World War II Bomb Closes Berlin Rail Station

World War Two, Berlin
Berlin commuters got an unwelcome reminder of their city’s wartime past today when a bomb from World War II was discovered near the city’s main railway station.

The Hauptbahnhof was closed for several hours as bomb disposal experts dealt with the device, the BBC reports. Flights to and from Tegel airport were diverted.

The device was a 220-pound Soviet bomb and was discovered at a building site a mile north of the train station. While this may seem to be too far away to cause concern to those using the station, German bomb disposal experts are extra careful, especially after three of their number were killed while attempting to defuse a wartime bomb in Gottingen in 2010.

The bomb has now been defused and taken away. All transport has resumed.

Berlin was hit hard in World War II. As you can see from this image taken by the British army shortly after the war, the city was pretty much leveled. Nearly half a million tons of ordnance was dumped on the city and an estimated one in eight bombs didn’t go off. While most explosive devices were cleaned up in the months after the war, they’re still being uncovered on a regular basis.

Germany isn’t the only country that has to worry about wartime ordnance. In 2001, workers found a World War II grenade near Gatwick Airport in England.

Last year the BBC published an interesting interview with a German bomb disposal expert.

[Photo courtesy No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit, Wilkes A (Sergeant)]

What I learned about the Prague-Berlin train

I just got back to Prague from Russia and went straight to Berlin. How is that for a grand tour of War War II history? Completely unintentional, mind you.

I took the train from Prague to Berlin yesterday. It’s a great way to travel between the two cities. The train follows the river Labe (Elbe] for much of the route and takes you through what Czechs call the “Czech Switzerland” area, a picturesque gorge area.

One thing to keep in mind if you want to take this train is that you should buy tickets at least three days in advance. I didn’t and it cost me twice as much. I paid roughly $150 for a roundtrip Prague-Berlin ticket. If you book in advance, you pay as little as $70, even less if you are a student or purchase a Czech rail pass. Schedules are here.

The train ride takes 4 and 1/2 hours and is clean and comfortable. They even have a few tables where you can plug in your laptop. It is a good idea to purchase an assigned seat for an extra $5 each way. I didn’t and was kicked out of my seat no less than three times. The train isn’t crowded on the Czech side of the trip, but once we crossed the border with Germany, literally the entire East German population over 60 years got on my train for some peculiar reason.

Arriving at the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof is pretty amazing, too. Finally, a train station that looks cool and smells good. Which, certainly, cannot be said about Prague’s main train station. What a dump that place is. They are, however, renovating it. Keep your fingers crossed.

More from Berlin later.