This 1.8-Ton WW2 Bomb Could Have Destroyed a German City Today

Illustration for article titled This 1.8-Ton WW2 Bomb Could Have Destroyed a German City Today

45,000 people had to be evacuated after two extremely dangerous bombs were found in the Rhine River, 65 years after they were dropped by British and American planes.

The biggest was a British 1.8-ton bomb that had the potential to destroy the entire city center, according to the fire department of Koblenz, the German town were the devices were located. The bombs had remained unperturbed in the Rhine River for decades. This metal beast was found completely intact and ready to go when the water level dropped to an all-time low this year.

But the most dangerous was the American 275-pound high-explosive bomb. While the British shell was in good condition and its deactivation was relatively straightforward, the compact bomb was extremely difficult to deactivate. The impact had made it highly unstable.

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The bomb experts destroyed a third device too, but this one was only annoying: a fog generator dropped by Allied airplanes to make hard for anti-aircraft battery operators to hit bombers. [CNN]

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DISCUSSION

Thanks Jesus for printing this story in such an appropriate tone.

I'd just like to take a minute to highlight the levity of the situation.

As a result of (virtually) the entire country being peppered (with sometimes poorly engineered bombs) towards the end of WWII, this is a very serious problem. These things kill children and adults indiscriminately.

I'm a Floridian who has been living in Germany for the last 4 years. And I'm sad to say that this is not an unusual situation, although this may have been a very large specimen indeed. There are evacuations almost weekly (if not more often) in Germany due to exactly this. Often the evacs are a little bit excessive in size, in relation to the bombs, but that's only because nobody wants to take chances with really old explosives. Who could blame them? And we're not talking about just in city centers, but also the countryside, under buildings (which were destroyed in WWII, rebuilt, and then recently torn down...when it's not unusual to unearth this stuff), in parks. Unspent munitions are strewn across the country, and just waiting to be found.

I've been evacuated twice due to situations like this, and twice more adversely affected (autobahn and road closures). One of the times I was affected, there was a bomb about half this size found in one of the 'leaves' of a clover-style interchange between autobahns. It was found only about 6 inches below the grass as they were going to build a new overpass! Had one of the construction workers hit it with a backhoe, there would have been bad news that day for his family (it was found during the survey-stage, just before they broke ground).

I can't express what a tragedy this stuff is. My wife's uncle was killed at age 8 a few hundred yards from their family home as a result of a found hand grenade exploding in his hand. My father-in-law witnessed this and was so traumatized that he never spoke of it. My wife only just recently learned this (that she would have had an uncle) when her father passed away, and the family began to let old skeletons out of closets.

I'm not here to hate, or to preach, actually the comments seem to be pretty respectful and in good taste, so far. Normally, I'm one of the less serious commenters here. But today on this one, I'll hold my cynical tongue. Kids and grownups die as a result of this stuff. Not cool.

And I'm sure it's not just Germany, where horror stories like this happen. Anywhere a war has been fought in the last 80 years or so, must have similar stories.

Thanks again, Jesus for running the story.

We as Americans sometimes forget how much we have to be thankful for. I, personally, have learned to include "not growing up in a country strewn with unstable unspent explosives" on that list.