The 60-year-old bombs were found some five metres underground in an empty lot, ordnance disposal experts from the state of Lower Saxony reported. They deemed the transport of two of the four bombs too dangerous and decided to detonate them on site.
The neighbourhood, occupied by British soldiers until just a few months ago, suffered a few broken windows and flying shingles as the bombs left deep craters on the snowy ground. Bomb clean up experts covered the bombs with soil and straw bales to damp the blasts, and bits of straw hung from trees when they were finished.
Most of the nearby buildings were empty now that the British soldiers no longer reside there, city spokesperson Sven Jürgensen said, but more than 15,000 people in homes, apartments and hospitals were evacuated by some 1,000 rescue workers.
The clean up was the biggest of its kind in the city, which was heavily bombed during the Second World War.
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.