Photo Gallery German Bomb Expert Warns of Deadly WWII Legacy

Germany remains contaminated with unexploded aerial bombs that are becoming increasingly unstable with age, warns one of the country's most experienced bomb defusers who has just retired after a perilous career spent tackling the deadly legacy of World War II.
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German bomb disposal expert Hans-Jürgen Weise, 65, with an array of defused World War II bombs and shells at a munitions detonation ground in Brandenburg. Weise retired last month after spending almost four decades disposing of munitions in Brandenburg, one of the most bomb-contaminated regions in Europe.

Foto: David Crossland
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Weise defused 394 large bombs in his career including 47 delay action bombs which tend to be the trickiest. He is shown holding a delay-action chemical detonator extracted from unexploded bombs to make them safe.

Foto: David Crossland
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A British World War II delay action detonator (L) and an American one (R). An estimated 20,000 delay-action bombs were dropped on the town of Oranienburg near Berlin during the war because it had a suspected atomic bomb research site, the Heinkel aircraft factory and a pharmaceutical plant.

Foto: David Crossland
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The devastated center of Dresden after the February 1945 attack on the city. The Allies dropped 1.9 million tonnes of bombs to destroy Germany's industry and crush public morale during the war. The raids killed an estimated 500,000 people.

Foto: SLUB Dresden / Abt. Deutsche Fotothek/Walter Hahn/ddp
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Unexploded bombs are getting increasingly unstable and are continuing to claim lives. In October 2006, a construction worker was killed when his bulldozer struck a bomb while he was cutting the tarmac of a motorway near the city of Aschaffenburg in southern Germany. Eyewitnesses said the explosion tossed the bulldozer through the air like a toy.

Foto: DDP
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In Brandenburg alone, a total of 10,733 tonnes of munitions were disposed of between 1991 and 2007 at a cost of €259 million. At the Brandenburg detonation ground, munitions are either exploded or have their explosives removed and are sold as scrap metal.

Foto: David Crossland
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Various types of recovered weapons on display for training purposes at the Brandenburg detonation ground. In the whole of Germany, more than 2,000 tonnes of American and British aerial bombs and all sorts of munitions ranging from German hand grenades and tank mines to Russian artillery shells are recovered each year.

Foto: David Crossland
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500-kilo trophy: Weise with an American delay-action bomb he defused in 2007 in Oranienburg. Defusing bombs became second nature to him over the years but Weise says: "I know I was lucky many times."

Foto: David Crossland