|While the Western media has concentrated its creative attention on the London Blitz, it is seldom
pointed out that more bombs were dropped on Berlin alone than were dropped on all of Britain
during the entire war! Sixty years after the war, Germany is still destroying the thousands of tons of
unexploded bombs, shells, mines and grenades out of the millions of tons of often toxic explosives
the Allies deposited on them. Weapons experts estimate that it could take up to 150 years before
such clearance work ends. Experts estimate 5 percent of the 440,000 Allied bombs dropped on Berlin
failed to explode due to faulty fuses, poor assembly, bad angle of impact and other reasons.
Millions of unexploded bombs and artillery shells have been cleared and defused since World War II
and thousands more remain buried all over Germany on land, in rivers and streams in the sea,
sometimes leaking their putrifying contents for decades, heavy metal (Copper, Zinc etc) contamin-
ation from the bomb's casing, organic aromatics (Toluene, Nitrosamines, etc) contamination from the
degredation of the explosive charge and heavy metal (Lead, Mercury) contamination from the de-
gredation of the detonator charge.
Immediately and for some time after the war ended, people and pets regularly were killed or injured
by unexploded bombs and ammunition. Small children, people trying to clear rubble and even
business or home owners attempting to put their lives back together would be killed without warning.
North of Berlin, especially around Oranienburg, where the U.S. Army Air Force dropped 23,675
bombs in seven raids from March 6 to April 20, 1945, some 700 square miles are contaminated. One
year alone resulted in the recovery of 700,000 pieces of dud ammo, 15,000 bombs of all sizes, 1,500
rockets, 2,400 land mines, and 4,300 hand grenades. In Berlin over 2,000 bombs, each with 150 to
2,000 pounds of explosives, have been found since 1945. A deadly bomb accident on a building site
in Berlin in 1994 killed three workers and injured eight when an aerial bomb in an excavation
detonated. In Brandenburg since 1991, almost 10,000 tons of dangerous bombs were removed.
A great danger are bombs which had delayed-action fuses. 10 to 20 percent failed to detonate and
are still in the ground. Diabolically set to detonate after the "all clear" for an air raid had been
sounded and people had come out of their shelters, their fuses contained glass vials of acetone,
supposed to break on impact. Many didn't because of some slight failure in sequencing. Now they
could go off with a slight touch. Duds, and there are thousands of them, with impact fuses are also
becoming more dangerous with time. Their firing mechanisms contain lead acid and copper that, with
aging, turns into copper acid, a material so volatile that it will react and cause an explosion if you just
touch it with a human hair. Tragic accidents are common.
About 3,000 people in Germany work on the search teams today. An average of 20,000 tons of
potentially lethal war materials are found each year and the clean up cost is outrageous.
Like most German cities, there has been a terrible UXB problem in Koblenz even unto the present
day. In May, 1999, while doing excavation work for a new building at the University, the largest
bomb was uncovered, a 1945 British 1850 kg. heavy aerial bomb with three impact fuses which
could have detonated at any time. It was the fourth bomb of this magnitude found in the city. A
national crisis staff was employed, evacuations of houses was mandated, roads were blocked, the
water navigation channels cleared, the railroad line rerouted and even the air space above was
cleared. 15,000 people, three hospitals and five old people's homes had to evacuate. More than 1,000
fire-brigades, police and relief organizations from the whole country supervised the procedure. 500
ambulances and supplying vehicles stood by. Five workers from the bomb squad took about a half
hour to make the two tons of heavy bombs from the Second World War harmless.
In December, 2011, another massive British bomb triggered the evacuation of about half of the
107,000 residents of Koblenz before it was successfully defused. Among those ordered to evacuate
were seven nursing homes, two hospitals and a prison with some 200 inmates. It was one of
Germany’s biggest bomb-related evacuations since the war ended with some 2,500 police officers,
firefighters and paramedics on duty across the city to secure the operation.
Experts successfully defused both the British 1.8 ton bomb and a 275-pound U.S. bomb that had
been discovered around the same time after the Rhine river’s water level fell significantly due to a
prolonged lack of rain. As this was playing out, 200 people also had to be evacuated from Nurnberg
as experts there defused another 155 pound bomb left from the war. 28 smaller war bombs have
been found in Koblenz since 1999.
400 to 600 bombs are discovered each year in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone. In the year
2003, the weapon removal services in North Rhine-Westphalia found 1,156 bombs to defuse and
clear. In 2004, there were 1,167, among them were 229 (2003: 265) with a weight of over 50 kg and
very explosive. In 41 cases, they were so-called "hole bombs." These are bombs which already
defused during the war or immediately after, but were not emptied and removed. 16 had to be blown
up. Altogether 29,500 weapons were eliminated, among them 25,883 shells and hand grenades, 69
mines and 2,381 other explosives. In 2005, over 29,500 devices, among them 24,832 shells and
1,167 bombs with a total weight of over 216 tons were disposed of. In 2005 near Cologne, 63
bombs, 2,232 explosives and 73 kilograms of ammunition parts were removed. There were still 900
suspicious locations remaining to be examined for bombs in the Westphalia area by 2006
In Aschaffenburg, four road construction workers and a passing driver suffered heavy shocks as a
road machine detonated a bomb from the Second World War that lay hidden in the soil. The
machine driver died and flying rubble damaged nearby cars. The Bavarian weapon removal service
found 22 tons of war ammunition, among them 33 explosive bombs in that same year. In Saxony,
experts found five bombs with one over ten kilograms as well as 483 smaller ones and 160 mines.
In Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania, 123 tons of weapons and weapon parts were found in 2005,
and the defusing crews must disengage approximately 1,500 to 1,700 times: about 130 bombs and
approximately 100 tons of ammunition in the average year.
The Cold War left behind its nasty reminders as well: 1.3 million highly contaminated acres in East
Germany used by the Communist armies as troop training areas are filled with undetonated munitions
from anti-tank rockets to bullets. These combined with old World War Two bombs cause endless
problems Often found by construction crews in the former East Germany, which has experienced
much construction since reunification, most of the old bombs are still live and potentially explosive.
In October of 2006, for example, 22,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Hanover when
three World War II bombs were discovered and several people were injured and a highway worker
was killed and when an old UXB exploded as he cut through pavement during highway work. Such
events are commonplace.
Nor is Austria immune to the continued ravages of war. Around 28 tons of unexploded missiles from
World War Two were found and defused in Austria in 2009 alone. The death and destruction is a gift
that keeps on giving. About 50 bombs from the first and second world wars are defused each year in
Austria. For example, Salzburg's railway lines were a major target for allied bombers during the war,
and many bombs remain.
From November 1944 to April 1945, beautiful Tirol was also heavily bombed in missions such as
the so-called "Battle of the Brenner" which was carried out to stop passage of war supplies from
Germany which were for the most part routed via the rail line through the Brenner pass. Over 6,849
Allied sorties were flown over targets from Verona to the Brenner Pass with 10,267 tons of bombs
dropped on Tirol cities and towns such as ancient Trent (now "Trento" and part of Italy).
Trent is unique in that, thanks to the historic bomb mapping missions carried out by the US in the
area, it is known for an absolute fact that 32,019 of the high explosive Allied bombs (801 with long
delay fuses) aimed to attack 271 targets are still missing and unaccounted for and lying in wait to
maim and kill people.
Thousands of the Allied aerial reconnaissance photos which were taken after each Allied air raid on
German towns during the war became available in 1985, and by studying them carefully and
comparing them with street maps, experts can often find old UXBs. However, such assistance was
not available in the former communist East until reunification. It is also an extremely costly process
because the U.S. and British defense departments sold most of the pictures to commercial archives
who now use a form of extortion marketing them to the German ordnance disposal services, often
demanding over fifty dollars per photo.