Apr 26, 2017 03:23 AM EDT
Europe's political crisis today as a result of Brexit is an explosion that has shockwaves across the sea. It is perhaps the loudest non-nuclear explosion guaranteed to be heard by the whole world. Ironically, it has reminded people about that incident sometime in 1947 when Britain literally blew up Heligoland, a German island located somewhere in the North Sea. The incident did not only alter the island's topography but also made history.
Britain's plan to sink Heligoland was initially brought about by a big problem. The Second World War has left tons of explosives and the Royal Navy had to find a way to dispose of it, according to National Post. Blowing up Heligoland proved to be the most logical solution.
Instructions were given to British naval engineer F.T. Woosnam to make sure over 7,000 of ammunitions, stacks of aerial bombs and boxes of grenades would make the island disappear. Heligoland used to be part of Britain until it made a deal with the German Empire in 1890 to exchange it with the African island called Zanzibar.
It proved to be very useful for the Germans who used Heligoland as a fortress when it attacked the United Kingdom (U.K.). It was used by Germany as a submarine base both during the First World War naval battle and the Second World War aerial battle against the U.K. In a documentation newsreel of the island's destruction the narrator proclaimed that the bombing was a reasonable way to celebrate the birthday of Hitler.
It was only in 1952 when people were allowed to move back to Heligoland, according to BBC. Since then, the island has become home to 1,500 Heligolanders and a favorite tourist destination. While it does not show any telltale sign that it was once leveled down, there are still underground tunnels once used as shelters for air raids. This has become an added attraction for visitors who go on underground tours.
Heligoland was built by the British but most Heligolanders have not forgiven them for flattening the island. Archivist Erich Kruess said most of the Heligolanders have never supported Hitler and some of them even had British passports. Heligoland's cratered landscape is a testament not only to Hitler's war but also to the vindictiveness of the British.
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