Atomic Bombs Dropped On Japan By U.S. Used Components Bartered From Nazi Germany, Researcher Says Components Were Originally Shipping For Germany’s Ally Japan
A researcher has announced findings that the American atomic bomb program credited with developing the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan to end World War Two, and which resulted in the United States emerging from the war as the most powerful nation on earth, used components developed by Nazi Germany, including enriched uranium, to fabricate the bombs. The revelation counters important aspects of the traditional history of the American bomb project, known as the Manhattan Project. The commonly accepted version of atomic bomb history states the bombs were created entirely by the United States, at a cost of $2 billion and five years of work by a battalion of top scientists, with assistance from Great Britain. While the new evidence does not refute American success initially enriching uranium — the key component of one of the bombs — strong documentary evidence indicates time pressures, technological delays, and a surprise opportunity to obtain from Germany the needed components that were in short supply in America, allowed the Manhattan Project to complete its bombs in time for the mid-August 1945 delivery deadline.
“What I suspect will shock people the most is it appears the possession of the enriched uranium and other components fell into our hands not by capture, but as part of what may have been clandestine negotiations between top Nazis and key United States military and governmental leaders,” said Carter Hydrick, the researcher who has spent eight years investigating the events. “The agreement appears to have been made in exchange for allowing these fugitives to escape from Europe and receive United States protection while they lived in semi-seclusion for decades after the war,” he stated. Hydrick displayed several documents from the United States National Archives and elsewhere to support his historical revision, as well as drawing from previously enigmatic events in the traditional history he contends have long been misunderstood, to show that Nazi Germany was an important source of nuclear bomb components used in the attacks on Japan.
Among the documents are captured Navy cargo manifests from German submarine U-234 that lists 580 kilograms, or 1120 pounds, of uranium oxide, as well as most of the Nazis’latest, and most secret, war-making technologies; including, two fully disassembled Messerschmidt 262 jet fighters, the first jet aircraft used in combat and the only such planes employed in World War Two; the newest silent electric torpedoes; and plans and material to build Germany's feared V-2 rockets. The existence of U-234 and its cargo have long been known, and have been the subject of discussions over whether the uranium or any other components found on the vessel were used in the war against Japan, but, until now, no connection has ever been proved.
“The first big break was finding a secret dispatch from the Commander of Naval Operations in Washington indicating the uranium was stored for the journey in cylinders lined with gold,” explained Mr. Hydrick. “Further research showed that gold, which is a very stable substance, was only used to handle uranium that had already been enriched in order to protect it from contamination by corrosion.” Only enriched uranium is fissile enough to make a uranium bomb. Hydrick explained that, at $100,000 per ounce in 1945 dollars, the enriched uranium was well worth the investment in gold to protect it. According to Hydrick's sources, gold would not have been used to ship uranium that had not yet been enriched, since the value of raw uranium did not justify such expense. He cites instances in the United States program when uranium that had not been enriched was shipped in cloth bags and steel drums with no protection from corrosion whatsoever.
A second, stronger, validation that the uranium on board U-234 was enriched uranium came from eye-witness accounts of a crew member of the submarine, who was present at both the loading and unloading of the boat. The crew member reported in two memoirs that the uranium containers had the label “U235” painted on them just before they were lowered into the submarine. U235 is the scientific designation for enriched uranium. The same crew member reported that United States Navy personnel later tested the supply tubes of the submarine with Geiger counters after it was turned over to the United States and the instruments registered a very high level of radioactivity. Without understanding the import of the U235 designation, the crew member assumed the uranium was left over from Germany's failed, but later highly publicized, plutonium breeding reactor experiments.
“The evidence seems very strong that the uranium on board U-234 was bomb-grade, enriched uranium,” said Hydrick.
Even if the uranium was enriched, that does not prove it was used in the Manhattan Project, concedes Hydrick. To prove the two events were related, he presented copies of documents held in the United States National Archives that show relationships between the Manhattan Project and the U-boat. One of the documents is a secret cable, again from the Commander of Naval Operations, directing that a three-man party had been dispatched to take possession of the cargo from U-234. According to the document, accompanying two Naval officers in an otherwise all-Navy operation was Major John E. Vance of the Army Corps of Engineers, the department of the Army under which the Manhattan Project operated. Additional documents show that a few days following Vance’s arrival, when another accounting of the cargo was made, the uranium had disappeared from the materials in Navy possession. Transcripts of telephone conversations that occurred approximately one week later between two Manhattan Project intelligence officers identify a captured shipment of uranium powder as being in control of, and being tested by, a person identified only as “Vance.” “It would be an improbable coincidence if they were not talking about the same “Vance” as the officer who visited U-234, and the same uranium powder captured from that vessel,” suggested Hydrick.
A second connection is also documented between the Manhattan Project and U-234 — which carried eight high-profile military and scientific passengers who were not crew members, along with its deadly cargo, says Mr. Hydrick. “Two of the captured passengers on U-234 had contact with an alleged United States Naval Intelligence officer identified in separate documents by the prisoners, as ‘Mr. Alvarez’ and as ‘Commander Alvarez’,” Hydrick said. The alleged “Commander Alvarez” appears to have been the personal handler of Dr. Heinz Schlicke, one of the scientific passengers on board U-234, who had now become a prisoner of war. Dr. Schlicke was an expert on high frequency technology such as radar and infra-red technology.
Upon researching the Navy officers and alumni rosters of 1943 and 1945, Hydrick found no entry in the name of Alvarez was recorded in either document. “General Groves, who headed the Manhattan Project, is well documented as having frequently provided military identification to scientists within the Manhattan Project in order for them to operate unimpeded, when necessary, within the military establishment,” said Hydrick. The researcher then points to one of the heroes of the Manhattan Project, Luis W. Alvarez, as the probable identity of “Commander Alvarez,” who he suggests was dressed incognito in Navy uniform to surreptitiously cull information and technological expertise from Dr. Schlicke.
“Luis Alvarez was the scientist on the Manhattan Project who is credited with coming up with, at the last minute, the successful solution for simultaneously detonating the 32 fuses that exploded the second, or plutonium bomb, which was the bomb dropped on Nagasaki,” the researcher said. Before a solution was found for this problem, according to Hydrick, the Manhattan Project had struggled for a year and a half with the dilemma. Hydrick points to documentation from the National Archives showing that Alvarez was the head of a three-man committee tasked with solving the fusing problem.
“Dr. Schlicke had in his personal care while on the U-boat, a supply of Germany’s newly developed infra-red fuses,” Hydrick continued. “In the national archives there is a secret cable recounting how Schlicke was flown back to the U-234 site by two United States Navy personnel expressly to retrieve those infra-red fuses. These fuses work on the basis of light, and at the speed of light. The evidence strongly suggests, in my view, that Luis Alvarez and “Commander Alvarez” were one and the same person and that Luis Alvarez used Dr. Schlicke’s infra-red fuses to ignite all 32 detonation points on the American plutonium bomb simultaneously at the speed of light, solving the plutonium bomb detonation problem.”
As substantiating evidence of the link, Hydrick cites the fact that prior to his assignment in the Manhattan Project, Alvarez worked on high-frequency technology, including radar, the same field in which Schlicke was an expert. “Based on their backgrounds, of all the people in the Manhattan Project who would be expected to interface with Schlicke, if there was an interface, it would be Luis Alvarez,” Hydrick claims. “It is interesting that Alvarez is the one name that shows up as the United States’ counterpart to Dr. Schlicke.”
Following the war, Schlicke joined the United States military as a contract worker in the top-secret project, “Operation Paperclip.” Luis Alvarez went on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics relating to his high-frequency work, and was one of the original proponents for the now widely accepted theory — though greatly maligned at the time of its introduction — that a large meteorite struck the earth eons ago, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs and other profound events in the history of pre-Homo Sapien Earth.
While Hydrick’s revelations regarding the uses of U-234's cargo and passengers will probably cause widespread controversy among historians and World War Two enthusiasts, his proposition that U-234 was intentionally surrendered to United States forces according to a prearranged agreement with top Nazi leaders is certain to bring a storm of debate. “The evidence is not of the compelling, ‘smoking gun’ nature of the documentation proving the link between U-234 and the Manhattan Project. But there is a significant body of circumstantial evidence suggesting some of Hitler’s top men made a deal with our leading intelligence and military people to hand over the U-boat in return for their freedom and protection. This evidence needs to be further explored,” Hydrick says.
That body of circumstantial evidence, according to Hydrick, suggests that Martin Bormann, chief of the Nazi Party, Hitler’s personal manager and secretary, and arguably the most powerful man in the German Reich outside of Hitler, at the end of the war negotiated the control of the U-boat and its passengers and cargo over to the United States prior to the fall of Berlin in late April 1945. Historians have long argued the claim that Bormann died trying to escape from Berlin on May 1, 1945. The main evidence given for his death was based on eye-witness accounts by Hitler's chauffeur and Artur Axmann, head of the Hitler Youth organization, both of whom maintained strong Nazi convictions and connections until their deaths and, therefore, their motives have been considered suspect. Although neither witness categorically stated they were certain they saw Bormann dead, their account has become the traditional version of Bormann's end. Despite this finding, Bormann was convicted of war crimes in absentia at the Nuremberg trials and a warrant was placed for his arrest that remained in effect for many years, as did a later warrant issued in West Germany in 1967 based on new evidence of his continued survival. Many sightings of Bormann, alive and well, were reported over the three decades following the war. The supposed grave of Bormann's escape partner, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller, was also disinterred in 1963 and found to contain the skeletal remains of three men, none of them Mueller.
The traditional history has many holes in it, according to Hydrick. “The presently accepted account says Bormann and Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller attempted their escape together, traveling partially through the subway tunnels around the Reichs Chancellery before they met their deaths in the street fighting. It’s fairly certain they escaped together, but the problem with the rest of the story is that the subway had been flooded by the SS — which, by the way, killed thousands of German women and children who were forced there for shelter when their homes were bombed out. The SS flooded the subway to keep Russian troops from secretly approaching and attacking Hitler’s bunker through the underground,” explained Hydrick. “The subway escape legend appears to be a cover story devised beforehand for later dissemination. It did not take into account the unforeseen flooding by the SS.”
A more logical, objective and credible version of the Bormann escape, according to Hydrick, was reported by Josef Stalin’s intelligence agents. Stalin stated to Harry Hopkins, political consultant and confidant of Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, and later secretary of state, that Soviet agents reported Bormann's escape from Berlin late the night of April 29 in a small plane and in the company of three men — one heavily bandaged — and a woman. From there, Stalin insisted, his agents traced Bormann to Hamburg, where he boarded a large U-boat and departed Germany.
Several details of these events ring true to Hydrick. For example, it is a well-known fact that while Berlin was being bombed and the Nazi leadership fell into panic or fled, Martin Bormann maintained secret radio negotiations with Admiral Karl Dönitz, the commander of all of Germany’s U-boats, and had made plans to escape to Dönitz's submarine headquarters. Dönitz at first resisted this effort but ultimately was ordered by Hitler (presumably at Bormann's bidding) to accept Bormann at his headquarters. From this point on, Hydrick concedes, details become sketchy and many disparate accounts are given of Bormann's escape or possible end. But parallels from various, otherwise unconnected, Führer bunker escape stories seem to indicate a probable scenario, according to the researcher.
First, Hitler's good friend Hanna Reitsch, the famous German aviatrix and counterpart to Amelia Earhart, tells in her autobiography how she flew seriously injured German Air Force General Ritter von Greim, whom Hitler had just made Commander of the Luftwaffe, out of Berlin late one night in the last days of the war. Other accounts confirm the flight was made April 29, 1945, the same night Stalin's agents reported Bormann's escape by small aircraft. Reitsch recounts how they flew to Dönitz's headquarters “to make our last visit and farewell to Grand Admiral Dönitz” before flying south to the Austrian/Swiss border — an odd and seemingly careless detour of several hundred dangerous miles with the badly injured and very important General von Greim. “There was something more to that trip than fond good-byes,” insists Hydrick.
Second, a separate, independent account purportedly of Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller's escape follows a somewhat similar path, though in it he was flown out of Berlin alone. In this account, Mueller was flown out of the German capital late the same night as in Reitsch's tale, in a Fieseler Storch airplane, the same aircraft used in Reitsch's story, under exactly the same conditions Reitsch describes. Müller makes no account of flying to meet Dönitz, but tells a story about flying to the Austrian/Swiss border that is decidedly similar to Reitsch's version.
There are obviously discrepencies in these stories, as there are in virtually all accounts of these events; and it is hard to know what is true and what is disinformation, according to Hydrick. But the similarities of the independent accounts set against the observations of Stalin’s informants that three men, one injured, and a woman, flying out of Berlin in a small airplane, seem to paint a compelling scenario. “The description of that little group of night flyers is explicit and unique in its observations,” argued Hydrick, “and yet it adheres in its details, even the unusual ones, with the Stalin account. It identifies Bormann and Müller by name; also a heavily bandaged man, which fits the description of von Greim at the time; and a woman, which would be Hanna Reitsch, probably the only woman in the world one could have expected to see in that circumstance, at that place, at that time. The three accounts just seem to interlock too well not to be connected,” insists Hydrick.
Hydrick adds other proof to his escape proposition, as well. The chief radio operator of U-234 describes how, in mid-April, he received at least one message on a high-priority frequency (and probably at least one other coded communique) directly from Hitler's bunker in Berlin while the U-boat was stationed in Kristiansand, Norway. The order read: “U-234. Only sail on the orders of the highest level. Führer HQ.”
"There are many implications here, the main ones being there was some kind of connection and an arrangement made between U-234 and someone at Hitler's headquarters," Hydrick asserted. An order sent to the U-boat a short time later by Admiral Dönitz seems to be an effort to keep the U-boat under his command. It reads: “U-234. Sail only on my order. Sail at once on your own initiative.” U-234, the largest U-boat in the German navy, set sail within hours, leaving Kristiansand bearing due south, exactly toward Hamburg, where Stalin's observers reported Bormann boarded the “large” U-boat in the early hours of May 1.
There appear to be discrepancies between these accounts, too,” said Hydrick, “like the fact it would normally take a U-boat only a day to sail from Kristiansand to Hamburg and according to our accounts U-234 left Kristiansand in mid-April and would not have picked up Bormann until May 1.” But U-234 was not heard from again after leaving Kristiansand until May 12, almost a full month. By then, the U-boat was only 500 miles northeast of Newfoundland. If the boat was following the course its captain and traditional history said it took headed for Japan, then it was traveling at only 1 1/2 miles per hour. “That is slower than a man walks and far slower than a fleeing U-boat is likely to have traveled,” Hydrick argued.
Hydrick contends that U-234 silently patrolled the North Sea according to prearranged plans with Bormann at Hitler's headquarters, until Bormann was able to negotiate an agreement with Dönitz. As the end of the war drew near, the boat slid into Hamburg harbor under cover of night and picked up Martin Bormann and Heinrich Müller, then continued its voyage, by way of a rendezvous off the coast of Spain to off-load Bormann, and then on to its surrender to United States forces at sea, again under mysterious conditions.
Hydrick asserts that a successful negotiation between Bormann and Dönitz would explain not only the radio transmissions, but it would explain why Dönitz, with no political experience and virtually no political following, and quite to the surprise and puzzlement of leaders worldwide, became Hitler's successor. He also believes that a series of enigmatic events leading up to U-234’s surrender point to an intentional secret capitulation of the boat outside of the parameters of the general surrender orders given on VE Day.
Lastly, he contends a photo taken by a local newspaper photographer at the time U-234 docked on United States shores, shows a mysterious, unidentified civilian prisoner with a remarkable physical resemblance to Heinrich Müller disembarking the Navy ship that carried U-234 passengers from the U-boat to shore. Hydrick believes the subject of the photo is, in fact, the former head of the Gestapo stepping onto American soil. According to Hydrick, Müller’s mission was to oversee the transferal of the atomic bomb components and other war materials from Germany to the United States and that, in return, Müller, Bormann and many other Nazis received American protection for decades, and continue to receive such protection even up to the present day.
Japan's Atomic Bomb
Japan was working on its own atomic bomb when the United States dropped atomic bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
Did the Nazis inadvertently fuel U.S. atom bombs?
The Nazi submarine U-234, which surrendered to U.S. forces in May 1945, was found to be carrying a diverse cargo bound for Tokyo as part of a secretive exchange of war materiel between Hitler and Hirohito.
The payload represented the pride of German technology and included parts and blueprints for proximity fuses, antiaircraft shells, jet planes and chemical rockets.
But nothing the U-234 concealed in its warrens was more surprising than 10 containers filled with 1,200 pounds of uranium oxide, a basic material of atomic bombs. Up to then, the Allies suspected that both Nazi Germany and imperial Japan had nuclear programs but considered them rudimentary and isolated.
Historians have quietly puzzled over that uranium shipment for years, wondering, among other things, what the U.S. military did with it. Little headway was made because of federal secrecy.
Now, however, a former official of the Manhattan Project, John Lansdale Jr., says that the uranium went into the mix of raw materials used for making the world's first atom bombs. At the time he was an Army lieutenant colonel for intelligence and security for the atom bomb project. One of his main jobs was tracking uranium.
Lansdale's assertion in an interview raises the possibility that the American weapons that leveled the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained at least some nuclear material originally destined for Japan's own atomic program and perhaps for attacks on the United States.
If confirmed, that twist of history could add a layer to the already complex debate over whether the United States had any moral justification for using its atom bombs against Japan.
A pivotal question that surrounds the episode is whether the three months between the U-234's surrender in May 1945 and the dropping of the U.S. bombs in August 1945 left the Manhattan Project's bomb builders enough time to incorporate the captured uranium.
Another is whether President Harry Truman, who authorized the atomic bombing of Japan, knew of the U-234's radioactive cargo.
At least a dozen historians, journalists and nuclear experts around the world are now at work on this and related mysteries surrounding the U-234, going through newly declassified documents and interviewing aging former members of the German and Japanese militaries and participants in the Manhattan Project.
"There's no question they were hurting for uranium," Stanley Goldberg, a science historian in Washington who is writing a book on the Manhattan Project, said of the U.S. bomb venture. "They scraped the bottom of the barrel. They came to within an inch of not having enough material for a uranium bomb."
As to whether the weapons used any of the U-234's uranium, Goldberg, like several historians and nuclear experts, said in an interview that he was unconvinced but intrigued.
Even if none of the submarine's cargo went into the explosive mix, some experts hold, the U-234 episode is important to explore for what it reveals about the Japanese atom bomb program, which has long been clouded in ambiguity.
Peter Zimmerman, a physicist who has studied the issue and advises the defense department, said, "Where it becomes very significant is if it helps demonstrate that the Japanese had a sizable program and that there was close cooperation among the Axis powers."
The U-234 left the German port of Kiel on March 25, 1945, bound for Japan on a voyage around the horn of Africa. After Hitler's death a month later, the submarine surrendered to U.S. forces in the north Atlantic and was taken to the U.S. submarine base at Portsmouth, N.H., where reporters watched its arrival on May 19, 1945.
In secrecy the Navy took careful inventory of the submarine's crew and cargo, recording the details in an exhaustive manifest that today is in a public file at the Navy's Operational Archives at its Historical Center in Washington.
The manifest says that the uranium came in 10 cases, weighed 560 kilograms and was transported from Germany as an oxide, which is a handy industrial form refined from raw uranium ore. Kathy Lloyd, an archivist at the center, said in an interview that the Navy had "no paper trail" on where the shipment went after the inventory.
Zimmerman said that amount of uranium oxide would have contained about 3.5 kilograms of the isotope U-235, which is the critical one for making bombs. That 3.5 kilograms, he added, would have been about a fifth of the total U-235 needed to make one bomb.
Among the experts who have tried to track the mysterious shipment is Robert Wilcox, a journalist and author of "Japan's Secret War" (Marlowe & Co.), a book about Tokyo's atom-bomb project. After its publication in 1985 he updated the book for a 1995 edition coincident with the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan.
But Wilcox drew a blank after inspections of hundreds of documents in the National Archives, the repository of papers from the Manhattan Project. "What happened to the uranium?" he asked in the book's 1995 edition. "It's as if the incident had never occurred, as if U-234, its important passengers and cargo had never arrived."
Other experts have drawn similar blanks and concluded that the true story lies hidden in the government's secret files.
But Lansdale, the former official of the Manhattan Project, displayed no doubts in the interview about the fate of the U-234's shipment. "It went to the Manhattan District," he said without hesitation. "It certainly went into the Manhattan District supply of uranium."
Lansdale added that he remembered no details of the uranium's destination in the sprawling bomb-making complex and had no opinion on whether it helped make up the material for the first atomic bomb used in war.
In theory the uranium might have helped fuel the uranium bomb that leveled Hiroshima or the plutonium bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki. In a kind of modern alchemy, plutonium is made by irradiating uranium in a nuclear reactor, turning it from one element into another.
Vilma Hunt, a nuclear expert working on a book about uranium used in the war, has researched the fate of the U-234's shipment for years. She said she had concluded that it went into the Manhattan Project's mix, not based on any positive evidence she had been able to unearth but simply because of the project's great need for weapons material.
"At that time there was a limited amount of uranium oxide available," she said in an interview. "We needed it."
Based on the comments of Lansdale, she added: "You could go as far as saying it was in the stream and would have had a high likelihood that it went into one of the first three bombs. That would have been pushing the system, but that's what they were doing."
The world's first atomic bomb was detonated in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, as a test. Hiroshima was bombed on Aug. 6 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9.
Skip Gosling is chief historian of the federal department of energy, which is the successor agency to the Manhattan Project and is the federal government's authority on making nuclear arms.
In an interview, he said he had long heard rumors that the U-234's shipment ended up at Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the Manhattan Project treated uranium to increase its concentration of the critical U-235 isotope. But he added that he knew of no documentary evidence that bore on the issue and said it would be hard to find such information half a century after the fact.