90-Year-Old Woman Brings Live World War II Grenade to Police

Police officers survey Frankfurt’s central railway station, in Germany. One police station in Germany got a scare when a senior citizen brought in what she thought was a wartime relic that turned out to be a live grenade. Getty Images

An elderly woman caused her local police station to be evacuated when she turned up packing a live grenade that her husband gave her, unaware it was still a live explosive.

The incident took place earlier this week in the western German city of Leverkusen's Opladen police station, where a senior citizen walked in to ask officers for help in disposing of what she thought was an old military relic. The 90-year-old woman held the grenade in her hand and told officials at the station her husband had brought it as a keepsake from the front decades ago, but after his death she no longer wanted to display it in her house.

"My husband brought the grenade back from the war in 1943," the woman, whose name was not given, told police during her visit on Wednesday morning according to a press release from the North Rhein Westphalia police department. "It has been sitting on a desk at home ever since."

Despite the woman's casual manner, police decided to handle the object, which looked like a Soviet-made frag grenade from the war, with caution and quickly discovered they were right to do so. The ordnance, although old, was unexploded, triggering an immediate alarm to all staff.

The station quickly called in a bomb disposal squad, evacuating the entire building, while officials halted traffic on several nearby roads. The operation to secure the object lasted over two hours, as the explosives team safely discharged the wartime explosive, shortly before noon.

The incident followed a similar example of a German citizen finding and driving unexploded ordnance from the war, knocking around in a cardboard box, to his nearest fire department station in Mönchengladbach. Firefighters reburied the uncovered bomb and called the relevant authorities, who secured it and issued a nationwide warning not to follow the man's example.

"In all cases where an explosive ordnance is found, utmost caution is required!" the statement from the local administration read at the time. "The Ordnance Disposal Service strongly recommends that if a suspicious item, which could be ordnance, is found, it must not be moved but left at the site and the authorities are immediately informed."

Discoveries of wartime explosives buried on private property or beneath public spaces are common in Germany and range in destructive power, from anti-personnel grenades to airborne bombs. The country's dedicated service receives around 1,000 calls a year about items suspected to be wartime ordnance, and authorities have made genuine finds of explosives in Berlin, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Hanover, Cologne and other populated areas.