There is a town in Western Pomerania (North Western Poland) that emerged “miraculously” on the map of Poland in 1992. Its sudden revelation was not, however, the result of speedy construction of the whole town – there had been people living in Borne Sulinowo for a few decades before. It was purely the effect of declassification of a top secret Soviet military base that had been occupying the territory for nearly 50 years. The town officially did not exist; it was not marked on maps and roads led only to the lake or ended unexpectedly in the forest. The area was carefully guarded and unauthorized person was not allowed to draw near.
Borne Sulinowo has always been wrapped in mystery due to its intricate history. Just before the Second World War Germans resettled local inhabitants and by 1938 a large military garrison and training grounds for Wehrmacht were built there. A new town of Gross Born was raised. All facilities were officially opened by Adolf Hitler in person. The military complex composed of yet another, sister town – Westwalenhof (Grodek in Soviet times, nowadays: Klomino). In September 1939 a German POW camp was established in its neighborhood. More than 30,000 of Polish soldiers, as well as Russian, French and Jugoslavian POWs were murdered there. The area became part of the Pomeranian Rampart – a fortification line of over 900 concrete bunkers guarding the pre-war Polish-German border.
Once the place was taken over by the Red Army in February 1945, a new period in the towns’ history began. Borne Sulinowo and Klomino became the biggest top secret and perfectly guarded military base of the Northern Group of Forces. Although the area had been actually incorporated into Poland in 1945, it was de facto a Soviet Union territory and was excluded from Polish jurisdiction until October 1992. The territory of 180 km² was erased from all maps and called “forest areas”. Most likely, it was not only a military training ground equipped with usual military constructions such as magazines or bunkers – missile silos being found in the forest give evidence it might have been Soviet missile base. Nevertheless, hundreds of apartment blocks were constructed there too – although concealed, there were real towns in the forest.
After the communist reign had collapsed and Poland became a fully independent country, an agreement was finally reached to withdraw the occupying Soviet Army from Poland. The last Russian units (15,000 soldiers) left from Borne Sulinowo and Klomino in October 1992. The towns became a part of Poland and for the first time since 19th century were administered by civilian authorities. In 1993 a process of settlement started in Borne Sulinowo. Klomino has been left abandoned.
Nowadays, Borne Sulinowo is a prosperous town attracting tourists. It is delightfully situated in the forest on the lake. An educational path has been marked up presenting the most interesting objects and places (e.g. general Dubynin’s villa, barrack buildings or Soviet style blocks of flats called “leningrads”, etc.). Since 2004 the town has hosted the International Gathering of Military Vehicles. In the vicinity of Borne Sulinowo and Klomino, in the forest cemetery numerous common graves of Polish, Russian and French POWs can be found. The woods also conceal mysterious, now desolate, magazines and silos for long range rocket launchers. While Borne Sulinowo has become a tourist destination, Klomino is a hard-to-find place somewhere in the woods, being the only official ghost town in Poland.