A current view of the Kennedy Bridge in Bonn, Source: Sascha Engst via the City of Bonn

Drought is exposing World War II munitions on the banks of the Rhine

Drought is exposing World War II munitions on the banks of the Rhine

Authorities in the city of Bonn have issued a warning to citizens to avoid the unpaved areas in the drying riverbed

This week, Bonn city authorities announced that due to the heatwave and the drought in Germany, the water level of the Rhine has dropped significantly, which has exposed old World War II munitions and grenades lodged in the riverbed.  

The city has issued a warning to all residents, asking them to avoid walking the muddy and unpaved newly exposed part of the river. Additionally, according to an official statement, citizens should not collect, take or move any munitions they stumble upon.

Authorities point out that unexploded old munitions could be very unstable, especially grenades, and pose a very serious risk to both life and limb.

If people do stumble across a suspicious object, they should call the authorities, both the police and the fire department can help. People should also then clear the area while advising others to do the same.

Bonn in World War II

The city of Bonn was captured by the US First Division between 8 and 9 March 1945. The operation was conducted during the Battle of Remagen, fought between 7 and 25 March. Previously, the whole Rhine and Ruhr region was part of the German defence plan, called the Siegfried Line.  

The Siegfried Line stretched from the border with France to the Rhine river, which was intended as a natural barrier that could stop the Allied advance. Consequently, the Rhine river saw a lot of fighting and bombing, as the Germans tried to blow up every bridge crossing, and slow the advance to a standstill.

However, during the Battle of Remagen, a town to the South of Bonn, the Allies were able to capture the bridge intact and started crossing into the German heartland as they overcame the last natural barrier. After that, forces from both the south and north were able to perform an encircling manoeuvre onto the Ruhr valley, capturing some 317,000 German soldiers between the cities of Hamm, Dortmund, Essen and Duisburg.

The battle for the Ruhr Pocket, as it is known, lasted from 7 March to 21 April, when the German Marshal Walter Model committed suicide, instead of surrendering to the Allies. The war in Europe officially ended less than three weeks later, on 8 May.



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