2015 – WWII bombs below the ground in Germany
It’s on the radio and TV on repeat. Yet another World War II bomb is suspected to be below the surface, waiting to be found…. Or even detonate. Are we still at war? No. Did somebody forget to clean that stuff up? Nope. Then what the heck is a WWII bomb doing in the ground? An explanation from an American point of view.
War emblems in the garden
Growing up in the some-what urban U.S. of A., it was one of my favorite past times searching for arrowheads and Indian feathers in our backyard or on the property. I used to collect every stone, to my parents demise, hoping that I would actually find a REAL arrowhead used by the local Indian tribe. What do the children do in Germany? Well… the German soil is full of surprises, but not arrowheads.
WWII bombs in Gundelfingen, near Freiburg
As the radio reports, over 3,000 residents in and around the city of Gundelfingen, (near Freiburg) need to evacuate their houses for the whole day on this Sunday, August 23rd, 2015. There are at least 4 Blindgänger (duds) as the Germans call it, which need to be removed. After bomb disposal services detected the bombs, which weigh up to hundreds of pounds and could be as large as or even larger than a human, the local authorities were contacted. And what now?
What happens with the bomb?
From what I know, the local government gives permission to excavate the Blindgänger. Thereafter, the bomb is either removed completely out of the ground after being defused or gets detonated right where it’s lying. According to experts, between 10-20% of the allied bombs dropped can be classified as duds. Furthermore, there are approximately 100,000 Blindgänger still to be discovered in German soil.
War, but not that close to home
The find of a WWII dud is nothing special in Germany. It has become a German norm to just evacuate cities so that duds can be excavated out of the ground. It can be assumed that a dud will almost always be found on or under large construction projects in Germany. But as an American, it is quite odd to think that not only could the old WWI duds be anywhere and everywhere, but that they could (hypothetically) go up, blow up, detonate and destroy… anywhere and everywhere. But lets’ cut the exaggeration, the blow-up thing is quite unlikely.
How did the Blindgänger (duds) even get there?
So it is fact that the duds are bombs dropped from the Allies in WWII. And there just may be a visible American flag on some of those. Or British, or Soviet or French (25 in total). The bombs dropped more than 65 years ago were usually self-detonating explosives or had long-time fuses. Long-time fused bombs were meant to detonate not on ground contact, but hours after contact. The duds that are being found are either defective, not lit correctly, sabotaged or had condition-dependent defective long-time fuses.
5,500 duds are defused each year
German authorities and the German folk are going to be busy removing leftovers from WWII for years to come. Of the 5,500 duds that are successfully defused or are removed, approximately 1-2 will explode uncontrolled and unexpectedly each year. So is anybody up for a Blindgänger hunt? I am sure somebody has a decent metal detector around here…