Thousands evacuated as World War II bomb discovered in Potsdam

A 250kg unexploded world war II bomb which forced the evacuation of more than 3,000 people in the eastern German city of Potsdam has been successfully defused.

Thousands evacuated as World War II bomb discovered in Potsdam
A 250kg bomb defused in Potsdam on September 13th

A bomb disposal team was dispatched to the state capital of Brandenburg on Wednesday in a bid to safely defuse the ordnance.

The fire brigade announced shortly before noon on Twitter that the detonator would have to be blown up in a controlled explosion in order to remove it, and a bang would be heard.

In the morning, the affected area had been evacuated, with about 3,000 residents being asked to leave their homes, reports rbb. Several ministries and the State Chancellery remained closed, and nursing homes were also evacuated.

The area affected in Potsdam.

The unexploded bomb from the Second World War, reportedly an American one, had been discovered during scheduled exploratory work on the site of a former tram depot in n the same place as two previous air bombs.

From 8:30am, several roads around the discovery site in Heinrich-Mann-Allee near the main railway station were closed.

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

Bomb disposal task forces were at the scene together with police and other emergency workers. Drivers were diverted around the Heinrich-Mann-Allee and Friedrich-Engels-Straße areas.

Local paper the Märkische Allgemeine reported that it was the 192nd unexploded bomb to be discovered in the Potsdam area.

Shortly after noon the Fire Service tweeted to say the roadblocks were being removed after the successful removal.

More than 70 years after the end of World War II, unexploded ordnance remains scattered around Germany, a legacy of the intense Allied bombing campaign against Nazi Germany.

In April, thousands of people had to be cleared from an area around Berlin's Hauptbahnhof main station after a British bomb was discovered on a building site. There was severe disruption to locals at the time.

The latest incident caused major disruption on the transport network, with several tram and bus lines affected. There were no trains between Potsdam Hauptbahnhof and Babelsberg S-Bahn station during the defusing period.

Tram lines 91, 92, 93, 96 and 98 from Potsdam Hauptbahnhof southbound as well as bus lines 690, X1, 601, 611, 619 and 750 have also been disrupted, according to local media reports. 

Road closures around the bomb site were also put in place. Although the bomb has been defused, it’s expected that the disruption to transport will continue as things get back on track.

It is the third time that bombs have had to be defused in Potsdam in the last three months. On August 3rd an exploded device caused major disruption and road closures were in place until 3pm. On September 13th another bomb was defused by experts.

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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.