We still have things that need to be finished, and when they are finished, they will turn the tide.
~Adolf Hitler, March 13, 1945, addressing officers of the German Ninth Army.
An Unusual Exchange at
At the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals after the war, an amazing exchange occurred between former architect cum Nazi minister of armaments, Albert Speer, and Mr. Jackson, the chief American prosecutor.
The purpose of the experiment was to find a quick and complete way of destroying people without the delay and trouble of shooting and gassing and burning, as it had been carried out, and this is the experiment, as I am advised.
A village, a small village was provisionally erected, with temporary structures, and in it approximately 20,000 Jews were put. By means of this newly invented weapon of destruction, these 20,000 people were eradicated almost instantaneously, and in such a way that there was no trace left of them; that is developed, the explosive developed, temperatures of from 400 degrees to 500 degrees centigrade and destroyed them without leaving any trace at all.
Do you know about that experiment?
SPEER: No, and I consider it utterly improbable. If we had had such a weapon under preparation, I should have known about it. But we did not have such a weapon. It is clear that in chemical warfare attempts were made on both sides to carry out research on all the weapons one could think of, because one did not know which party would start chemical warfare first...
~Cited in Harald Fath, Geheime Kommandosache -S III Jonastal und die Siegeswaffenproduktion: Weitere Spurensuche nach Thuringens Manhattan Project (Schleusingen: Amun Verlag, 1999), pp. 82-83. Original text cited in English.
This exchange is remarkable in several respects, not the least of which is that its "explosive contents" are almost entirely overlooked in standard histories of the war and its aftermath.
There was a large, and very secret, uranium enrichment program inside Nazi Germany, beginning sometime ca. late 1940 or early 1941, and continuing, apparently unabated - as the surrender of the U-234 would imply - right up to the end of the war.
Now, at Nuremberg, we have corroboration of the use of some type of weapon of awesome explosive power in the east by the Germans, this time from no less an individual than the chief American prosecutor at the Tribunal. And in his case, it is apparent that he is relating information gathered by intelligence. It is worth pausing to consider the implications of the exchange between
We shall begin with Speer. Albert Speer was successor to Dr. Fritz Todt as minister of armaments and production for the entire Third Reich. Speer's accomplishments are not to be gainsaid, it was largely owing to his efforts to organize the huge Nazi industrial capacity and streamline its efficiency that the wartime production of
His methods in achieving this feat were simple but effective: German industry was decentralized and dispersed into smaller plants, and, to the extent possible, moved into underground bomb-proof factories. "Modular" construction techniques were employed wherever possible. For example, German U-boats were produced in modular fashion, in sections, far inland in such factories, and transported to ports for final assembly. The deadly Type XXI U-boats with their exotic and revolutionary underwater propulsion systems - allowing an underwater cruising speed in excess of 21 knots, an unheard of speed for that time - were produced in this fashion at the end of the war.
But notably absent from Speer's comments is any indication that he was even aware of the huge extent of the German atom-bomb project and its enormous uranium enrichment program. Lofty as his position in the Nazi hierarchy was, it would appear that Speer was entirely in the dark on the programs and totally oblivious to any progress that had been made. The reason for Speer's ignorance will be addressed in due course (and by Speer himself!), but suffice it to say, the German government, like its American counterpart, had rigidly "compartmentalized" its atom bomb production program and placed it under the tightest security. But clearly, by the time of the exchange between Jackson and him, Speer and the whole world had heard of the atom bomb. So Speer appears to obfuscate his answer somewhat by redirecting the topic to chemical warfare.
The question of a revolutionary chemical explosive is not, however, as far-fetched as it might at first seem, for Jackson's comments suggest it by referring to temperatures of 400 to 500 degrees centigrade, far below the enormous temperatures produced by an atomic explosion. Was Speer obfuscating his answer, or was
The prosecutor's statements and question also corroborate in loose fashion another component of our developing story, for he clearly alludes to the use of some type of weapon of mass destruction, possessed of enormous explosive power, in the east, and significantly, at or near Auschwitz, site of the I.G. Farben "Buna factory." It is to be noted that the Nazis had apparently gone so far as to build an entire mock town and placed concentration camp inmates in it, an obvious though barbaric move to study the effects of the weapon on structures and people. His statements afford a serious clue - and one often overlooked even by researchers into this 'alternative history" of the war - into the nature of the Nazi's secret weapons development and use, for it would appear that insofar as the Third Reich possessed weapons of mass destruction of extraordinary power, atomic or otherwise, they were tested and used against enemies consider by the Nazi ideology to be racially inferior.
Thus we are also afforded a speculative answer to the all- important question: If the Germans had the bomb, why didn't they use it? And the answer is, if they had it, they were far more likely to use it on
The use of such weapons on the Eastern Front by the Germans would also tentatively explain why more is not known about it, for it is highly unlikely that Stalin's
Acknowledgment of the existence and use of such weapons by the mortal enemy of Communist Russia could conceivably have ruined Russian morale and cost Stalin the war, and perhaps even toppled his government. As we proceed further into our investigation of German secret weaponry, its connection to Nazi ideology, and its use on the eastern front, we will encounter more and more examples of the strange story or event.
For now, however, we note the strangely ambiguous quality of Mr. Jackson's remarks. "Now I have," he begins, "'certain' information, which was placed in my hands, of an experiment which was carried out near
A Marshal, Mussolini, and the First Alleged Test Site at Rugen Island
The question of the location of a possible German atom bomb test comes from five very unlikely sources: an Italian officer, a Russian marshal's translator, and Benito Mussolini himself, an American heavy cruiser, and an island off the coast of northern
Before he and his mistress Clara Petacci were murdered by Communist partisans, and then later hung from meat hooks in
The wonder weapons are the hope. It is laughable and senseless for us to threaten at this moment, without a basis in reality for these threats.
The well-known mass destruction bombs are nearly ready. In only a few days, with the utmost meticulous intelligence, Hitler will probably execute this fearful blow, because he will have full confidence.... It appear, that there are three bombs - and each has an astonishing operation. The construction of each unit is fearfully complex and of a lengthy time of completion.
~ Benito Mussolini, "Political Testament,” April 22, 1945, cited in Edgar Meyer and Thomas Mehner, Hitler und die ,,Bombe": Welchen Stand erreichte die deutsche Atomforschung und Geheimwaffenentwicklung wirklich? (Rottenburg: Kopp Verlag, 2002)
It would be easy to dismiss Mussolini's statements as more delusional and insane ravings of a fascist dictator facing defeat, clinging desperately to forlorn hopes and tattered dreams. It would be easy, were it but for the weird corroboration supplied by one Piotr Ivanovitch Titarenko, a former military translator on the staff of Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, who handled the Japanese capitulation to Russia at the end of the war. As reported in the German magazine Der Spiegel in 1992, Titarenko wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the
~`Edgar Meyer and Thomas Mehner, Das Geheimnis der deutschen Atombombe: Gewann Hitlers Wissenschaftler den nuklearen Wettlauf doch? Die Geheimprojekte bei
Mussolini and a Soviet marshal's military translator are not the only ones corroborating the strange number of "three bombs", for yet a fourth bomb may actually have been in play at one point, being transported to the Far East on board the US heavy cruiser Indianapolis (CA 35), when the latter sank in 1945.
These strange testimonies call into question once again the Allied Legend, for as has been seen, the Manhattan Project in late 1944 and early 1945 faced critical shortages of weapons grade uranium, and had yet to solve the fusing problem for the plutonium bomb. So the question is, if these reports are true, where did the extra bomb(s) come from? That three, and possibly four, bombs were ready for use on
But the strangest evidence of all comes from the German
In this context it is also extremely curious that this time frame in 1944 was, for the Allies, a banner year for atomic bomb scares. On Saturday August 11, 1945, an article in the London Daily Telegraph reported British preparations for German atom bomb attack on
NAZIS' ATOM BOMB PLANS
It can now be disclosed that details of the expected effect of such a bomb were revealed in a highly secret memorandum which was sent
that summer to the chiefs of Scotland Yard, chief constables of provincial forces and senior officials of the defence services.
An elaborate scheme was drawn up by the Ministry of Home Security for prompt and adequate measures to cope with the widespread devastation and heavy casualties if the Germans succeeded in launching atomic bombs on this country.
Reports received from our agents on the Continent early last year indicated that German scientists were experimenting with an atomic bomb in
In view of our own progress in devising an 'atomic' bomb the Government gave the reports serious consideration. Thousands of men and women of the police and defence services were held in readiness for several months until reliable agents in
~"Nazis Atom Bomb Plans," London Daily Telegraph, Saturday, August 11, 1945, cited in Edgar Meyer and Thomas Mehner, Hitler und die ,,Bombe"
This article, coming as it does a mere two days after the bombing of
First, and most obviously, the alert in
Second, the site of the alleged test -
(1) It might indicate that Hitler's interest in maintaining troops in Norway had more to do with the German atom bomb project than anything else, since, if the report was accurate to begin with, it would indicate a large scale German atom bomb effort was underway there;
(2) Conversely, the report may have been deliberately inaccurate, i.e., there may really have been a test, but one that took place somewhere else.
Third, the presumed "alert" continued from August 1944 "for several months," thus, the news account indicates something else: Allied intelligence was aware, and genuinely fearful, of German atom bomb testing.
Fourth, the article mentions that the test concerned a bomb launched from a "catapult". The V-l "buzz bomb", the first generation of the cruise missile, was launched from large steam-driven catapults. Putting two and two together, then, the "
With these thoughts in mind, we come to the final point. The alert was canceled when the test was proven a failure. The question is, what failed? Was it the bomb itself? The delivery system? orboth? An answer lies, perhaps, in another curious news article that appeared in the British press almost a year earlier, on Wednesday October 11, 1944, in the London Daily Mail:
BERLIN IS 'SILENT' 60 HOURS STILL NO PHONES
The Swedish Foreign Office is unable to ring up its Berlin Legation.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the major crisis between the Wehrmacht and the Nazi Party has come to a head and that "tremendous events may be expected."
To-day's plane from
German papers arriving here on today's plane seem extraordinarily subdued, with very small headlines.
It is pointed out, however, in responsible quarters that if the stoppage were purely the technical result of bomb damage, as the Germans claimed, it should have been repaired by now.
~Walter Farr, "Berlin is 'Silent' 60 Hours: Still No Phones," London Daily Mail, Wednesday, October 11, 1944, cited in Meyer and Mehner, Hitler und die ,,Bombe"
Of course we now know what was not known in October of 1944: when an atomic or thermonuclear bomb is detonated, the extreme electromagnetic pulse knocks out or interferes with electrical equipment for miles from the detonation site, depending on the size of the blast, the proximity of such equipment to it, and the degree of "shielding" such equipment has. For the normal, non-military phone lines in
Thus, if the atom bomb test mentioned in the 1945 London Daily Telegraph article occurred, then one must look for a site considerably closer to
But the Daily Mail's phone service disruption article does more: it suggests why the Germans may have considered the test a failure. At that time the effects of nuclear explosions -electromagnetic pulse and disruption of electrical equipment, radioactivity and fallout - were still largely unknown and not well understood. The
Finally, to round out the newspaper scavenger hunt, a curious series of articles from the London Times between May 15 and May 25, 1945, covered a story about German troops on the Danish Baltic Sea
It is here on this island that Italian officer Luigi Romersa was the guest and eyewitness to a German "wonder weapon" test on the night of October 11-12, 1944. After journeying by a night drive for two hours in the rain from
There were four of us: my two attendants, a man with worker's clothes, and
Around , in the twilight, shadows appeared, running toward our bunker. They were soldiers, and they had on a strange type of "diving suit". They entered and quickly shut the door. "Everything is kaput," one of them said, as he removed his protective clothing. We also eventually had to put on white, coarse, fibrous cloaks. I cannot say what material this cloak was made of, but I had the impression that it could have been asbestos, the headgear had a piece of mica-glass in front of the eyes.
Having donned this clothing, the observation party then left the bunker and made its way to ground zero:
The houses that I had seen only an hour earlier had disappeared, broken into little pebbles of debris, as we drew nearer ground zero, the more fearsome was the devastation. The grass had the same color as leather, the few trees that still stood upright had no more leaves.
There are peculiarities of Romersa's account that one must mention, if this were the test of nuclear bomb. First, some of the blast damage described is typical for a nuclear weapon: sheering of trees, obliteration of structures, and so on. The protective clothing worn by the German technicians as well as the polarized glasses also are typical. And the test does appear to have involved use in a "populated area" with houses and so on, in similar fashion to prosecutor Jackson's exchange with Speer. However, Romersa, apparently a careful observer, fails to make any mention of a fusion of soil into silicate glassy material that also normally accompanies a nuclear blast close to the ground. Romersa has the test taking place in full daylight. This would make sense, from a security point of view, since daylight would tend to mask the visibility of the blast more effectively from prying eyes in the distance.
But whatever was tested at
The Three Corners (Dreiecken) and the Alleged Test at the Troop Parade Ground at Ohrdruf
A more controversial allegation, however, concerns the alleged test of a high yield atom bomb by the SS at the troop parade ground and barracks at Orhdruf, in south central
This entire facility was part of a vast complex of underground sites under the command structure of the SS, and named "
So what were these facilities researching? Almost nothing was known about them until witnesses and relatives of witnesses began to talk after German reunification. One such man was Adolf Bernd Freier who, before his death in
But most importantly, Freier alleges that the "atomic weapon" was ready on July 2, 1944! [According to Freier's allegations, the bomb was ready on July 2, 1944, but not its delivery system, meaning presumably the "Amerikaraket"] What kind of atomic weapon is meant here? A "dirty" radiological bomb, designed to spray a vast area with deadly radioactive material but far short of an actual nuclear fission bomb? Or an actual atom bomb itself? Freier's choice of words is not clear. But one thing does stand out, and that is the date of July 2. 1944, the same month as the attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the - very aptly named - "Bomb Plot" approximately two weeks later. The consequence of a successful German development of even a radiological bomb might thus be one of the primary motivations for the anti-Hitler conspirators to attempt to remove the Führer when they did, and might explain their hidden logic in assuming that the Allies would negotiate with an anti-Nazi (or at least un-Nazi) provisional German government in spite of the Allies' own demands for an unconditional surrender, for the possession of such a weapon would have given the conspirators considerable negotiation leverage. And if the conspirators knew of the existence of the weapon, and of Hitler's plans to deploy it in actual use, it may have been the final moral compulsion for them to act.
In any case, the most problematical aspect of the alleged test of an atom bomb by the Nazis in the Ohrdruf-Three Corners region of
So how does one explain the extraordinarily small critical mass, especially since the Manhattan Project was aiming for a uranium critical mass of around 50 kilograms?
This question deserve serious consideration, for it affords yet another possible clue - if the allegation is to be credited with accuracy - into the real nature of the Nazi atom bomb project. We have seen already that the project was developed under several different and discreet groups for reasons partly due to security, and for reasons partly due to the practical nature of the German program. For security reason, I believe the "Heisenberg" group and the high-profile names associated with it were deliberately used by the Nazis as the "front" group for public, namely Allied, consumption. The SS security and intelligence apparatus would have undoubtedly concluded, correctly, that these high profile scientists would be high priority targets for Allied intelligence for kidnapping and assassination. Accordingly, it is highly unlikely that the Nazis would have concentrated any genuine atomic bomb secrets or development exclusively in the hands of this group. The very existence of the Allied Legend for so many years after the war is direct testimony to the success of this plan. The real atom bomb development occurred far from the prying eyes of Allied intelligence, under the auspices of the Reichspost and more importantly, under the direct auspices of the SS.
The second facet of the German atom bomb program we have likewise previously encountered: its emphasis on what was practically achievable during the war. Hence, while the Germans knew of the possibilities of plutonium and a plutonium-based atom bomb, and therefore knew that a functioning reactor used to produce plutonium for bombs would thereby enable Germany to develop more bombs for the same investment of fissile material, they also knew that a major technical hurdle lay across the path: the development of a successful reactor in the first place. Thus, as has been previously argued, they opted to develop a uranium-based bomb only, since uranium could be enriched to weapons grade purity without the necessity of the development of a reactor, and since they already possessed the necessary technologies to do so, if employed en masse. Like its American Manhattan Project counterpart, the SS-run program relied on massive numbers of enrichment units to separate and purify isotope.
Now let us extend this line of reasoning further.
And so we return to Freier's statement of a remarkably small 100 g atom bomb test at Ohrdruf on March 4, 1945. There does exist a method by which much smaller critical masses of fissile material can be used to make a bomb: boosted fission. Essentially, boosted fission simply relies on the introduction of some neutron- producing material - polonium, or heavy hydrogen: deuterium, or even tritium - to release more neutrons into the chain reaction than is actually released by the fissile critical mass assembly by itself. This raises the amount of free neutrons initiating chain reactions in the critical mass, and therefore allows two very important things:
(1) It allows slightly lower purity of fissile material - materially not considered of sufficient purity to be weapons grade without boosted fission - to be used for an actual atom bomb; and,
(2) it requires less actual fissile material for the critical mass assembly to make a bomb.
Thus, "boosted fission" would have afforded the German bomb program a practical way to increase the number of bombs available to them, and a reliable method for achieving an uncontrolled nuclear fission reaction with lower purity of enriched material.27 it is perhaps quite significant, then, that Freier's testimony concerning the Three Corners underground weapons factories also mentions the existence of an underground heavy water plant in the facilities, for heavy water, of course, contains atoms of deuterium and tritium(heavy hydrogen atoms with one and two extra neutrons in the nucleus respectively).
In any case, the test of a small critical mass, boosted fission device of high yield at Ohrdruf on March 4, 1945, is at least consistent with the parameters of the German bomb program and its practical needs. But there are interesting, and intriguingly suggestive, corroborations of the test. According to Freier, Hitler himself was indeed in the Three Corners headquarters for a brief period at the end of March 1945. It is known that Hitler did personally visit and address the officers of the German Ninth Army, operating in that precise area, in March of 1945., and stated to them that there were still things that needed to be "finished", an interesting comment if seen in the light of Freier's allegations that it was not the bomb that Germany needed, but the delivery systems. It does make sense that if there were such a test, that Hitler would have been present as an observer to witness the final success of German science in delivering to him the "ultimate weapon".
But perhaps the most persuasive bit of evidence that there is far more about the end of World War Two than we have been told can be found in two exceedingly odd facts that emerge from the Three Corners region of Thuringia in south central Germany. In a statement made on March 20, 1968, former German General Erich Andress was in the Three Corners region at the end of the war, when suddenly, more American military personnel(who were already occupying the area), arrived with jeeps and heavy transports, and immediately ordered all the buildings and houses in the area to have their windows totally blacked out, leaving one to conclude that the Americans were removing something from the area of great value to them, something they wished no one to see. The second odd fact is even more curious, for it is a fact that, of all the areas in modern
So, what is really signified by the unique exchange of remarks between former Reich Minister of Armaments Albert Speer, and Chief American Prosecutor Jackson at Nuremberg? That
The great secret of World War Two, one which the victorious Allies and Russians wish to keep secret to this day, was that Nazi Germany was indisputably first to reach the atom bomb, and was indisputably for a very brief period before the end of the war, the world's very first nuclear power. But why is the Allied and Russian secrecy continued even to the present day?
Why didn't the Nazis use their bombs if they had them? The answer to that question may be that if they used any weapons of mass destruction, nuclear or otherwise, they would have been far more likely to have used them in a fashion consistent with their racist and genocidal ideology, as well as against the enemy that was their largest military threat: on the Eastern Front, against the Soviet Union, where a paranoid Stalinist regime would have been loathe to admit to the world or to its own war-savaged people that they faced an enemy with overwhelming technological superiority. Such an admission would likely have so demoralized the Russians, already forced to spend rivers of their own blood in every engagement with the Wehrmacht, that Stalin's regime itself may not have survived such an admission.
But why not use them against the Western Allies in the last stages of the war, as the military situation grew increasingly desperate?