More than twelve hours after a World War II bomb was found in Friedrichshain, specialists from the Berlin police successfully defused the dud on Friday night. The two detonators were removed and blown up at the site. At 12:20 a.m. all lockdowns were lifted. 12,000 Berliners were allowed back into their apartments. Traffic on the railway lines around Ostkreuz station could start again.
The 500-kilogram World War II bomb was found around 11:45 a.m. on Thursday at a construction site on the corner of Persiusstrasse and Bödickerstrasse. The area has been cordoned off extensively. In the evening, train traffic at Ostkreuz and shipping traffic on the Spree were interrupted. At 8:40 p.m., a police spokeswoman said: “The defusing begins now.”
The police firecrackers would probably need two and a half to three hours for this, first the bomb would be dug up and examined. In the end it took a little longer.
The evacuation of the 500-meter restricted area around the site had previously been completed quickly. Police officers had gone from house to house, and loudspeaker vans were also on the streets. The police said that anyone who does not know where to stay can use the Mercedes-Benz Arena as a hostel. An isolated area will also be set up there for corona-positive people. Around 80 stranded people were looked after by the Red Cross in the arena in the evening.
According to the spokeswoman, 250 police forces were on site – supported by the Berlin fire brigade, which brought people to safety who are not so good on their feet. Recently, there have been a whole series of seated and recumbent transports of old and disabled people, the police spokeswoman reported. A school and three day-care centers located directly at the site where the bomb was found were quickly evacuated.
The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district office set up a crisis hotline for questions about the evacuation on 01715587600.
Traffic in and around Friedrichshain was also affected. According to the traffic information center, Stralauer Allee was affected in both directions between Modersohnstrasse and Elsenbrücke – as well as Elsenstrasse, Alt-Stralau, Markgrafendamm, Hauptstrasse, Kynaststrasse, Corinthstrasse, Bossestrasse and Rochwowstrasse.
Ostkreuz station was also in the restricted area, an important transfer station where several S-Bahn lines intersect – Berlin’s west-east connection in the direction of Alexanderplatz as well as the Ringbahn in the north-south direction. The federal police had already started to evacuate the station for security reasons at noon, but stopped it a little later because trains were initially allowed to stop again. Shortly after 4 p.m., the federal police cleared the station after all.
Around the same time, the S-Bahn announced that lines S3, S41, S42, S5, S7 and S8 would no longer stop at Ostkreuz station due to the police operation. Line S75 only operated between Wartenberg and Lichtenberg. Line S85 did not run.
“Rail and ship traffic should initially be largely maintained and only interrupted when the defusing begins,” the police wrote on Twitter. Regional and long-distance traffic has been diverted since midday. From 8.30 p.m., however, all rail traffic was stopped at Ostkreuz.
Bus services were also affected. As the BVG announced, line M43 did not serve the section between S-Bahn station Treptower Park and Alt-Stralau, on line 347 the section between Osthafen and Alt-Stralau was omitted, line 194 was interrupted between S Treptower Park and S Rummelsburg . There were delays on lines 165, 240 and 265 due to traffic jams on the roads as a result of the closures.
The dud was an American explosive bomb, as police fireworker Thomas Grabow reported to the Tagesspiegel. You have a mechanical head detonator, there was also another mechanical bottom detonator. In order to get to this, however, the bomb first had to be completely uncovered with an excavator.
After finding the bomb from the Second World War at noon, the police first checked whether the bomb could be transported or whether it had to be detonated at the site. After examining the bomb, the specialists decided that two detonating heads should first be mechanically removed at the construction site using a high-pressure water cutting system. It can be operated remotely, as the fireworker explained.
The detonators were blown up at the site. “This is the sensitive, dangerous part, so the detonators cannot be transported,” Grabow said before the defusing began. “If it’s quiet in Berlin at night, you’ll probably hear a bang, but nothing more.”
The bomb was then taken to the police detonation site in Grunewald. The blast site, which was partially destroyed in the major fire a few weeks ago, can “partially be used without risk,” said a police spokeswoman. But the affected residents had to be patient when it came to defusing it, that was clear. Firecracker Grabow’s prognosis came true: “It will definitely last well into the night.”