50,000 in Hanover prep for second biggest post-war bomb defusal
About one-tenth of Hanover’s population will be evacuated from their homes on Sunday as officials work to defuse multiple Second World War bombs - the second biggest operation in post-war German history.
Experts were able to confirm the existence of five unexploded Second World War bombs out of 13 possible locations within the Lower Saxon capital, the fire department said on Thursday. Seven care and elderly homes are among the buildings to be evacuated, along with a clinic, and a Continental tire plant.
The largest evacuation since the Second World War took place in Augsburg on Christmas Eve last year when 54,000 people had to leave their homes after a 3.8 tonne British-made bomb was found during construction work.
Evacuations will begin at 9am and the city says it expects all affected residents to be able to return home in the evening. Locals are also advised to take any necessary items, such as medication, along with them, and to turn off electrical and gas appliances before leaving.
The operation will also impact train travel around the area, including for those transferring in Hanover along their long-distance journeys. Many trains will not stop in the central train station after early afternoon, and instead there will be replacement stops in Wolfsburg, Lehrte, Wunstorf and the station at Hannover Messe/Laatzen.
Officials have warned passengers that they may have to make additional transfers, and that they therefore should expect long travel times.
Thousands of helpers from around the state, along with the bomb disposal experts, will be taking part in making sure the operation runs smoothly, with hundreds of ambulances and cots on hand. There will also be tens of thousands of portions of soup available.
The city has also planned numerous cultural and athletic activities for those affected by the evacuation to keep them busy, such as museum tours, children’s film viewings, and a gaming afternoon for seniors.
Hanover was often a target by Allied forces during the Second World War, with the most severe attack launched on October 9th 1943 where 261,000 bombs were dropped onto the city, killing 1,245 people and leaving 250,000 homeless.
And residents of Lower Saxony know how important it is to maintain a safety zone during a bomb the defusing: An accident during a bomb operation in Göttingen in 2010 killed three weapons experts, as well as injured two people seriously and another four slightly. Five bomb fragments also smashed into neighbouring buildings, the heaviest of which at seven kilos flew 700 metres into the roof of a house.
Unexploded Second World War bombs continue to be discovered throughout the country, even 70 years after the end of the war.