
Numerous rock carvings in Madsebakke and numerous menhir cult stones date from the 13th - 9th centuries BC.


Middle Ages

In the 5th-6th century AD, the island was inhabited by the Germanic Burgundian tribe and later by the Vikings. The earliest references to Bornholm, which was then called Burgundarholm, come from this period (890).
The 9th-12th century was a time of battles between the Germanic Danes and the Slavic Wends over the island. The rotund defensive churches on Bornholm date from this period (four of them are still standing today, at Nyker, Olsker, Nylars and Østerlars. In 1149 a large part of Bornholm came under the rule of the Archbishopric of Lund, and from then on the island became the scene of armed rivalry between the Danish royal governors and representatives of the Archbishopric of Lund. The seat of the ecclesiastical authorities was Hammershus Castle in the north of the island (its construction began around 1250), and the seat of the royal authorities was the old fortress of Lilleborg (extended in 1150), located in the central part of the island in what is now Almindingen forest. As a result of ongoing battles, Lilleborg has destroyed.

Modern Times

During the 14th and 15th centuries, the actual power over the island was exercised by merchants from Lübeck, who took over sovereignty over the island in 1525.
In 1578 King Frederick II of Denmark regained control of the island. In 1645 during the battles between Denmark and Sweden for control of the Baltic Sea, Bornholm was temporarily taken by the Swedes.
However, in the same year, an uprising against Swedish rule broke out on Bornholm, led among others by Jens Pedersen Kofoed (1628-1691), Paul Anker and Willum Clausen. The insurgents were victorious, killing among others the Swedish commander of the island Printzensköld (1615-1658) and driving out the Swedish troops. The uprising was ended by the peace treaty in Copenhagen in 1660, and the island was handed over to the Danish Crown, and the inhabitants were granted many royal privileges. The islanders were given the privilege of producing alcohol, and the Bornholm Defence Force, which exists to this day alongside the regular army and is made up exclusively of islanders, was formed.
In the 17th century, the extraction of rock and coal began. Profits from the sale of these commodities and from fishing were the beginning of the island's economic development, interrupted by epidemics and Napoleonic wars.
Successive kings of Denmark strengthened Bornholm militarily as an important naval base for Denmark. In 1684, King Christian V began building a naval fortress on a small island 18 km to the east of Bornholm named after him, Christiansø, which is still under the jurisdiction of the Danish Ministry of Defence.
After the wars ended, Bornholm began to develop economically again.
In 1866, permanent shipping lines were opened to Copenhagen and nearby Ystad in Sweden (sailing was maintained on a daily basis, using steamboats).
This contributed to the development of tourism on Bornholm, especially after the opening of a permanent ferry connection to Sassnitz on the German island of Rugen, and later to Kołobrzeg in Poland.


World War II

On 10 April 1940, the Germans landed on the island and began building fortifications near Dueodde (in the south of the island) with positions for 2 large coastal artillery guns. The German occupation was not troublesome for the islanders, and there were no major acts of resistance against the occupiers.
The Bornholm fishermen took part in the evacuation of Jews from Denmark to neutral Sweden at a time when they were threatened with deportation to death camps. Faced with an attempt by the Nazi troops to resist, the Russians bombed Rønne and Nexø on 7 and 8 May 1945, destroying around 800 houses. In the face of these air raids and the presence of about 26,000 refugees from Germany and the Baltic countries, the commander of the German garrison of several hundred men, Gerhard von Kamptz, surrendered on 9 May 1945 to the Red Army, which occupied the island with about 10,000 soldiers until 5 April 1946, when it left Bornholm almost overnight.

Allinge has a cemetery with the graves of 36 Soviet soldiers who died of disease during that period. In 1946 Sweden donated 300 wooden houses (which still exist today) to the inhabitants of Bornholm in order to rebuild the towns that had been bombed by the Russians.

Bornholm today

After the Second World War Bornholm, as part of modern Denmark, benefited from building assistance from the Americans and Scandinavian neighbors. The devastation of the last days of the war was quickly removed.
Bornholm is now a province of Denmark, with about 40,000 people living on the island. As part of a Western European country, Bornholm has a relatively high gross national product and a good pension and social system.
Most of the islanders now live from tourism or agriculture. Fishing has lost its historical importance.
In addition to quality cuisine initiated with regionality and seasonality in mind, there is a strong emphasis on renewable energy sources and sustainability.

Outdoor with VisitBornholm
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