Frankfurt: Famous for bombshell policy announcements, the European Central Bank faces the real thing this weekend.
The Eurozone’s monetary authority, along with businesses and residents in Frankfurt’s Ostend district, has been served with an evacuation order for Sunday as a 500 kilogram wartime bomb is defused.
Discoveries of unexploded ordnance from the Second World War are commonplace in Germany, and increasingly so in Frankfurt as it undergoes a building boom. Two years ago, 60,000 people were evacuated while a device was defused.
The latest unearthing is an American semi-armour piercing bomb with 145 kilograms of explosive and two mechanical ignition systems — and it’s in a construction site right next to the ECB’s 1.3 billion-euro ($1.5 billion) glass-and-steel tower by the Main river.
The five-year-old headquarters also includes an historical landmark, the former wholesale fruit and vegetable market which dates from 1928 and was a deportation centre for Jews during the war.
City officials have ordered employees and residents in a 1 kilometre radius to leave by 8am and not to return before evening, begging the question of whether the guardian of the euro will leave its gold reserves as well as its offices unsupervised for hours.
In short, no. The ECB had 18.2 billion euros worth of fine gold at the end of last year, but none of the holdings are on site. Instead they’re stored in London, Paris, Lisbon, New York and Rome. Nor will the Eurozone suffer from a lack of support for services such as payment systems.
“The functioning of the ECB will not be affected by this evacuation,” a spokesman said. “We have arrangements in place for staff to work from other locations as necessary.”