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WW2: Hitler's A-bomb

Retired Article • Written by Alan Bellows

It is well known that Hitler's weapons scientists were pursuing an atomic weapon in the waning days of World War 2, but new evidence has recently come to light that indicates that they were, in part, successful. These documents describe a primitive nuclear explosive that was successfully constructed in Germany, but it was too unwieldy and primitive to be delivered from an aircraft.

According to the author of this new German-language book entitled "Hitler's Bombe," several nuclear devices were exploded by the Nazis in 1944-45, and hundreds of POWs and internees died as part of the tests. The book also states there was a working nuclear reactor near Berlin in that same time period, and that Nazi physicists had drafted a patent for a plutonium bomb as early as 1941. The bombs which were produced and tested were reportedly "dirty bombs," which are made of up conventional explosives which are packed with nuclear material to add nuclear fallout to the bomb's destructive power.

A spokesman for the book's publisher said the book was based on research reports, construction plans, diaries, aerial photos, spy reports and testimonies of some of the scientists involved. He also said that radiation measurements and soil analysis were also used to back up the book's assertions.

The book is supposed to go on sale in Germany tomorrow, so perhaps closer examination of its evidence will reinforce or oppose these claims.

MSNBC News Article
Link to book on (auf Deutsch)

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 13 September 2005. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.

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Shad Larsen
Posted 13 September 2005 at 07:19 pm

This certainly sounds feasible. Shortly before Germany surrendered in WWII, the Japanese made contact requesting nuclear materials knowing the the Germans had their share (the Japanese had little to no nuclear material). The Germans agreed and loaded a U-boat with the material as it was the only feasible transportation method to go more or less undetected. Soon after the Germans surrendered and all ships, U-boats, etc were ordered to the nearest allied ports. The U.S. made very sure that they were the ones to intercept the U-boat and offload it's cargo; the Canadians should have been the ones to get the boat. There is a documentary from the History Channel that talks about these events that I watched recently, but I don't recall the name...

With all of that said, the German's certainly had the material. And prior events show that the Germans were pursuing very heavily a nuclear program and letters from Einstein himself show this. I think that there was likely some very basic nuclear weapons available that were not used due the pressing allied front moving on in to Berlin. One might wonder if the U.S. discovered evidence of such and hid the details?

Alan Bellows
Posted 13 September 2005 at 07:50 pm

Shad Larsen said: "One might wonder if the U.S. discovered evidence of such and hid the details?"

Given the secretive nature of the US government during World War 2, if this book's facts are right, I would say that it's quite likely that the US knew about Hitler's nuke program. In all of the questioning they did of Nazi scientists and officers, someone would have mentioned it. And there would be far too much evidence in documents, prototypes, etc to keep it a secret.

It would have sucked if they'd made more progress... the Third Reich had a potentially devastating long-distance delivery system for nuclear weapons: the V2 rocket. Fortunately they never got them anywhere near small enough to pack into the fire-and-forget missiles, otherwise England might've been in sorry shape.

Posted 06 March 2006 at 05:59 pm

I certainly am no WW 2 historian, but I have read in "Inside the Third Reich" by Albert Speer. He was one of Hitlers inner circle and in charge of weapons production during the war. On Pages 267 to 274 he talks about the riech's Nuclear program. He said he tried to finance it with millions of marcs, but the group could only use several hundred thousand. They knew they were way behind in 1942. a quote from the book"On the suggestion of the nuclear physicists we scuttled the project to develope an atom bomb by the autumn of 1942"...." In the summer of 1943, wolframite imports from portugal were cut off, which created a critical situation for the production of solid-core ammunition I thereupon ordered the use of uranium cores for this type of ammunition.. My release of our uranium stocks of about twelve hundred metric tons showed we no longer had any thought of producing atom bombs"
I would think that's pretty much from the horses mouth. Jim

Posted 14 May 2006 at 12:29 am

At The end of world war two the americans wanted to see exactly how close the nazis had come to creating there own nuclear weapon.

They asked all the German scientists that were involved in the project to write on a black board, showing the equation they had been using.
The Americans were shocked to see how close the germans had been to getting it wright.
If the Germans had continued with the project for another 6 months the war could have turned out alot differently.

Posted 05 July 2006 at 11:12 pm

It is quite a bit of historical irony that the theory of relativity that contains the idea of the convertibility of mass to energy -- the fundamental physics behind the A-bomb -- was considered as "degenerate Jewish Physics" not fit for German universities of the time. The funny thing was that they had this non-relativistic "Aryan Physics" that was taught by Einstein's "ethnic German" scientific opponents, who of course were quite happy to see the silly relativists pretty much running into exile, with Einstein as the shining example, him being Jewish. The point is it didn't neccessarily have much to do with Nazism per se, but just simple academic pride and prestige and stubbornness in the face of a theory they couldn't grasp...

I read somewhere that they had, for example, the critical mass required wrong by a couple of orders of magnitude. You need about 1,8 kg of Uranium for an A-bomb, and the Germans thought they needed 1800kg, which made them of course think of the project as unfeasible.

I have played around with the idea of a Nazi nuclear weapon for a long while. Considering Hitler's penchant for wars that aim for total destruction, he probably wouldn't have had any qualms about putting his nukes to use...

Posted 14 February 2007 at 03:43 pm

We run

Miller Systems WW2 Campaign

Strange but True:
It was NOT in fact Einstein who wrote those letters. They were written by Leo Zilard and 2 other fellows. But the American gov't and scientific community were dead set in the belief the British atomic bomb program was a 'pipe dream' and that the war would be over before it could possibly be completed even with the British program already completing most of the work.

Hungarian Leo Zilard actually patented what turned out to be the correct formula with the British Royal Navy in 1937 under the legal condition 'it never be used as a weapon'.

The British, using Canadian uranium and plutonium and th eworlds largest stockpile of heavy water and hydro-electric power, had actually done the majority of the leg-work already, leaving the American-funded Manhatten Project to do the rest. American colonel Leslie-Groves always said it was Churchill, not FDR, who was 'the greatest friend the Manhatten Project had.'

A recent BBC/Norway documentary sadly concluded that their sabotage killing fellow Norwegian civilians with British commando help was unfortunately unnecessary. After finding the production stockpiles, it was learnt that the Norwegian plants would've had to be producing 10,000 times as much heavy water for one bomb. But that is hindsight and they and the British didn't know that. I think they did the right thing.
However, others say that it only woke the Germans up to the fact that the bomb was feasible therefore.

You see, the remaining lead German scientist Heisneberg, made a calculation error indicating it would take 1,000 times more than true to build a bomb, thus Hitler felt it impossible. But the raid, critics say, alerted some in Germany that that may not be so. Still, I say that if we assumed the Norwegian plants were pumping out as much heavy water as our Canadian plants already were, then we had to assume the Germans could too.

There is even a story that some European scientists(ironically mostly non-Germans) might have continued on but wiped themselves out in an accident in what we would today call a 'dirty bomb'. There was no atomic explosion really, but the radiation released doomed the project. Yet even that story has a strange twist claiming that if Hitler did find out, he didn't want anything related to his refusal to use bio-chemical weapons either. Who knows? He would use a destruction weapon on us, but wouldn't use bio-chemical or ditry bombs on us. Strange but true?

I remind you all, that just because it is published in a book, or someone even finances it to be told on the History Channel or some documentary, does not necessarily make it true.

What is also interesting is that it appears the Germans, feeling the bomb out of reach, were still looking at 'atomic power'. Atomc power plants to give electricity to the Reich to alleviate their shrinking coal and oil reserves for other purposes. If Speer could use such power plants to release untold volumes of oil and petrol/gas for the German military, that could have been a 'super-weapon' in itself.

Strange but true?

Posted 14 February 2007 at 03:56 pm

PS...if the above sounds a mite self depracating or anti-us...although the British-led(mostly European scientists though) did most of the work to come up with the theories and formulas and experiments already, if they didn't hand it over to the Americans for the Manhatten Project, it would have taken the over-extended British and Dominions years longer to complete the atom bombs. The Manhatten Project, like his Pentagon work, was American military engineer Leslie Groves brilliance. What the British 'got around to' through the 30s, he and his people massed together in isolated security segregated sections in only a couple of years. Think on this when you hear of recent claims of Japanese and German atomic bombs. Truly an example of amazing American engineering and economic capabilities.

Ironically Truman went back on FDR's promise to Churchill to therefore share the atom bombs outright.
This infuriated the British of course.
In the end, the British did get the bomb but only after agreeing to supply the Americans with some of their stockpiles of equally illegal nerve gas, of which Britain had almost the world's entire supply of, as well as their expertise and experts.

Posted 19 April 2007 at 08:59 am

wow poor enstain (cant spell 2day) he must feel so guilty because its a lil bit his fault the worlds gonna end by a kaaaaaaaaaaaabbbbboooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Posted 07 May 2007 at 05:21 pm

One of the greatest ironies of history is that outside of death camps, Hitler actually refused to use such weapons he already knew he had access too. Not only the WW1 type gas attacks, but nerve agents, and yes, even 'dirty bombs'. Many say the reason he refused to use such was his own experience suffering such gas attacks and how he saw and suffered its effect first hand.

So why did he keep refusing pressure to use them when he was willing to see Germany be destroyed with him anyways?

And yet 'we', the 'good guys' on the 'morale high ground', are the only ones who actually used such 'war crime' weapons on the scale that could have forced a foe to negotiate terms.

There is no doubt that Hitler could have used such gas, disease, bio-chemical even radiaton dirty-bomb munitions on everything from his bombers to V-weapons. Yet he refused to do so to the end. Strange, especially for a person who kept promising secret super weapons that would save the day if the Germans would just keep on resisting to the end.

Simon Gunson
Posted 15 February 2008 at 07:50 pm

Before Rainer Karlshe published his book I quite independently researched the topic. There was a civil project to create an atom bomb canceled in 1942. What is equally true is that Martin Borman stepped in with Nazi party funds and a military project under Heerewaffenamt (HWA) commenced at Hamburg. This laboratory was destroyed by bombing in July 1943 and a new laboratory was established at Freiberg.

At the time of the July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler, the SS took over control of both the Peenemunde V-2 project and the HWA Atomic bomb project. Neither Albert Speer, nor Werner Heisenberg were in any position to know of the HWA project. Heisenberg was essentially a civil nuclear scientist with the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (KWG), or the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for physics.

The HWA project included Dr Paul Harteck, who developed the gaseous uranium centrifuge from efforts by Dr Erich Bagge at the Keil Univernen in 1942. This centrifuge process is today known as the Harteck process. It was used by South Africa, Pakistan and Iran to enrich uranium to bomb grade.

It entails using Flouric acid with Uranium oxide ("yellow cake") to create a gaseous compound called Uranium hexaflouride. This gas is spun in a tall centrifuge which is spun at 500 rpm. The bottom is heated by electrical induction. The more radioactive u235 boils and bubbles to the top of the centrifuge where it can be sluced off. Successive re-refining increases the concentration of U235 to bomb grade.

In 1944 contracts were let for the mass production of uranium centrifuges in Germany. This project was given ten times the funding of Heisenberg's team. Germany had an endless supply of Uranium from mines in western Czechoslovakia at Jac-y-more (then Joachimsthal). So much that it was exported to Japan following a request to the Germans in July 1943 from General Kawashima in Korea where the Japanese had their own nuclear project.

The destruction of heavy water in Norway impeded efforts to harvest plutonium from nuclear reactors. There was an alternate source of heavy water from led beck Plant in Germany, but it is safe to say that the Nazis could not produce a plutonium A-bomb.

The question then arises could they and did they develop a uranium Atomic weapon from the HWA team under Kurt Deibner at Leipzig ?

Posted 09 July 2008 at 08:45 pm

Enter your reply text here. OK
All secrets get released. Just wait 50 years or so. Even secret pass words decades out of use for old stuff are availible.

People say, "Oh yea... so that's happened."

Destroyed information is harder to come by.

Howard Robard Hughes IIV
Posted 02 June 2009 at 02:31 am

They were close to getting it right and if they had the right rocket and a few more years they would have did much more damage.PEOPLE forget mexico gave the allied forces 60% of ALL FUEL and FOOD that is why the big battle to get that fuel shipped.Howard Hughes JR/SR both gave weapons of all types.Howard JR had the GAR nuclear tip air-air missile in 1946-they had planned to use them on the SS aircraft.FILM blocked by the SS in euro hollywood films ALL blocked zero money overseas.CHURUBUSCO super team Howard Hughes /walt Disney shipped films from mexico and from hollywood side stepped the blockage to get the money going.COMMISSION by the US president.still the largest film studio in in the hands of the mex goverment payback for hollywood and the fuel and food

Posted 28 July 2013 at 05:58 pm

I am trying to find out more information on this subject. My father First Leiutenant Carl Kunisch was part or the
Alsos Mission which was part of the Manhattan Project. It was a small group of army and scientists who's mission was to go into Europe to find out how far the Natzis were in development of the atomic bomb My father ( who has passed away) told very few details of what he did but dr what he did relate and what i have been able to reserch I think there is much more to tell than the story that was told to the public at the end of the war. I am trying to research this so I can tell my children and nephews what there grandfather did durring the war. . I know they did find and dismantle 2 nuclear reactors, and found large amounts Uranium that was shipped back to the states also found and destroyed large amounts of heavy water. Also there is a lot of documentation of the german and french scientists they captured and sent back to England and then to the states. However I have found out that. Much of the info is still Clasified and will not be released until 100 years after the end of the war So if. Anyone can help me find more info about what the
Alsos group did and what they discovered I would greatly apreciate it

Chuck Kunisch
989 551 1845

John Benger
Posted 16 February 2014 at 10:12 pm

I have made many trips to Poland pursueing mining interests there. On one of my last trips I visited a site somewhere in Silesia (around 1998) where there was a tourist site based on a previously well hidden underground site (relatively small but amazing work) developed as part of Hitler's Atom Bomb Factory. I was told that there were a total of 9 of these sites each producing or preparing to produce patrs of the bomb and that they were only discovered in the 1990's. At the time of my visit the Polish authorities were still trying to piece together all the facts. Supposedly in the last days of WW2 all the people working at the 9 sites were executed to maintain the secrecy of the sites.

Posted 07 August 2014 at 07:00 pm

It has also been said that a German pilot broke the speed of sound in 1944. Some interesting stuff was happening towards that last few months.

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