Munich WWII Bomb Detonation: 'The Fuse Was a Real Bastard'
German bomb disposal expert Andreas Heil, 53, talks to SPIEGEL about the difficult decision to detonate an unexploded 250-kilogram aerial bomb found in central Munich last week. The blast damaged surrounding buildings but was unavoidable because defusing the unstable bomb was too dangerous, he said.
SPIEGEL: Last week, you were asked to manage the disposal of a World War II bomb found in Munich's city center. Have you ever had a more dangerous call?
SPIEGEL: Wouldn't it have been safer to defuse the bomb rather than going for a controlled detonation?
Heil: The fuse was a real bastard, totally rusted in. Any manipulation of the bomb, such as touching it with a force of 100 grams, a slight knock with a hammer, could have led to disaster. We were all thinking about Göttingen, where three bomb disposal experts were killed during a defusing operation in 2010. There was only one possibility: to blow the thing up.
SPIEGEL: Critics say one could have cut through the fuse with a projected water disruptor.
SPIEGEL: Seventeen buildings were severely damaged by the detonation -- did that surprise you?
Heil: Even though this may sound cynical to people who sustained damage, it was the best possible outcome. We knew that the straw we used for absorption would burn and that roofs would catch fire, if it went upwards. But the fire department was perfectly prepared. One should erect a monument to the people of the Munich fire department and the technical emergency service. The city should give them a crate of beer every day for the rest of their lives.
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