Tuesday, February 17, 2015

How Funny Are Those Explosions?

Accidents have always happened, and when you go through a lot of old newspapers, you really get a sense of just how many times they also repeat themselves. The warnings your mother came up with when you were a child were definitely founded in fact, not just an expression of overprotectiveness. The amount of articles about scalded infants, children drinking drain cleaner and even grown men drinking acid by mistake, throughout the 20th century Danish newspapers, are astounding. I personally don't like dwelling on tragedies, but there is a small percentage of these stories that are truly head-scratching, where noone got seriously hurt. 

Take for example the case of the couple from Fredericia, who were out for a romantic walk one quiet summer night in 1946. Suddenly they spotted a light under a bench, which turned out to be a candle. Confused about the sight, they blew out the candle and sat down for a while. Shortly after they heard an explosion, and the woman lept to her feet with a scream. Some sort of projectile had hit her leg, creating a wound that, although not deadly, did command medical attention. As an explanation, the police speculated that some disturbed person had placed a bullet close to the candle, in hope of making it fire. But even if one manages to stretch the mind to accept that answer, it still raises a lot of other questions.

Strange explosion under a public bench (Aftenbladet, 1946)

One can also find several news stories about large explosive devices, appearing in the most unlikely places. What would make a sane person choose a landmine to kindle the family's kitchen stove, you might ask. Apparently, many people did this back during the last war, because the wooden outer shells of the mines were highly flammable, and because they were somewhat in abundance. It did happen that people forgot to pull out the interior once in a while, though. For example, one day  in September of 1945, where a man and his wife put a mine inside the stove and briefly went outside. Then came a large explosion from the house, where the couple's two children were sitting on a table close to the stove. Amazingly, they survived without injuries, even though the stove had been blown to bits, with parts sticking out from the walls and ceiling.

"A Landmine in the Stove". Apparently the locals started looking for alternatives, following too many of these incidents (Aftenbladet) 

Another incident, from Ryesgade, Copenhagen in 1919, demonstrates that these homemade explosions weren't always self-inflicted. A ceramic stove in a first-floor apartment exploded here one night in April, taking out all the windows and setting the furniture on fire. There were children present here too, but by some miracle they also survived without injuries. The source couldn't be determined in this case, but it was proposed that a firecracker had somehow found it's way into the coal-pile.

A bomb in the stove. Always check your coal for stray firecrackers and the likes (Aftenbladet, 1919)

The same level of innoncence could not proclaimed by a man, who in 1941 decided to discard of a firebomb by placing it close to his stove. There it laid for a long period of time, until people in the area heard about it and called the police. Fortunately for him and his neighbours, nothing happened here either.

No comments:

Post a Comment