Deployment History

The US stationed nuclear weapons in West Germany for nearly 70 years. The Soviet Union stationed nuclear weapons in the German Democratic Republic. It is believed that this deployment began in the late 1950s. The nuclear weapons stationed in Germany included many different types. Gravity bombs for delivery by aircraft were the main airborne systems, while nuclear artillery shells, nuclear mines and nuclear missiles were the primary land-based systems. Various missiles stationed in Germany could engage targets on the ground as well as in the air.

The following map illustrates the number of past nuclear weapon deployment locations in Germany. Examples of these sites are highlighted and described in more detail below:

Nuclear weapons stationing in the past
Ramstein Air Base
US AIR FORCE – Ramstein Air Base

Nuclear weapons were stationed at this American air base until about 2007. The air base is still in operation today. It is likely that Ramstein today still functions as a logistics hub for US nuclear bombs, and that aircraft with B61 bombs scheduled for service or modernization in the US stop over in Ramstein on the way to and from Büchel. Ramstein still has 44 special storage vaults for gravity bombs.

Muenster Ammo Depot (Münster, Hesse)
Muenster Ammo Depot (Münster, Hesse)

Many ammunition depots in West Germany were very similar to the one near Münster in the state of Hessen. The picture clearly shows the bunker systems that still exist there today. Among other things, nuclear artillery shells and nuclear mines were stored in these depots. They could also accommodate the “Davy Crockett”, a small nuclear device that soldiers on foot could move and fire from a small launcher.

Oedingen Nike firing site
Nike-Feuerstellung Oedingen
Three erected Nike Hercules missiles at the launch site of the first battery of the 22nd anti-aircraft missile battalion of the German air force, 1980

Nike Hercules missiles were nuclear-armed anti-aircraft missiles. After launch, the nuclear warheads were to be detonated to stop approaching enemy aircraft. They were deployed along the western border of Germany from 1959 onwards. Nike Hercules sits always consisted of a fire control station with radar facilities and associated launching systems. The people in the picture underscore the sheer size of these missiles.

Heidekaserne Halle
Heidekaserne Halle

The barracks in Halle (“Heide-Süd”) were used by the Soviet army as a storage site for nuclear warheads and missile units. The Soviet Union deployed the weapons and withdrew them at the end of the 80s without officially notifying the GDR.

Finsterwalde special weapons depot
Special weapons depot, Lausitzflugplatz Finsterwalde/Schacksdorf

A special weapons depot was used to store nuclear weapons for the fighter-bombers of the nearby Finsterwalde air base. The bunker remains there today.