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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

January 10, 2009

Is a dud better than live bomb?

[with comments]     Filed under Life in Europe

Thousands of bombs were dropped on Germany during World War II. Some of them did not explode. Who pays for removal if you find one in your back yard? You won’t believe this one!

Hundreds of “duds” have been found in Germany over the years. Every couple of months or so the news media report on a new find, with the accompanying evacuation of people near the bomb site until the bomb is defused or exploded. Last Sunday two unexploded World War II bombs were removed from a residential area in Osnabrück, a city in the western part of the northern state of Niedersachsen.

One of the bombs turned out to be a total dud. There was no longer any explosive material left in the bomb. So the city paid the cost for removing the bomb, including the work to unearth it. However, another bomb found under the wing of a house was still "live ammunition" and had to be defused. The house owners had to remove part of the house so the explosive technicians could unearth the bomb and defuse it. The cost of the removal and restoring the house to its original condition is estimated to be about 50,000 €. Guess who pays? The home owners! Federal states in Germany are allowed to make their own laws on bomb removal. Niedersachsen’s law says that if the bomb is real and has to be defused, the land owner pays for making the bomb accessible to bomb technicians. If the bomb turns out to be a total dud, though, the home owner does not have to pay. The reasoning is that the home owner in the first case has dangerous material on his property that has to be removed. However, he did not put it there – the British did. (The bomb was determined to be British, dropped by the Royal Air Force.) In this case it would have been better for the home owner if the bomb had gone off. His insurance would have paid for everything in that case. Strange law and strange sense of responsibility for World War II bombs.

Comment from Alexander Thomson:

From my point of view, when it comes to having a bomb under part of my house, a dud is ALWAYS better than a live bomb.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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