Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Great Synagogue in Plzen, Czech Republic

I walked around in the 2nd largest synagogue in Europe today in Plzen, CZ Rep.  There are fewer than 100 Jews in that town now.  Only 200 of the thousands who built the synagogue returned after the holocaust.

 I got in the car and, while Randy drove, I checked my email and the news.  And I read that protesters in St Louis (against the recent exoneration of a police officer who was recorded saying he was going to kill a black man) were surrounded by hundreds of police and tear gassed.  They happened to be near a synagogue and the rabbi there opened the doors and sheltered the protesters.  Police supporters tweeted the hashtag "#GasTheSynagogue." Horrible images from Nazi years were posted and shared.  Twitter did not stop this.

Have we no memory? How is this happening again?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

All Clear : Another calm day in paradise

Frankfurt WW2 bomb defused after mass evacuation

Bomb disposal experts with the huge bomb (03 September 2017)Image copyrightAFP
Image captionBomb disposal experts from Germany's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Division sat next to the defused device on Sunday
Bomb disposal experts in Frankfurt have successfully defused a massive unexploded bomb from World War Two, officials have announced.
The news was greeted with spontaneous applause among some of about 65,000 people who were evacuated to enable experts to make the bomb safe.
Many residents are now awaiting permission to return to their homes.
The evacuation on Sunday morning was the biggest in post-war German history, involving hundreds of officials.
Police checked every designated house with heat-detection technology to make sure everyone was out.
Media captionThe evacuation operation was carried out with typical German precision
The evacuation area in the Westend district included hospitals, nursing homes and Germany's central bank.
There are believed to be hundreds of thousands of unexploded wartime bombs across Germany.
The defused bombImage copyrightAFP
Image captionThe 1.4 tonne British bomb was found on a building site on Wednesday
Evacuated people rest at a Frankfurt community hall (03 September 2017)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionEvacuated residents are expected soon to be allowed back into their homes
Police early on Sunday morning cordoned off the 1.5km (1 mile) evacuation area as residents carrying luggage vacated the danger zone. A few stragglers who were slow to move may be prosecuted, local media reported.
Many residents made the most of the day, either by visiting relatives or enjoying a day out in a different part of the city.
Police told local media that the evacuation took place on schedule even though a handful of residents - for various reasons - were not initially prepared to vacate the area.
The 1.4 tonne British bomb was found on a building site on Wednesday.
More than 100 patients from two hospitals were moved on Saturday including premature babies and people in intensive care. Some care home residents left early on Sunday.
Hospitals were evacuated on Saturday

Bomb site has become a tourist stop
Fire and police chiefs in the city warned that an uncontrolled explosion of the HC 4000 bomb would be powerful enough to flatten an entire street.
Police close a street in Frankfurt (03 September 2017)Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionStreets were closed off by police early on Sunday morning
A police helicopter observes the danger zone as about 65,000 people in Frankfurt evacuate part of the city while experts defuse an unexploded British World War Two bombImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPolice helicopters carrying heat detecting cameras scoured the area as bomb disposal experts began their task
The bomb disposal operation was completed ahead of the 12-hour estimate.
Police helicopters carrying heat detecting cameras scoured the area as bomb disposal experts began their task. Police will continue guarding empty houses and apartments from burglars until evacuees have returned home.
The area affected included 20 retirement homes, an opera house, and Germany's central bank where half the country's gold reserves are stored.
The city opened shelters for evacuees to spend the day, and most museums opened their doors for free.
A smaller evacuation took place on Saturday in Koblenz, about 110km (68 miles) west of Frankfurt, while experts disposed of a World War Two bomb that had been found during the construction of a new kindergarten.

So, how many unexploded bombs are there in Germany?

An average of about 2,000 tonnes of unexploded ordnance are found each year in Germany. It's estimated that about half the 2.7 million tonnes of bombs dropped by Allied powers during World War Two landed on German soil (compared to about 74,000 tonnes of bombs dropped on the UK by Germany). Many of the bombs were equipped with malfunctioning time-delay fuses, and many never went off.
Adding to the problem are Russian artillery shells, German hand grenades and tank mines, as well as Russian munitions from training facilities in post-war East Germany.
The problem is so widespread that Germany has a bomb-disposal unit, the Kampfmittelbeseitigungsdienst (KMBD), dedicated to the problem. Its technicians are among the busiest in the world, deactivating a bomb every two weeks or so - and they estimate their work will continue for decades to come.

Do the bombs pose a real threat?

Dozens of bomb-disposal technicians and hundreds of civilians died from uncontrolled explosions in the decades following the war. The rate of fatalities has slowed since, with 11 technicians said to have been killed in Germany since 2000.
But experts warn that the devices that remain could be getting more unstable as the munitions age and their fuses grow more brittle, and as bombs are discovered in more built-up, harder-to-reach areas.
The problem is also worse in certain parts of Germany. Oranienburg, just outside Berlin, has the dubious distinction of being the "most dangerous town in Germany". Under Adolf Hitler, it contained an armaments hub, aircraft plant, railway junction and a nuclear research facility - so it was a key target for the Allies, who gave it an aerial pounding. Almost 200 bombs have been defused in the town since the end of the war, and residents are well-drilled in the evacuation procedure. But with experts estimating that some 350-400 bombs remain buried, the task is far from complete.

Other WW2 bombs recently discovered in Germany

WW2 Bomb found in Frankfurt causes biggest evacuation since the war

A similar but smaller bomb found earlier this year.
They found an unexploded 1.8 kiloton British blockbuster bomb this week while digging a new foundation.  They are disarming it today.  That means everyone within a 2.5 K radius has been evacuated.  Our chapel is about 500 m outside that boundary.  

Our chapel (and our apartment) are in the little red circle in the upper right.

Our chapel is open as a sanctuary for anyone who wants one.  The German ward met there, holding only sacrament meeting then had a potluck dinner and are staying open until 8 and the all clear.  Board games are being played.

This is a large cake for the potluck dinner: "cracked" in the shape of the evacuation area.  

Our ward went down and met with the Offenbach branch south of the Main river.  We alternated English and German prayers and hymns.  I sang in German because I like it.  Our final speaker at sacrament meeting was our stake president.  His translator was Elder David Thomas, who had been one of his professors at BYU law school!

All is well. The sun is shining.

War.  The gift that keeps on giving.

Frankfurt am Main.  The bomb is of this photo to the upper right

The British-made bomb, which weighs 1.8 tonnes and is two metres in length, was found during building work on the Wismarer Strasse in the Westend district, according to the Frankfurter Rundschau. German media said the bomb was nicknamed "Wohnblockknacker" (blockbuster) during the war for its ability to wipe out whole streets or buildings.
A police spokesperson said on Wednesday that 70,000 people will likely have to leave their homes, meaning that almost one in ten of the city's 717,000 inhabitants will be affected.

BY REUTERS   SEPTEMBER 3, 2017 12:02  

FRANKFURT - Thousands of residents in Frankfurt evacuated their homes early on Sunday ahead of the planned defusing of a massive World War Two bomb discovered on a building site in the German financial capital.
A steady flow of people filed into a temporary center at Frankfurt’s trade fair site, in Germany's biggest evacuation since the war.
The bomb was found last week in the city's leafy Westend suburb, where many wealthy bankers live, and the evacuation area included the country's central bank where $70 billion in gold reserves are stored.
Around 60,000 people had to leave their homes and Frankfurt fire and police chiefs said they would use force if necessary to clear the area, warning that an uncontrolled explosion of the bomb would be big enough to flatten a city block.
Police set up cordons around the evacuation area, which covered a radius of 1.5 km (roughly a mile), as residents dragged suitcases away and many families rode away from the zone by bicycle.

Bus and uBahn lines closed
The fire service said the evacuation of two hospitals, including premature babies and patients in intensive care, had been completed and they were now helping about 500 elderly people leave residences and care homes.
More than 2,000 tonnes of live bombs and munitions are found each year in Germany, even under buildings. In July, a kindergarten was evacuated after teachers discovered an unexploded World War Two bomb on a shelf among some toys.
In Frankfurt, bomb disposal experts will use a special system to try and unscrew the fuses attached to the HC 4,000 bomb from a safe distance. If that fails, a water jet will be used to cut the fuses away from the bomb.
The bomb is assumed to have been dropped by Britain's Royal Air Force during the 1939-45 war. British and American warplanes pummeled the country with 1.5 million tonnes of bombs that killed 600,000 people. Officials estimate 15 percent of the bombs failed to explode, some burrowing six meters (yards) deep.
Three police explosives experts in Goettingen were killed in 2010 while preparing to defuse a 1,000 lb (450 kg) bomb.

Trust me.  People will evacuate.  No one wants the police to come to their door.
Frankfurt police said they would ring every doorbell and use helicopters with heat-sensing cameras to make sure nobody is left behind before they start diffusing the bomb on Sunday.
Roads and transport systems, including the parts of the underground, will be closed during the work and for at least two hours after the bomb is defused, to allow patients to be transported back to hospitals.

Air traffic from Frankfurt airport could also be affected and small private planes, helicopters and drones were banned from the evacuation zone. Most museums were offering residents free entry on Sunday.  (rhs note: some museums were opening as early as 6 AM and said they had extra food and free games and activities for families planned.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Storm in Frankfurt

This post is for family and friends who have lived in Frankfurt: really unusual weather!

Aug 15 Randy and I were delivering a new baby box to a refugee camp on the west side of Frankfurt when this storm hit. It blew some siding off one of the homes - the one we were in with the new baby!. When we got home, I found that all my plants on the balcony had been blown down. Least damage to the tomato, surprisingly. I lost half of the petunias to breakage and there was minor flooding into the frontroom.

Here is a lovely conclusion: we had to leave the balcony in a rather wet and muddy state when we left the next morning on a refugee fact finding trip to France (hard, but someone has to do it!). We asked our friends and neighbors, E&S Van Hoff (IT specialists) to water our plants while we were gone. Arriving home, we found that Elder Jon Van Hoff had cleaned and washed both balconies!,unwetter-hessen-112.html

Violent storm in the Rhine-Main area - fire service in continuous use
traffic and rail traffic paralyzed
Updated on 15/08/17 at 23:08
Within a short time the fire brigade had over 200 deployments. Image © Michael Seeboth (hr) / Fire Department Frankfurt
The airport and the main station in Frankfurt are dense, trees are overthrowned, cellars are flooded: over the Rhine-Main area a heavy storm has unloaded. In the Taunus, a lightning set a row house on fire.
video Post   Violent storm in the Rhine-Main area

Several trees were down right along Marbachweg, the street by our church.
It only took a good half an hour. But the storm that escaped over the Rhine-Main area on the afternoon of the service evening had it in itself - especially for Frankfurt. Heavy traffic, lightning and thunder temporarily suspended the entire air traffic and large parts of the railway traffic in the city.

For an hour, the check-in was on the apron of the airport. The main railway station was blocked - the train and S-Bahn in Frankfurt also imposed a compulsory break.

Fraport spokesman said. Neither take-offs nor landings were possible from 2.30 pm to 3.00 pm. This later led to delays and cancellations. There were about 50 flight failures until the late afternoon.

"We have to wait and see how we can catch up," the airport spokesman said. Passengers had been asked to schedule their arrival at the check-in counter as early as possible before departure. In addition, Fraport also recommended checking the flight status on the airlines' websites.
Forced passage for rail
But it was not just the airport: train traffic in the Frankfurt area was halted at 14.47, as a railway speaker said. It also met all suburban railways, as the Rhine-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) communicated.   At 15.20 clock it was then rolled again slowly. Until it was again in regular operation, but it would still take a while. He says nothing has been reported about the damage, said the railway speaker.
This roof was blown off a house in Preungesheim, which is only about 1 kilometer from our apartment. 
According to the fire department, the fire brigade had already completed about 100 operations until 3.30 pm in the city. One and a half hours later, there were already 230 locations - among other things, because trees were tipped on parking cars. In the district of Preungesheim the stormy wind swept a flat roof from a house. Firemen helped with a provisional plan. In the late evening the result of the Frankfurter Feuerwehr: On this day, the Einsatzkräfte were disarmed 287 times because of the severe weather.

A total of 287 operations due to the #Unwetter have been processed since noon today. Predominantly overturned trees and water in buildings.