Born in Marienfließ in Pomerania (renamed Marianowo after 1945), Prussia, Swarsensky gained a PhD from the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, Berlin) in 1929. He became a liberal Rabbi with Jüdische Gemeinde zu Berlin, the Jewish unity congregation comprising the bulk of Jewish faithful in Berlin and combining Jews of mainstream (also called liberal, in today's English terminology 'conservative'), Orthodox and Reform affiliation. In 1938 the Nazis burned his preferred synagogue on Prinzregentenstraße and imprisoned him in Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
He married Ida Weiner (January 22, 1918 – June 15, 2010) and had two children.
The Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award, awarded for outstanding voluntary contributions on behalf of race relations, women's health, conservation or public service, is named after him and is awarded annually by the Rotary Club of Madison, of which Rabbi Swarsensky was a member. Rabbi Swarsensky also served as Chair of Jewish Learning while teaching at Edgewood College.
- Mensch: Biography and Writings of Manfred Eric Swarsensky, Marvin Zolot, Edgewood College Press, 2009
- Biographical guide to Forest Hill Cemetery: the ordinary and famous women and men who shaped Madison and the world. Historic Madison, Inc. 2002. p. 343. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Kerry M. Olitzky; Marc Lee Raphael (1996). The American Synagogue: A Historical Dictionary and Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-313-28856-2. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Barbara J. Love (2006). Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-252-03189-2. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Central Conference of American Rabbis, Annual convention. Central Conference of American Rabbis. 1983. p. 260. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- Leon Cohen (October 30, 2009). "New book captures dramatic life of Madison's Rabbi Swarsensky". The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.
- Guide to the Manfred Swarsensky Collection at the Leo Baeck Institute, New York.
- Manfred Swarsenksy,
Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust, Wisconsin Historical Society