WWII-era bomb detonated in downtown Munich

Another unexploded Allied bomb from World War II was discovered in Germany on Monday, but unlike some of the earlier examples which were removed and defused without difficulty, this one was destined to play a more dramatic role.

The 550-pound US bomb was found during construction work at the site of the late, lamented Schwabinger 7, a post-war dive bar known as the “darkest bar in the world” which was demolished last year to howls of protest from people who wished to preserve its grungy charm as characteristic of an increasingly bygone Munich, replaced by gentrified soullessness. Fortunately for last year’s demolition crew, the bomb was buried three feet deep, so they never encountered it. The workers digging the foundations of the new office building going up at the site, on the other hand, found it.

Authorities attempted to defuse the bomb on the spot but had trouble with the chemical delay-action detonator, a mechanism that was used in only 10% of bombs, but because it had a bad habit of not working appears in a disproportionate number of unexploded bombs. Finally they gave up trying to defuse it and decided to explode it inside. Even a controlled explosion is dangerous in the densely populated center of Munich, so 2,500 people in the area around the bomb were evacuated and cars removed. Streets were blocked off, three subway stations closed and people further out were asked not to leave their homes.

Bales of hay and thousands of sandbags were stacked around the bomb to help absorb the explosive shock, and then, just before 10:00 PM on Tuesday night, this happened:


The strength of the explosion shattered surrounding windows. Some of the hay drifted up to rooftops and set them on fire. Firefighters were on alert and were able to put them out promptly with only minor damage. No people were injured.

Experts say that the undiscovered bombs in Germany become more dangerous with each passing year. Last year, a former bomb disposal chief told SPIEGEL ONLINE that “unexploded bombs are becoming more dangerous by the day through material fatigue as a result of ageing and through erosion of safety elements in the trigger mechanisms.”

Bombs are found so often in Germany — thousands a year, an average of 15 a day — that most of the time the removals don’t even make the news. Only the really big ones do, or the rare ones that put on a sound and light show like the above.

Germany isn’t the only country affected. Also on Tuesday, a massive 1.5-ton German mortar bomb from the 1944 bombardment of Warsaw was found by construction workers underground in the Polish capital. Three thousand people were evacuated from the area, and the bomb was defused and removed without incident. On Wednesday a section of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport was closed after a suspected Allied bomb from World War II was found near the main terminal.

12 thoughts on “WWII-era bomb detonated in downtown Munich

  1. Regardless of the merits of any particular conflict, the world will be retrieving–for centuries to come–war materiel deposited all over the globe by the United States. Perhaps we will be remembered for this feat much as the Romans are remembered for their astonishing engineering accomplishments.

  2. Unexploded ordnance (explosive devices) are from all countries involved in conflict, i.e. German, British, Russian, Japanese, etc. In the U.S., unexploded canon balls from the Civil War (often very unstable) are found and dealt with by EOD, i.e. in Virginia. To place the problem / blame on one nation is unrealistic to say the least. Having lived in other countries, I saw some of that ordnance from all sides of old and more recent conflict and I never, never saw it all marked with our ID. BTW, Romans are remembered for more than feats of engineering. The Roman legions were “war machines.”

  3. Keep in mind that this was only a single one of the smaller kind, moreover, imagine what a mass bombardment must have felt like.

    You will possibly find shells in almost every country. However, some of them seem to be remarkably nastier than others (e.g. coroded WWI nerve gas shells).

    Gentrification on the other hand goes hand in hand with building and digging activities.

    Does it make a difference, therefore, if money or mines desert your habitats ? Have you ever heard of Yuppie-detecting rodents ?


  4. Yeah, I have to drive out of my way to avoid those civil war cannon balls in my neighborhood here in VA–not to mention all of the ordinance left behind in our area by the Vietnamese, Canadians, Mongolians, Angolans, Native Americans… blah, blah, blah. It’s a legacy of the United States; deal with it. Pretending that our history is justifiable just because other countries have left behind their war debris is naive. Using the “ID” argument is silly.

  5. There’s a great photostream on Flirk from Island-Life of the UXO in the Pacific region left from WWII, both Japanese and American. Interesting pix of the shells and bombs that, while corroded to a nearly unrecognizable state, are still highly explosive.

  6. Mr. Murphy, I can not but somehow suspect that you are an Alan Colmes fan, but I could be wrong. You made a point of stating, “the world will be retrieving–for centuries to come–war materiel deposited all over the globe by the United States.” You did not say that the many countries involved in armed conflict, say since WWI, have left deposits of unexploded ordnance globally. You narrowly selected the United States” alone as if we were the only ones to do so. As to the emotional faulty logic argument rant, “blah, blah, blah,” regarding the hazards of Civil War ordnance, North and South, found in various places in Virginia, there were incidents of explosion when I lived in the state. Doing a quick search, I saw newspaper articles about such ordnance being found in stories as recent as 2008. Some of these items are still explosive as well as being chemically unstable. One could theoretically be just under the surface of the ground and the pressure of a person or vehicle could cause an explosion. I am not even saying that it happens a lot anymore, but it still happens. Better to know about it before one starts digging after their metal detector buzzes. As to the assertions by you, not me, “Pretending that our history is justifiable just because other countries have left behind their war debris is naive. Using the “ID” argument is silly.” No comments were made about just or unjust wars or who did what. Conflicts happen and not always for the best of reasons. Consequently, we live with that reality and hopefully do our best to remedy issues and do better when we can. As to the “ID” issue, all it did was point out that in places, i.e. European subcontinent, you will find unexploded ordnance from many nations dating back to prior to WWI. Residuals from the use of chemical weapons by *others* during WWI have caused old battle fields to be closed on hot summer days to tourists such as in France in the not too distant past (“mustard gas” — not very biodegradable and would leach out of the soil and pose a great threat).

    Hello “Android” — yes, despite age and decomposition, ordnance explosive chemicals can be very unstable and explosive. Last year, when rivers were low in places such as in Germany, there were things such as “block busters” (English ones as well as US) found intact that had to be either defused or exploded and they had been submerged for approx. 6 decades.

    I do not glorify war but “there will be wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 23:6) always. To some of us, has fallen the task, now or in the past, to follow lawful orders and to defend our nation and others from those who would cause harm and deny us freedom. I do not think that we have always done the best job, but we certainly have not always tried to do the worst job either. We but pray that we do right in the defense of family and neighbors.

  7. Metoo, citing scriptures doesn’t make your logic any sounder. Reporting isolated exceptions doesn’t strengthen your agruments either. Assuming things about a person’s associations only shows your own bias and prejudice.

    Using coded language like “to some of us” and “lawful orders” may be lost on some, but not me. You, sir, are not worthy enough to invoke such language unless you know who you are talking to–so stand down buster.

  8. Murphy, I don’t care who you are but I am not going to waste time on your diatribes. I will let my comments stand as they are. Nothing was directed at you if you will re-read rather than take offense when none was given. If any find what I have said profitable, fine, if not that is fine too. Take care of yourself, buster. I will not be following you.

  9. :skull:
    Mr. Murphy it would appear that either your long style bow tie or your
    underwear are way too tight. I suggest you remedy this condition before
    it becomes terminal. tata

  10. Im one of those “future interested readers.”

    It is interesting to note that Mr. Murphy in VA made the comment about how the U.S. has left ordinances around the globe, with no mentiojn of any other nation.

    metoo pointed out that we aren’t the only ones to have done so.

    Mr. Murphy comes back with an illogical argument that doesnt follow what metoo said: ”

    “Pretending that our history is justifiable just because other countries have left behind their war debris is naive.”

    metoo never justified anything about anything. He just simply stated that the US was not the only nation to leave behond dangerous ordnance for future generations to deal with. That’s it.

    Then Mr. Murphy hypocritically stated:

    ” Assuming things about a person’s associations only shows your own bias and prejudice.”

    Projection much? That very literally described exactly what Mr. Murphy was doing. Not metoo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.