Potsdam evacuated for huge WWII bomb

Evening traffic in Potsdam was severely affected after the entire city centre and the main train station were closed for removal of a 250-kilogramme World War II-era bomb found during road construction work on Monday afternoon.

Potsdam evacuated for huge WWII bomb
The bridge near where the bomb was found. Photo: DPA

Workers discovered the English bomb during work on a new bridge, municipal officials said. The main train station in the Brandenburg city just outside Berlin was closed at 3 pm. Some 3,000 people were evacuated to safety by local police so that experts could begin work on defusing the live bomb.

According to daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, a backhoe driver discovered the Allied bomb, which has a mechanical fuse. People within a 500-metre radius were evacuated because according to the city’s experts, it could cause a “devastating explosion” and destroy the new bridge. The evacuation, which included a 17-story hotel, multiplex movie theatre, shopping centre and the train station, is expected to last until the early evening hours. The city was unable to say when the bomb would be defused.

Local transportation was rerouted around the evacuation, city officials said. Several thousand evening train commuters on 18 scheduled trains will be affected as all train traffic will be blocked between at least 6 pm to 8 pm.

More than 60 years after the end of World War II, weapons recovery remains an important task for police and private companies throughout Germany. City-state Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg, were some of the most heavily bombed parts of the country during the war.

The entire city of Berlin is considered potentially dangerous by bomb clean-up experts. Allied forces dropped more than 2.7 million tonnes of explosives across Germany during the war. Much of the ordnance did not explode and has become increasingly dangerous with time and corrosion.