Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas in Swinemünde


At the beginning of the 20th century, Swinemünde was what we call a boom town today. The town experienced an immense upturn. The harbour was well-known in international commerce, trade routes connected the town with points all over the world, and in particular in summer, an illustrious crowd of guests enjoyed themselves in the prosperous seawater and saltwater spa. Swinemünde was 'in' not only among "normal" spa visitors, but attracted also many VIPs. For instance, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II visited the town regularly from 1882 on the occasion of the "Kaisertage" (emperor's days). Visits of foreign crowned heads were quite usual.
In 1907, a historic meeting took place in Swinemünde, which went down in the annals of history as the "two-emperors' meeting". On 4th August 1907, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Russian Tsar Nicholas II met in Swinemünde (they were cousins). It was no wonder that Swinemünde became the focus of international attention, since this meeting was intended to reorganize and to secure the political conditions in Europe for years.
Visitors rushed from all parts of Germany to watch the event at least from the side-lines. According to eyewitnesses, the whole beach from Swinemünde to Bansin was teeming with inhabitants and visitors. They saw the white imperial yacht "Hohenzollern", which was lying in the roads of Swinemünde, escorted by a major part of the German fleet. The black "Kronstadt" of the Tsar - permanently circled by Russian torpedo boats - dropped her anchor next to the German yacht. With binoculars, spectators could watch the German Kaiser wearing the uniform of a Cossack colonel, whilst the Russian Tsar wore the uniform of a Prussian dragoon colonel.
After the German Kaiser had proposed a toast to the Tsar, a welcome salute was fired from the guns of Swinemünde's fortress at 13:00 hours on the dot. In the evening, big firework display could be watched at sea. Red, blue, green and white rockets whizzed through the air, and the contours of the ships, which were illuminated by thousands of light bulbs, stood out against the dark horizon.
The highlight of the show was two huge letters appearing in the sky - W for Wilhelm and N for Nicholas - as a symbol of the eternal friendship they had allegedly sworn to each other . After one hour, by midnight, the light show was over. However, people danced on the promenade and on the pier until the morning and sang patriotic songs.
Nevertheless, the hopes for a long-lasting peace were very soon shattered; and the friendly alliance turned out to be nothing but worthless paper only seven years later.

 The period of peace ended on 1st August 1914. A trumpet signal given by the the bugler of Swinemünde's garrison announced the beginning of World War I. Almost all spa visitors went home in a hurry and suddenly the town showed a completely different appearance. Two colours prevailed everywhere - the grey of the army uniforms and the blue of the navy.
Dr. J. Pl.