TONS OF WWII EXPLOSIVES FOUND IN MOSCOW HOTEL
MOSCOW – Workers demolishing a Stalin-era Moscow hotel Sunday discovered a ton of explosives that would have been used to blow the building sky-high if Nazi troops had taken the Soviet capital, media reported.
After its opening in 1935, the hotel Moskva was one of the Soviet Union’s flagship hotels and stood opposite the Russian parliament and only a stone’s throw from Red Square.
“The boxes held only explosives without detonators so there was no risk of an (accidental) explosion in the hotel,” a police spokesman told Russian news agencies.
NTV television showed sappers and construction workers removing bags of explosive from the deep, muddy hole that is all that is left of the hotel, which once sported a distinctive facade and dominated one of the capital’s main thoroughfares.
“According to preliminary information, the explosive was hidden in a cache during the Great Patriotic War,” a police spokesman was quoted by Itar-Tass agency as saying, referring to World War II. Police said they had removed a tonof explosive by evening.
NTV said the hotel was mined in case Adolf Hitler’s forces had taken Moscow. The German troops made it to the outskirts in 1942, but Soviet troops stopped them pushing into the center.
The Soviet Union had extensive contingency plans in case it lost the capital. Many factories, institutes and government bodies moved into Siberia and Central Asia.
The hotel has been demolished in what officials say is a drive to improve and modernize Moscow’s tourist facilities. Media have reported that city officials intend to build a new hotel looking exactly the same.
Many architectural historians say the demolition is a shameful end for a key Moscow landmark that should have been preserved.