Largest ever evacuation set to take place in Frankfurt after WWII bomb found

Some 70,000 people will have to leave their homes in Frankfurt on Sunday, after an unexploded bomb from the Second World War was found in the city. It is set to be the biggest ever evacuation due to a bomb disposal.

Largest ever evacuation set to take place in Frankfurt after WWII bomb found
An unexploded bomb found in Hildesheim in July. Photo: DPA

The British-made bomb, which weighs 1.8 tonnes and is two metres in length, was found during building work on the Wismarer Strasse in the Westend district, according to the Frankfurter Rundschau. German media said the bomb was nicknamed “Wohnblockknacker” (blockbuster) during the war for its ability to wipe out whole streets or buildings.

A police spokesperson said on Wednesday that 70,000 people will likely have to leave their homes, meaning that almost one in ten of the city's 717,000 inhabitants will be affected.

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Officers are guarding the site and there “is currently no danger”.

Police said the bomb in question was a HC 4000, a so-called high capacity bomb used in air raids by British forces.

“Due to the large size of the bomb, extensive evacuation measures must be taken,” police said.

The Wismarer street where the ordnance was found is close to the city centre and just some 2.5 kilometres north of the main Zeil shopping area. Among the affected buildings are the German Federal Bank and two hospitals. 

Police expect Sunday’s evacuation to be completed by midday so that they can get on with disposing of the bomb. 

The biggest evacuation until now in the post-war era took place in Augsburg on Christmas Eve last year. On that occasion 54,000 people had to leave their homes after a 3.8 tonne British bomb was found in the southern city.
It is relatively common for unexploded bombs to be found during building work in urban areas in Germany.
In May 50,000 people had to leave their homes in Hanover during a bomb disposal operation. Meanwhile in July evacuations took place in Hildesheim and Stuttgart while explosives specialists disposed of Second World War bombs.


WWII bomb found in Frankfurt safely detonated after mass evacuation

A massive World War II bomb found in Germany's financial capital Frankfurt was safely detonated in the early hours of Thursday, the city's fire service said, allowing tens of thousands of evacuated residents to return to their homes.

WWII bomb found in Frankfurt safely detonated after mass evacuation
Experts stand on mountains of sand, which were put in place to soften the force of the explosion of the WWII bomb in Frankfurt's Nordend. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The 500-kilogram unexploded bomb was unearthed during construction work on Wednesday in the densely populated Nordend area of the city, a location firefighters said made it a “particular challenge” to remove.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper reported the ordnance had been discovered right next to a children’s playground at a depth of about two metres (6.5 feet).

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

Its report said the controlled blast, which happened just after midnight, “sounded like thunder rumbling” and left a hole three metres deep and ten metres wide.

Firefighters said that they had covered the bomb with 40 truckloads of sand before detonating it, in order to minimise damage to the surrounding buildings.

Around 25,000 people had been asked to evacuate the area, including the occupants of a nearby community hospital’s neonatal ward.

Among residents who took shelter at a skating rink was 29-year-old Tobias, carrying his pet cat in a cage.

He said he had heard the news over a police loudspeaker and been ordered to leave his home immediately, causing a “bit of stress”.

Barbara, 77, told AFP the news was “a bit of a shock, we don’t expect that”.

However, building works in Germany regularly unearth unexploded World War II ordnance, 76 years after the conflict’s end.

Seven bombs were defused in 2020 on land near Berlin where Tesla plans to build its first factory in Europe for electric cars.  

READ ALSO: WWII bomb in Frankfurt triggers 30m high water fountain

Other bombs were also discovered last year in Frankfurt, Cologne, and Dortmund.

In Frankfurt, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in 2017 led to the removal of 65,000 people, the biggest such evacuation in Europe since 1945.