3,000 WW2 bombs still under Berlin

City authorities believe there are still some 3,000 unexploded Second World War bombs buried in the earth under Berlin.

3,000 WW2 bombs still under Berlin
A KBD worker with a 500kg unexploded bomb found in Steglitz in June. Photo: DPA

Bombs, shells and other munitions totalling 54 tonnes were found and made safe in the city in 2014, BZ reported, adding to the 1.8 million explosive devices found since 1945.

Bomb disposal squads (Kampfmittelbeseitigungsdienst, KBD) are called out around 1,000 times each year in the German capital when unexploded weapons are found, usually during building work.

Large finds, such as the 250-kilo American bomb uncovered by builders in Potsdam in December, are becoming rarer – although when they do turn up, they cause mass disruption as thousands have to be evacuated from homes and offices.

Authorities had to evacuate 3,000 people from the area around a 500-kilo bomb found in Steglitz in June while it was defused.

And flights at Tegel airport were briefly disrupted in October when a 70-kilo bomb was found nearby.

Police say that most bombs left over from the Second World War pose little risk of exploding unless they are interfered with, although bombs with chemical fuses may be more dangerous.

And while the authorities are unable to say which parts of the city might be home to more leftover munitions, airports, train stations and lines and factories were the main targets.

The forests around Berlin, where German and Soviet forces fought fierce battles in the final months of the war, harbour a particularly large number of bombs and hand grenades.

In 2010 three members of bomb disposal team in Göttingen were killed, and another six people injured,  when the Second World War bomb they were working to defuse exploded – making them possibly some of the final victims of the 1939-45 war.

SEE ALSO: 10,000 evacuated after Potsdam bomb find

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Denmark’s German refugees remember forgotten WW2 chapter

Barbed wire and tunnelling beneath it to go and pick flowers outside his refugee camp in Denmark are what Jorg Baden remembers most clearly 75 years on from World War II.

Denmark's German refugees remember forgotten WW2 chapter
A picture taken in 1945 shows German refugees accommodated at the General Motors assembly plant in Sydhavnen, Copenhagen. Photo: AFP

Baden's experience — a largely forgotten chapter of history — was one shared by some 250,000 fellow Germans interned in neighbouring Denmark following the conflict.

Between the ages of five and eight, Baden — now a cheerful German pensioner — was a refugee in Denmark, after his family and tens of thousands of his compatriots fled Germany as the Red Army advanced towards Berlin.

From February 1945 Denmark, then occupied by the Nazis, was forced to take those refugees, the majority consisting of old people, women and children, as well as wounded soldiers.

Mostly spared the fighting, the Scandinavian nation was Berlin's favoured destination for exiles.

The lion's share of the refugees arrived by boat, some of which were torpedoed by the Allies, across the Baltic Sea. They initially ended up in makeshift camps around the country.

After the May 5th “liberation of Denmark by the Allies, the Danish resistance realised that there were about 250.000 German refugees all over Denmark,” accounting for five percent of the population, John Jensen, historian at Varde Museum, told AFP.

Fearing the establishment of a German minority with too much influence, the refugees were gathered up into new larger camps or re-purposed military camps.

Exhausted from the journey and plagued by various illnesses, many refugees died shortly after arriving.

Some never received medical assistance as the Danish Medical Association recommended that its members should refrain from intervening.


“The common thought was if Danish doctors helped a refugee they were indirectly helping the German war machine,” Sine Vinther, historian at Roskilde University, said.

Between 1945 and 1949, when the last refugees left the country, 17,000 died, with 13,000 of those in 1945 alone — 60 percent of whom were children under the age of five. 

According to Vinther that is more than the number of Danes killed during the occupation. 

But even after the end of the occupation, Danish doctors remained hesitant to offer help.

“They could not get rid of their enemy image of Germans… Danish doctors failed their oaths in this period of Danish history,” Vinther told AFP at the Vestre Kierkegaard cemetery in Copenhagen, where more than 5,000 German refugees were laid to rest.

Jorg Baden was one of the lucky ones to receive help. At five years old he came down with diphtheria, but was hospitalised and treated.

“It was a critical time for many children, but I made it through,” the former English and history teacher said.

He recalled his family's hasty escape from Warnemunde in north Germany and the perilous journey across the Baltic to Haderslev in Denmark.

At the end of September 1945, they were transferred the Oksbøl camp — which would come to house up to 37,000 people, becoming the de facto sixth largest town in Denmark.

“We were first accommodated in horse stables which was very primitive… we had very little privacy,” Baden said.

“But my father was asked to teach mathematics… because of that we were allowed to move to a stone house where we had a room for ourselves, running water and flushing toilets which was a great step forward,” Baden, who is now 80, explained.

That was a luxury at the camp which allowed the family to live a “quite unspectacular and normal” life.

The camps were set up on the fringes of Danish society with the authorities aiming to “de-Nazify” the refugees.


“The general idea was to re-educate them to a more democratic way of thinking,” Jensen noted.

According to Vinther, the “refugees were almost prisoners.” 

“Danes were not allowed to interact with German refugees, the German refugees were not allowed to learn Danish or to talk to Danes because they were not supposed to get the feeling that they were wanted,” she said.

However, leaving Denmark took longer than expected.

“The Germans wanted to go back but they weren't welcome in the areas they came from, so the Danes had to negotiate with the Allied powers to repatriate them,” Jensen explained.

Jorg Baden and his family left Denmark for his father's hometown of Duisburg, where he had found work with the British army, in September 1947.

READ ALSO: How Denmark was liberated at the end of WW2