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Three killed in WWII bomb explosion
Photo: DPA

Three killed in WWII bomb explosion

Published: 02 Jun 2010 08:20 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Jun 2010 13:10 GMT+02:00

The explosion happened about 9:30 pm on Tuesday as the specialists were trying to make the 500-kilogram US bomb safe after builders found it on a work site where a new stadium is being constructed.

Göttingen police chief Robert Kruse said on Wednesday it was still unclear why the bomb had exploded. The officers killed were aged 38, 52 and 55, he said.

They each had 20 to 30 years' experience and had taken part in defusing about 700 bombs between them, he said, adding it was ''a very sad day.''

Six others were hurt. Two of them, aged 46 and 49, had serious, though not life-threatening, injuries, according to Göttingen city spokesman Detlef Johannson.

All the victims were involved in the defusing operation and were members of the Lower Saxony bomb squad, Johannson said.

Fire department spokesman Frank Gloth told daily Bild: “We’d got the evacuation measures well under way. The workers from the bomb squad began to carry out the first preparatory operations … for the disarming. That’s when the bomb exploded.

“In total, 13 workers with the bomb squad were involved in the operation. We are all shocked here. The defusing of a similar bomb a few days ago went smoothly.”

More than 60 years after the end of World War II, weapons recovery remains an important task for police throughout Germany. Allied forces dropped more than 2.7 million tonnes of explosives across Germany during the war. Some of the ordnance did not explode and has become increasingly dangerous with time and corrosion.

Entire neighbourhoods are frequently evacuated for bomb removal, and most are safely defused. Construction and road workers are trained to call emergency services the moment they suspect they've found unexploded ordnance, but accidents still occasionally happen.

In 1994, three construction workers were killed and eight bystanders injured when an unexpected bomb detonated, tearing through nearby buildings and cars in Berlin. In 2006, a road worker was killed near Frankfurt when his excavator hit a bomb.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:09 June 2, 2010 by Celeon
The bomb had a acid fuse. These are the most dangerous ones as they are renowned for staying functional even after decades.
09:55 June 2, 2010 by DepotCat
During building work they still dig up old German bombs dropped all over the U.K. Britain learnt alot from the German technique of aerial bombing employing timers in bombs etc. They also took on board the lesson learnt from the Coventry raid and later used those lessons to good effect against Germany.

There is a quote "They [Germans] sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind". It's just a shame that people are still paying with their lives for that conflict today.
16:02 June 2, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
This is just a really sad bit of news. It's unfortunate that these men, after serving the public for so very long, would fall victim to a conflict that was sown before they were born. I can only assume that they are in a better place now, enjoying the fruits of having spent a lifetime helping others.
17:01 June 2, 2010 by Pos123
Quote: "I also find the whole "we just found an old bomb" thing kinda weird."

Maybe you have got the wrong picture of allied area bombardment during WW2? Can you tell where the unexploded ones are? Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wesel_1945.jpg

Or here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hamburg_after_the_1943_bombing.jpg

Another Spiegel article reads:

" [...] the Allies waged a five-year strategic air offensive during which they dropped 1.9 million tons of bombs [...] Most estimates for the percentage of unexploded bombs range from 5 to 15 percent -- or between 95,000 and 285,000 tons."
17:10 June 2, 2010 by William Thirteen
indeed, here in Berlin we have issues with unexploded ordnance a few times each month. while i don't share the same assumptions regarding an afterlife as the fine Grenadier from Aachen, i do share his sadness and hope that the selfless sacrifice of these brave individuals is recognized and their families compensated for their loss as best they can be.
17:25 June 2, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
Some of these remarks are sadly callous and unnecessary... This is a sad reminder of a terrible time. I hope that in the future there will be better strategies chosen like detonating them on location when possible.

I too live in Hannover where you can still see evidence of the conflict. Most people in the US have no idea how terrible war is...
18:50 June 2, 2010 by Celeon
@ Jimbo

Well , there are several reasons for a bomb not going off.

Wrongly adjusted fuses, manufacturing faults , soft soil (in connection with wrongly adjusted fuses), unsuitable impact angle , low quality of components, crew forgot to remove safety pins here and there...

I think manufacturing faults right in the factories are the main reason.

Remember that bombs were mass production products assembeled in 24 hour shifts and quantity was more important than quality.
19:13 June 2, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
@Biggseye

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

If Britain had been in the same situation, things wouldn't have happened any differently. That aside, if you want to attribute fault for the actions of a bye-gone generation to a 55 year old father who spent his life protecting others, then so be it. Mind you, that would make you a fool, and one consumed by hate at that, but that is your choice.
19:25 June 2, 2010 by biker hotel harz
Biggseye, what a load of tosh. You should be ashamed of writing shite like that!!!
19:32 June 2, 2010 by Biggseye
Oh, never by hate, only the desire to hold the people that created, supported, and carried out the largest case of mass murder in history accountable. No German, for at least 10 generations should be allowed to forget their families complicity in the deaths of 30 million in WWII. This includes their own neighbors because they were too gutless to speak out. Those that stood by and did nothing are as responsible as those that actually carried arms.

Think of what this world would be like if the Germans had not been stopped, the death toll would have been 100 Million or more. No, the actions of the German people in WWI and WWII should not be forgotten, nor the responsibility forgotten. Remember, Close to 20 years of the 20 century were blighted by these people.

This hold True for the Japanese as well.
19:39 June 2, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
@Biggseye

Actually, the Russians beat us by a huge margin in terms of numbers, but they weren't dumb enough to make an accounting of it. Also, if you really want to get technical about it, we could discuss the millions of natives through-out the world that were starved, murdered, oppressed, or held in subservience by the British Empire. You were never held accountable for that, either. So, be careful about your moral high horse - it's a bit sickly and infirm.

That aside, what you're saying makes no sense whatsoever. You're going to hold me accountable for the crimes of our grandparents? Generational guilt is one of the things that caused both World Wars, as is the revanchist philosophy you're spouting. I am trying hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you contradict yourself and prove yourself a fool consistently.
19:59 June 2, 2010 by old sparky
To all who are being drawn into an argument by a sad little biggot AKA Biggseye. He does not speak for the majority of the british people. The wars of the 20th century were a tragedy that should never be forgotten, but they are of the past.

My parents fought in ww2, my father saw men die, possibly he killed, he never said. He held no animosity towards a people that he had been in conflict with. My granparents fought in ww1. They lost brothers and other family members. They too held no animosity towards the German people. Indeed, my granmother used to feed the POWs when they were sent to work on the roads in her home village. If anyone said anything, she would say "I would hope that someone in Germany would do the same for my sons if the roles were reversed".

The point is, 3 brave men have died in a tragedy. 3 families are without fathers, brothers and sons tonight. They gave their lives trying to dispose of something that was dropped a long time ago. But they gave their lives to protect others. They were very brave and honourable men. My thoughts go out to their families.
20:51 June 2, 2010 by Gussy
@Biggseye

Your message #27 is absolutely disgraceful - these men died in public service, for God´s sake.
21:24 June 2, 2010 by jade_divoff
@Der Grenadier aus Aachen

Message #31 was intellectually and morally on point...I could not have put it better myself.
00:01 June 3, 2010 by Joshontour
My brother works on a bomb squad in Florida, from time to time they unearth ww2 era bombs dropped in training runs which never exploded. The difference is that they don't try to "diffuse" these types of bombs, they pack them with plastique clear the area and detonate. Why they don't do the same here is beyond me.
01:37 June 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
Robots can be successfully used to defuse bombs, and are routinely used by the US government and all major metropolitan police departments. I don't know why they weren't used here.

But this article begs another more urgent question: what to do about the millions of land mines that are still embedded around the world just waiting to blow up innocent civilians? When are we going to start caring about that problem?
02:29 June 3, 2010 by Prufrock2010
If the Allies hadn't bombed Germany in World War II this never would have happened. Of course, other things would have happened.....
14:59 June 3, 2010 by scmadden
EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal-military bomb squad) is dangerous, even in peace time.

I once went on a call to locate and blow up 12 500lb bombs that had dropped and not gone off in a bombing range in California (probably fusing wire not removed before flight). We found 7 of them. Some had porpised back up (gone into the ground and resurfaced) some had stuck nose in with the fins showing and some had buried themselves more than 2 meters down. And 5 we did not find and we were looking for them in a place we knew they should be.

Most US and European fuses are complex enough to be safe to handle while loading so giving a higher failure rate when dropped than countries with less concern for safety.

Robots aren't large enough to dig up and defuse 500kg bombs. They are employed mainly against IEDs which are smaller and easier to get to. Men still have to do the hardest and most dangerous work.
18:05 June 3, 2010 by Biggseye
Where would it ever end? Germany paying for old artillery shells in France which are dug up every time people work on the fields in the old battle zones?

Why not? they put them there, they should be responsible for them. And to cut off any nasty feedback on this, I think the Russians, the Americans, the British, all of them, should be held accountable for the left overs of war. That goes for the generation that left them there and all generations that follow until the last of this deadly garbage is gone.

As for why Bombs fail to go off, it is because of poor design, bad assembly, the way it hits the ground, the condition of the fuse and firing mechanism, and remember that many bombs were designed to delay a period of time before exploding. Often this was done to allow it to penetrate to do more damage, but the Germans were the only nation in WWII that created bombs that were specifically designed to kill, not the civilian population, but the EOD personal of the Royal Engineers. It was the Germans that designed and deployed the famous Butterfly bomb in WWII, that had no purpose other then to kill the curious, many of them children.

To those that dislike my point of view, call me bigot, and other nasty terms, I take your opinion as a point of praise, your thinking, which is much more than the average German did during the NAZI era.

I do not hate the German, those that cost the lives of 3 of my uncles and one of my wife's, or the Japanese, that cost the life of other relatives. I hold them responsible for what happened. Them and their children, and their children's children. Until the last member of the generations that brought this horror on the world or benefited from these actions is gone, relegated to the pages of History. Maybe, just maybe, this will remind people that the next Brutal, genocidal Crazy ass bastard that comes along is not worth following.

There were those that wanted to completely erase Germany from the face of the earth, giving pieces of to each of the nations that bore the brunt of the aggression in 2 world wars. I do not agree with that idea, but wonder how Europe would have turned out if it had taken place.
22:31 June 3, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
Yes, I'm sure dividing Germany between the allied powers and trying to erase all German culture would have worked very well.

It's not like German did anything extreme the last time it's enemies tried to halt it's national advancement and economic prosperity... *lightbulb* oh, wait.

Ok, that was a bit sarcastic. But the point is, a plan to just carve Germany up wouldn't have worked. Many nations in Europe were carved up for hundreds of years and reformed themselves when given the opportunity, and these were nations with a much less pronounced cultural identity than the Germans. All vengefulness would have achieved would have been a bloodier backlash - just like last time.
01:27 June 4, 2010 by Le Monde
@Der Grenadier

"Actually, the Russians beat us by a huge margin in terms of numbers, but they weren't dumb enough to make an accounting of it. "

Really? Have you ever heard about Aktion 1005?

It is well established fact that you nazis were in the most cowardly and duplicitious way obliterating the traces of your crimes. In fact Soviets were much more honest beaurocrats than you. And yes nazi policies were unique in scale, scope and genocidal logic.

"Yet even this corrected image of the Holocaust conveys an unacceptably incomplete sense of the scope of German mass killing policies in Europe. The Final Solution, as the Nazis called it, was originally only one of the exterminatory projects to be implemented after a victorious war against the Soviet Union. Had things gone the way that Hitler, Himmler, and Göring expected, German forces would have implemented a Hunger Plan in the Soviet Union in the winter of 1941­1942. As Ukrainian and south Russian agricultural products were diverted to Germany, some 30 million people in Belarus, northern Russia, and Soviet cities were to be starved to death. The Hunger Plan was only a prelude to Generalplan Ost, the colonization plan for the western Soviet Union, which foresaw the elimination of some 50 million people."

" The Germans did manage to carry out policies that bore some resemblance to these plans. They expelled half a million non-Jewish Poles from lands annexed to the Reich. An impatient Himmler ordered a first stage of Generalplan Ost implemented in eastern Poland: ten thousand Polish children were killed and a hundred thousand adults expelled. The Wehrmacht purposefully starved about one million people in the siege of Leningrad, and about a hundred thousand more in planned famines in Ukrainian cities. Some three million captured Soviet soldiers died of starvation or disease in German prisoner-of-war camps. These people were purposefully killed: as with the siege of Leningrad, the knowledge and intention to starve people to death was present. Had the Holocaust not taken place, this would be recalled as the worst war crime in modern history. "

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/jul/16/holocaust-the-ignored-reality/

I am very happy that you lost, you scumbag!
04:44 June 4, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
As for your assertion, I never said that we didn't try to erase evidence of the crimes. I only meant that we *wrote them down*, whereas the Russians didn't. Stalin was estimated to have killed approximately 16 million of his own citizens over the course of his reign, but there was little documented proof. That is all I was saying.

As for the lengthy quote, most of that wasn't news to me.

I won't comment on the personal attack.
02:54 June 5, 2010 by rid1541
We had plenty of bombs in Göttingen, where I grew up and recall the air raids and trips to the shelter when I was a small child. What happened in Göttingen on June 1. shocked me and brought back awful memories, as it did for many of my generation and older. I followed live ticker from Göttingen immediately.Göttingen is a city of 150,000. The fact is, it was an American bomb from Jan, 1 1945, 1300 hrs. there were record from the air raids during that time as well as casualty counts. These bombs were meant for the railroad station, rails, and tracks. Many ended up nearby in soft ground near the river, more are in the ground, and as I write are being searched for.

Many bombs have been found all over Germany since the war,especially around Hannover and Kassel, very few have taken lives.What does the 4 y/o I was know about war, only fear when it rains fire from the sky.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families from Hannover.The families all attended the special church service last night in Göttingen.

I am apalled by the hateful comments on this forum.

No country I know of has a clean past. I now live in the US, there was/is plenty of evil here too, the victorious write the history.

I do enjoy regularly reading the German Local here in the States. Ingrid F. Kingston. NY
05:46 June 5, 2010 by wbarnim
To all those who think this is the right place to express glee or explain how deserving Germans are of all this: Three people died in 2010. They were taken from their parents, spouses, children and friends as victims of a war that ended over 60 years ago, in 1945. What satisfaction can this give to anyone? It is hard to understand how anyone can think that these deaths are the right occcasion to argue history or re-fight the war. There are people grieving right now. Just imagine that one of them reads these hate-filled comments here.
07:03 June 7, 2010 by wenddiver
@wbarnim-Well said, what could be more honarable than taking apart a bomb, so other people can be safe. My God be with the peacemakers, like he says he is. These men would be in the highest tradition of this. May God be with them, their families and Bomb de-fusers everywhere.
20:37 June 7, 2010 by nunitak
Not everyone over here knows what war is like would be a more accurate statement and the same is true in Germany now, probably more so. This is a terrible event and a reminder of the costs of war, even to the children of the future. Skiers can be located under avalanche by some kind of passive RFID chip. Bombs should have those by international aw, Complete instructions for defusing should be on a website. Now, if only U.S. quality could improve, touché. Designers who make disarming difficult are crueler than I am, to say the least. But looking back, I think our principal aiim was no explosion until sometime after bomb dropped. Further planning and foresight in total absence. Even my level of ethics is still missing pretty much everywhere. I am grieved along with the men and their families. Think not that we are uncaring. If only our percentage in government were higher.
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