De Leidse Zeemijn (Leiden's Naval Mine) – Leiden, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

De Leidse Zeemijn (Leiden's Naval Mine)

The remnants of a WWI naval mine that once terrorized the country now decorates a street. 


World War I and World War II resulted in a massive loss of life in Europe, which was left devastated after many bombings and other atrocities. Today, most of the damages are a distant memory, if not forgotten. However, some of the tools used during those wars remain as reminders of the worldwide chaos that took place. One of these instruments are naval mines.

The Netherlands conducts trade primarily by sea. Most of the North Sea is safe, but large ships are still required to follow certain routes. Partially to streamline the traffic and to avoid areas with potential mines.

Occasionally, one of these mines washes up on shore and must be defused and disposed of by an ordinance squad. These days, all parts are removed after disposal, but during the 1980s, the army was not so neat, and scraps often exploded from the mines and could be found scattered along the beach.

One such scrap made it back from the beach to Leiden. Here it was hung on a chain as a monument of sorts to commemorate the war and to fashion something out of an object only made to destroy.

The mine is the top half of a German EMA (or Elektrische Mine Type A) naval mine. These mines were developed during WWI and deployed widely by both ships and submarines. They were discontinued towards the end of the war, but because large stockpiles remained, they were used again during WWII.

Know Before You Go

The mine is located on the first floor level in the street. You can't miss it.

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