Skip to main content

Experts defuse unexploded WWII bomb in central Berlin

From Diana Magnay. Stephanie Halasz and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
April 3, 2013 -- Updated 2234 GMT (0634 HKT)
A <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/03/world/europe/germany-berlin-bomb/index.html'>defused World War II bomb</a> sits securely after its removal alongside a rail line near Berlin's central railway station Wednesday, April 3. The 220-pound device was a Russian aerial bomb dropped during the war, police said. Many unexploded bombs dropped by the Allies remain undiscovered in Berlin and other German cities nearly seven decades later.<!-- -->
</br>
A defused World War II bomb sits securely after its removal alongside a rail line near Berlin's central railway station Wednesday, April 3. The 220-pound device was a Russian aerial bomb dropped during the war, police said. Many unexploded bombs dropped by the Allies remain undiscovered in Berlin and other German cities nearly seven decades later.
HIDE CAPTION
WWII bomb found near Berlin rail station
WWII bomb found near Berlin rail station
WWII bomb found near Berlin rail station
WWII bomb found near Berlin rail station
WWII bomb found near Berlin rail station
WWII bomb found near Berlin rail station
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The bomb squad says the device could have blown a crater 10 feet deep
  • Experts successfully defuse a 220-pound bomb near Berlin's main train station
  • "Here in Berlin it is a fact of daily life to defuse bombs," a police spokesman says
  • Many World War II-era bombs remain undiscovered in Berlin and other cities

Berlin (CNN) -- It happens more often than you might think: Streets cordoned off and bomb disposal experts called in to deal with unexploded bombs that were dropped on Germany nearly 70 years ago.

Commuters in Berlin Wednesday were the latest to suffer the inconvenience of dealing with ordnance dating back to World War II.

This time the culprit was a Russian-made aerial bomb weighing in at 100 kilograms (220 pounds), unearthed just two meters away from a train track leading into the city's main train station.

Nearly 840 people were evacuated from the central Berlin area, police said, before bomb disposal experts moved in to defuse the device.

WWII bomb found in Berlin

About 25 minutes after they started their delicate task, the mechanical fuse was unscrewed and the bomb was disabled.

Alert over, Berliners could return home and go back to their everyday business.

A member of the bomb disposal team told CNN the bomb could have blown a crater 3 to 4 meters wide and 3 meters (10 feet) deep, had it gone off.

The device was discovered by Heidestrasse, a lightly populated street with an industrial feel in the former "no man's land" between East Berlin and West Berlin.

"They do risk a lot, but they have a lot of experience," Berlin police spokesman Jens Berger told CNN as the bomb disposal team set to work.

"Here in Berlin it is a fact of daily life to defuse bombs, but without question they are risking a lot."

Wednesday's operation was made more complicated because there was a depot for freight trains on one side of the site and houses on the other, Berger said.

The device was found Tuesday afternoon by a bomb disposal team that was checking out a construction site near the Hauptbahnhof, the central station.

Roads were closed in the area overnight as the experts assessed the best way to deal with the device. Some train services were delayed Wednesday, said Holger Auferkamp, spokesman for national railway operator Deutsche Bahn, but Berlin's metro system, or S-Bahn, was not affected.

It may seem surprising that unexploded bombs remain undiscovered in Berlin and other German cities decades after World War II ended. But so many were dropped by Allied forces during the war that finding them all will still take years.

From the archives: WWII bombs defused, allowing 45,000 evacuated residents to return

Their presence is sufficiently common that private bomb disposal teams are contracted by German railway operator Deutsche Bahn and other companies to check that sites are safe when building works are planned.

Some bigger devices have been found elsewhere.

A 250-kilogram (550-pound) bomb discovered in central Munich last August had to be detonated where it lay because the fuse was unstable. The explosion damaged nearby buildings.

In 2011, 45,000 residents were evacuated from the city of Koblenz, situated on the Rhine and Moselle rivers, as bomb squads dealt with two bombs and a military fog-producing device that were dropped by American and British warplanes in the last years of the war.

One was a 1.8-metric ton British air bomb that could have wiped out the city center, according to the local fire brigade.

They were exposed 65 years after being dropped when water levels in the Rhine River fell to record lows, prompting what officials said was the biggest evacuation since the war's end.

Sometimes the bombs can have a more deadly impact.

Three members of a bomb-disposal squad were killed in 2010 when the device they were trying to defuse in the German town Gottingen went off.

Unexploded munitions a dangerous legacy of war

CNN's Diana Magnay reported from Berlin and Stephanie Halasz from London, while Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT