Just over a mile from where a stretch of the Berlin Wall once stood in Germany’s capital city, the neighborhood of Rummelsburg was evacuated earlier this week after construction workers uncovered a 550-pound American bomb. The bomb, with its fuse still intact, had sat dormant for more than 70 years since the Allies dropped it during World War II.
This one had failed to detonate, and now, decades later, its corroding fuse could set it off at any time. Every year, at least one or two such bombs explode in Germany without warning, according to the 2015 film The Bomb Hunters, which documents the work of the KMBD—the bomb squad for the state of Brandenburg.
First reported by the Associated Press, the story of this latest discovery was picked up by a handful of media outlets worldwide. But to Germans, such findings are so frequent in certain cities that it’s hardly shocking anymore. In fact, the KMBD estimates that more than 2,000 tons of unexploded bombs are uncovered each year, according to Smithsonian magazine.
Many are found in Oranienburg, a city roughly an hour outside Berlin. “They have it so well figured out that the city has a very specific routine [to find and defuse bombs], and it’s coordinated very well through their website,” says Berlin-based filmmaker Rick Minnich, who spent a year and a half filming The Bomb Hunters in Oranienburg. “People are just kind of like, ‘Oh, well, getting evacuated again.’ And when schools get evacuated, sometimes kids get upset that their school is just outside the evacuation area, because then they have to go to school.”