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HITLER’S BOMB: B.S.?

by noahmax on March 17, 2005

“German historian Rainer Karlsch says in a new book, Hitlers Bomb, that the Nazis successfully tested tactical nukes. While I havent seen his book and I dont speak German, Im frankly very skeptical,” says Military​.com analyst Joe Buff.

hbomb.jpgNot only does Dr. Karlsch publicly admit that he lacks definitive proof. But long-known facts, and his newly-revealed facts, in my mind just dont add up to anything like a working nuclear weapon.
One supposed eye witness to the test describes two huge explosions on one night in March, 1945. Others describe the same event in terms of just one long, slim pillar of light. This pillar swelled at the top so that it gained the appearance of a crown of branches and leaves atop a tree trunk. To me, in modern terms, this does sound like a mushroom cloud. People living nearby said that afterward they experienced nose-bleeds, nausea, fatigue, and headache symptoms. One man who was involved said that authorities asked his building company to cremate hundreds of corpses that were burned and dismembered, and then afterward destroy their own clothes — he said the bodies were obviously those of concentration camp or forced-labor inmates.
To me this reads a lot more like a disaster at a factory handling toxic chemicals, which might or might not have been intended for use as chemical weapons. Here are nine reasons why:

1. Any large explosion creates a mushroom cloud.
2. Any above-ground nuclear detonation, even a small tactical-yield one, begins with a blinding flash across the entire sky. Vision is especially impaired at night, when most peoples pupils are dilated due to the dark. The atomic mushroom cloud only results a few seconds after this initial flash. And in war-time 1945, in the remote area where these tests supposedly took place, between blackouts and chronic power shortages and such, at night it would have been really, really dark. One eye witness says they were looking out a window and then saw the mushroom cloud. OK, but it werent no nuke.
3. Acute radiation sickness severe enough to cause widespread nose-bleeds would cause other subcutaneous hemorrhaging too — like bruises all over the body — and both vomit and diarrhea would be bloody as well. Yet these symptoms are not mentioned, and they wouldve seriously stuck in peoples memories if theyd occurred, I think.
4. Its extremely unlikely, especially the way Nazi weapon scientists worked in general, for them to have conducted two nuclear tests at the same place in one night, as one witness claims. A test early in any countrys nuclear weapons program is an incredibly important event. Huge amounts of data are collected and need to be analyzed before it makes any sense to expend additional fissile metal on another test.
5. The Nazis did use slave labor in many of their industrial and weapons plants. Any victim killed in a series of explosions at a chemical factory would likely have been burned and dismembered — you dont need a tactical nuke for that. And recovery-worker clothing would indeed get contaminated by whatever chemicals caused the original disaster, so youd certainly want to dispose of them once you disposed of the corpses.
6. References in some of the media coverage to a Nazi dirty bomb seems muddled up with an actual fission device. Hitler is stated to have been relying on these dirty bombs to repulse the Soviet Armys advance on the Eastern Front. But its well known now, and it would have been understood by German physicists in 1945, that dirty bombs are largely psychological weapons — and they wouldnt have dented the psyche of Stalins revved-up minions marching on Berlin. The toxic effects of true dirty bombs are much more likely to be cancers years down the road, not immediate and total incapacitation and/or death such as occurred to victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. To halt a few million Russkie foot-soldiers on a front across hundreds and hundreds of miles, the idea of using radiological bombs is just delusional — but then, I admit, toward the end Hitler was completely delusional.
7. The actual supposed A-bomb test is described as having a yield much lower than that of the bombs the U.S. used on Japan. The German test, its said, was maybe about a kiloton. But in reality its actually a much more difficult engineering problem to cause an atomic blast of just one KT instead of 20 KTs. Sure, in theory the smaller yield can be obtained with less fissile fuel, which would seem to make it an easier and quicker thing to do, but again theres a very big but. Achieving super-criticality at all with the amount of uranium or plutonium needed to produce a yield of exactly 1 KT is very, very hard, especially with W.W.II-era technology from any nation. Unless, that is, you willing design the weapon to use 20 KTs worth of bomb fuel and waste it in an intentionally inefficient blast — which would make no sense at all, even to a crazy Nazi.
8. Ah, you say, but maybe Hitler was going for 20KT and a bad design made the weapon fizzle, so it only yielded 1 KT. Sorry, that still doesnt answer the other objections above.
9. Dr. Karlsch relies on analysis of modern soil samples to say that the Germans operated a nuclear reactor near Berlin for perhaps some days or weeks. Its been well known since 1945 that the Nazis were working on what was quaintly called in those days an atomic pile. The design was dreadfully flawed and its uranium was nowhere near purified enough even to mere reactor grade — the pile would never have achieved a sustained critical chain reaction. The flawed design, running at its best sub-critical activity level, would indeed leave behind traces to show up in soil samples and get people excited sixty years later, if they enjoy getting excited by this sort of thing.
The book says that the nukes were never used against the Allies because the Nazis didnt have enough of them. With this part I agree: not enough, as in having exactly zero.

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{ 1 comment }

Sy Gunson November 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

The claim is not B/S although some interpretations may be flawed

Reply points:
#1 A Penemunde pilot named Hans Zinsser was recorded in an affidavit by USN Intelligence Captain Hickey saying he witnessed the mushroom could from an "Atomic Test Station" rise to 22,000 feet with flashes of blue and violet in the boiling mushroom cloud. Whilst large blasts can cause mushroom clouds purely chemical explosions dissipate heat quickly and do not rise to the same altitudes as nuclear blasts do because in a nuclear blast mushroom cloud, the ionising radiation in the cloud continues to generate heat. Flashes observed by Zinsser are specific to a nuclear mushroom cloud.
#2-3
Rugen in the vicinity of Dranske was a military exclusion area in WW2 and when the Russians arrived the remaining Germans were forced out by Poles. During WW2 all Germans were forced by curfews into communal bomb shelters, thus were not at liberty to observe test blasts.
#4
The Schumann Trinks bomb being tested at Rugen was described in a series of wartime patents having only 150 grams of Uranium 233 per warhead therefore they were not expending huge amounts of fissile material for every test, unlike the Trinity test which I gather used in the vicinity of10.5kg of Pu239. Press reports from Stockholm in October 1944 described a series of electromagnetic black-outs cutting communications with Berlin.
#5 There was no chemical or explosives factory on the Bug isthmus at Rugen. There was an air base home to a unit of KG200 and some open space used for weapons testing…no arms factory at all.
#6
German physicists like Houtermanns published accurate estimates of the critical mass for U235 and Pu239 (known to the Nazis as "Eka Osmium") in October 1940.
#7
Super critical nuclear weapons were not beyond German scientists. The Schumann Trinks warhead patent describes a plasma pinch detonation method in 1942 copied a decade later by USA to make miniature nukes. Once you understand the physics and the Germans did, crushing Lithium 6 with Deuteride under great heat and pressure to ignite a small fissile mass was relatively simple. Today one would use Scandium and Trittium but the principle is no different.
#8
No General Dornberger was secretly recorded by the British from 2-7 August 1945 describing Hitler's intentions to use nuclear warheads on the V-2 and this was cited in evidence at Nuremberg. Japanese diplomatic signals to Tokyo described a 5 kilogram (10lb) uranium atom smashing warhead. There was no failed attempt to create a 20Kt warhead. The warhead was designed from the start to be a 0.5Kt warhead. The SS late in the war however worked with Zippermeyer on a 10Kt warhead using Trittium and Lithium-6.
#9
The Nazis did not need a nuclear reactor to make Uranium 233. They had a 6.4 MeV Van der Graff generator at Berlin Dahlem which produced artificial radiation (X-rays) sufficient to transmute Thorium 232 into Uranium 233 via Protactinium 233. Indeed KGB files declassified in 2005 reveal that Heisenberg did advocate breeding Protactinium at the Harnack Haus conference of 1942. Captured scientists at Farm Hall were secretly recorded in August 1945 referring to this as the Photo-chemical process for obtaining fissile Uranium.

I have answered all of your objections Joe Buff. The German Atomic bomb was credible. It was not used because before the first tests in October 1944 Allied intelligence was aware of the project and Hitler was threatened by Churchill with retaliation with Anthrax if nukes were used against British soil. A man named Doug Deitrich a former US Millitary Archivist has revealed he was ordered after the war to destroy captured German documents describing the use of German nukes against soviet forces in Pomerania in the closing stages of the war. There is more to emerge on this subject in the coming decades as still classified documents continue to see daylight.

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