Deaths elsewhere

March 14, 2010

HEINZ STAHLSCHMIDT

WWII demolitions expert

Heinz Stahlschmidt, a World War II demolitions expert in the German navy who disobeyed orders to raze the crucial French port of Bordeaux and instead set off a controlled explosion that was credited with saving the city, died Feb. 23.

In late August 1944, with Allied forces closing in, he was ordered by his superiors to rig Bordeaux's docks to blow.

Stahlschmidt said he could not bring himself to perform the job.

He killed dozens of Germans with his controlled blasts but spared nearly 3,500 civilians - the number the Germans expected to die in the port blast. By saving Bordeaux - home to a vital harbor and nucleus of the famed wine region - he also helped assure France had a stable platform for postwar economic recovery.

- The Washington Post

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