Grunewald fire: Why were bombs dumped in the middle of Berlin?

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Germany

Explosions, burning forest: “The most dangerous operation since the world war” – why were bombs disposed of in Berlin?

The fire brigade has the forest fire under control in the middle of Berlin. But why were bombs and ammunition dumped in the German capital?

“Why on earth in the middle of the capital?” The Grunewald is on fire in Berlin.

Image: Keystone

The rain will come shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday morning. As an experiment, he sprays the asphalt, so delicately, as if the general caution all around had infected him. Here, in the southwest of Berlin, they long for carelessness. And have the opposite. worries en masse. A fire has been blazing here like no other for a good day now.

After 3 a.m. on Thursday morning, rockets that no one had fired began to shoot into the sky over Berlin. Bombs detonated, which nobody ignited – their cracking tore the people who live in Grunewald out of their sleep.

Bombs, ammunition, confiscated fireworks

The fire brigade was quickly alerted and on site, the reports of uncontrolled explosions were confirmed. It’s already burning in Grunewald, Berlin’s green lungs between Wannsee and Schlachtensee, just off its most famous autobahn, the Avus, which originally served as a racetrack and connects Berlin with Potsdam. It is quickly closed, as are the parallel railway lines. This means that the most important routes from the west to the German capital are closed.

That, it is said quickly, is also necessary. The forest has long been on fire. And the center of the fire is the so-called explosive site of the Berlin police. Everything that needs to be detonated under controlled conditions is stored here: bombs and other munitions from the Second World War, which are often found during construction work, as well as confiscated fireworks. Up to 50 tons, they say. But now there is no more talk of control.

Sprengplatz is heritage from the division of the city

Until Friday morning, the fire brigade, police and armed forces can do no more than keep the fire under control – i.e. within a restricted area with a radius of one kilometer. Firefighting robots arrived overnight; Berlin has asked for support across the country. And politicians, especially Berlin’s mayor Franziska Giffey, are asked why on earth explosive material is being stored in the middle of the German capital in the middle of the forest – in these climatic times, with this drought?

The answer is simple. When the square was chosen in 1950, Berlin was a divided city. And for West Berlin there was nothing but the Grunewald to store and defuse all the WWII duds salvaged from the ground and lakes and rivers. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is said that no agreement could be reached with Brandenburg, which surrounded the entire capital, on blasting there. There, too, the forests – which have regularly caught fire in recent summers – are bursting with ammunition.

In any case, the people of Berlin and Brandenburg have a hard time with each other. They certainly don’t want to make two countries into one – as their governments agreed in 1995. For Berliners, Brandenburg is a chic destination, but of course far too provincial.

Back to the explosive legacy in Grunewald: according to the fire department, the operation is the “most dangerous since the war”. The flames are under control as of Friday afternoon; although the morning rain has remained a trickle. However, the routes to Berlin remain closed. Because the risk of explosion is not banned.

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