Grunewald blast site

Article

August 19, 2022

The Grunewald explosive site (also: Sprengplatz Jagen 65) is an approximately 200 m × 200 m area in the Berlin city forest Grunewald, Nikolassee district of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district. Since 1950, the site has been used for the interim and final storage of found ammunition and for rendering it harmless, for example by means of controlled demolition by the Berlin police's explosive ordnance disposal service.

Usage

The blast site was created in 1950 to be able to detonate World War I ammunition found during the reconstruction of Berlin - especially from the Allied air raids on the city. This property in Jagen 65 was a facility used by the US Berlin Brigade for military purposes (see: List of allied facilities). Today around six to eight large blasts and around 70 smaller blasts are carried out each year. The latter serve to render duds harmless or are used for training. The operation of the blasting site was estimated at around one million euros in the 2004 state budget, and around half a million euros was given for 2022. The site is secured with high fences, metal gates, barbed wire and cameras. A fire break of several meters was created around the site to prevent fires from spreading to the surrounding Grunewald.

Location

The blast site is located in Grunewald, south-west of the Hüttenweg motorway junction, around 600 meters as the crow flies from the A 115 (AVUS). In the case of major blasts, the highway is closed.

Incidents

Fatal Accident

The Berlin police firecracker Werner Stephan had a fatal accident on August 17, 1957 while dismantling a Soviet grenade on the detonation site. His helper Helmut Kleiber and the driver Rudi Klatt were seriously injured.

Major Fire

According to police findings, an unplanned explosion occurred at the blast site in the early morning hours of August 4, 2022, which in turn triggered further explosions. The surrounding forest caught fire, the fire spread to a major fire as a result of the drought that lasted for weeks. The S-Bahn traffic had to be interrupted, the regional and long-distance railway traffic diverted and the AVUS closed to traffic on both sides. On the afternoon of August 6th, the tracks of the S-Bahn and the regional and long-distance traffic were released again, whereas the AVUS remained closed for the time being and was only released on the evening of August 10th, 2022 - the forest area remains closed. After the extinguishing work was completed at noon on August 12, the closures were lifted. The ammunition workhouse, the storage building for fireworks and explosives and the evidence storage facility of the Berlin police with all evidence were destroyed by the fire. The determination of the cause of the fire did not yield any results by August 16, 2022 and is being continued by the Berlin State Criminal Police Office and the Berlin Police.

Future

The debate, which has been going on for decades, as to whether the location for the blasting site in Grunewald - a local recreation area - and in the immediate vicinity of heavily used traffic routes such as the Wetzlarer Bahn and the AVUS can still be approved, was nevertheless brought to the attention of an even larger public by the fire . The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Franziska Giffey, spoke out in favor of considering moving the blast site to the neighboring state of Brandenburg. Barbara Slowik, the Berlin police chief, advocated avoiding long transports of the highly explosive ordnance to the Berlin area and advocated continued use of the blast site. Michael Stübgen, Brandenburg's Minister of the Interior, was fundamentally open to cooperation; the state of Brandenburg has a blast site in the Kummersdo