Thousands of WWII bombs uncovered in Köthen

More than 2,100 bombs from World War II have been found on the outskirts of Köthen during a routine building site review, police in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt reported on Wednesday.

Thousands of WWII bombs uncovered in Köthen
A few of the 2,100 bombs found on Wednesday in Köthen. Photo: DPA

The find is the biggest in Germany this year, the state’s military ordnance disposal service said. The German bombs, ranging is size from one to 250 kilogrammes, appear to have been buried on the edge of an airfield at the end of the Second World War along with several pipes to launch rocket propelled grenade and bits of artillery.

The ordnance disposal team was able to transport the bombs to their facilities where the larger pieces will be detonated on Wednesday afternoon.

More than 60 years after the end of World War II, weapons recovery remains an important task for police and private companies 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.

Another major ordnance find cropped up on the Baltic Sea coast last month when municipal workers spotted a four-metre long (12-foot) piece of a World War II era torpedo near the Timmendorf beach.

Entire neighbourhoods are frequently evacuated for bomb removal, and most are defused without incident. Construction and road workers are trained to call emergency services the moment they suspect they’ve found unexploded ordnance, but accidents still occasionally happen.

People are periodically killed when they stumble upon old war explosives around the country. 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.