Nazi Nukes: Did Hitler Develop An Atomic Bomb?

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Anonymous

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I've just started reading Vengeance by Philip Henshall, a factual study of Germany's V1 & V2 program in WW2. The author claims that the Nazis intended to use the missiles as carriers for radiological weapons i.e. highly radioactive dust intended to kill people and render huge areas uninhabitable. First I've heard of this one. I've only just started the book, so anybody any info as to the veracity of his claims?

Also re WW2 stuff: a couple a years ago a German U-boat was raised which was alleged to have a highly developed torpedo on board designated, as I remember, as the TU-11. I tried to follow up the story, but no joy. Anybody heard of that one?
 

chris_in_LA

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I've read a couple of books about the V weapons program during WWII, but I never ran across that one. Come to think of it, I don't remember anything in those sources mentioning anything other than high explosives being considered (and used) as the payload. Sounds interesting, though.
 

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mejane

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I haven't had chance to read the links yet and the following is all from memory, so forgive me I get some of the details wrong...

Germany certainly had a nuclear programme during WWII headed, I think, by Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame), who later claimed that he had deliberately not used some of the information received from Klaus Fuchs (the German spy involved in the Manhatten Project) because he didn't believe in the Nazi cause.

Jane.
 
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Anonymous

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True, when Heisenberg and his team heard about the US Nuke been used on Japan, his team were shocked because they didnt believe it possible. He told them all to meet in the main room 30 minutes later. He came in and showed them how it could be done.
 
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Anonymous

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Actually, Heisenberg's wartime role is the subject of much controversy: his supporters claim he deliberately led the Nazi nuke program down blind alleys (claiming there wasn't enough fissionable material on Earth, IIRC; a notion that resurfaced in an episode of Sliders, where it was attributed to a parallel-world Einstein), but the colleagues who worked with him all insist maybe he wasn't 'a good Nazi', but he was at the very least criminally naive about what the Nazis were really about, and additionally there is some suggestion that some of his work at the time was flawed with erroneous assumptions and miscalculations attributed by colleagues to his apparently arrogant personality and inability to take input from 'lesser lights'. (There's a famous wartime photo of him lecturing in front of a blackboard where he's -allegedly- very visibly made a very common error of some sort in what he's chalked up: don't ask me what -I couldn't follow the explanation. (Maths. Mind goes blank unless it's explained by Michio Kaku, in which case I still don't get it but I get enthused about the subject.) IIRC, it was in New Scientist a couple of years back now: a book review of some biography I think).

[EDIT] Found this on the New Scientist site from February 2002. Looks like maybe he was a good Nazi after all.[END EDIT]
Embedded link is dead. No archived version found.
 
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mejane said:
Germany certainly had a nuclear programme during WWII headed, I think, by Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame), who later claimed that he had deliberately not used some of the information received from Klaus Fuchs (the German spy involved in the Manhatten Project) because he didn't believe in the Nazi cause.
Apparently, he'd helped turn the Nazi Atom bomb team into a talking shop. I'd like to think he had delayed the whole thing, he was a very smart scientist.

Of course the Nazis also hamstrung themselves, by rejecting much of the crucial work of German Jewish scientists and forcing them into exile in the States.

The Nazis were extracting heavy water, using a hydro plant and fertiliser factory in Telemark in Norway, where di-deuterium (a heavy and stable isotpe of hydrogen) oxide was produced as a byproduct. This could used in the process to extract Uranium 235 to make fissile material.

The efforts to get the heavy water and extraction equipment back to Germany, were finally sabotaged in 1944. When the Hydro ferry(Site in Norwegian and English) was blown up by saboteurs.

Edit: Corrected the chemical formula name for 'heavy' water.
 
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Anonymous

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Thanks for the links & info. Not surprise that no-one's heard of this; I think it's really one of those 'what might have been' stories.
 
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acording to the telly prog on the serendering of WW2 U boats..fisionable materiel on route to Japan was abourd a U boat that surendered and was used in the bombs that were dropped on Japan.
 

rynner2

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sidecar_jon said:
..fisionable materiel on route to Japan was abourd a U boat that surendered and was used in the bombs that were dropped on Japan.
There's a lot on the web about this, eg this.

The fissionable isotope of Uranium is U235 -
the U-boat was U-234...

At first the Americans thought the boxes containing the uranium were just mislablelled ship's stores!
 
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mejane said:
Germany certainly had a nuclear programme during WWII headed, I think, by Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame), who later claimed that he had deliberately not used some of the information received from Klaus Fuchs (the German spy involved in the Manhatten Project) because he didn't believe in the Nazi cause.
Fuchs may have been German, but he was passing the information to the Russians. :)

If you want to see a wonderfully speculative play about the Heisenberg thing I whole-heartedly recommend "Copenhagen". Excellent play. (Some controversy about the historical accuracy, but still a good play.) :)
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Amerkai Bomber

Soooooooooo I watched the documentray on Channel 4 and I was wondering if anyone had any more information as the Channel 4 resources aren't as good as for other shows:

HITLER'S PLAN TO ATOM BOMB NEW YORK



Monday 26 January, 8pm

In 1944, the Nazi top brass believed that a rudimentary nuclear weapon might soon be within their scientists' grasp. Hitler, desperate to turn the tide of the war, hatched a secret plan for an aircraft that would usher in the age of global terrorism – the 'Amerika Bomber'. This would deliver the hoped-for 'wonder weapon' directly on to the biggest target of them all: New York City.

Hitler's Plan to Atom Bomb New York uncovers the astonishing competition that was held between Germany's top aviation designers to build a completely new aircraft capable of carrying and dropping the bomb on the towers of Manhattan. They included a giant V-rocket that would later provide the basis for the Apollo missions, and a high-altitude craft with fundamental similarities to the modern space shuttle.

The winner of the competition – a huge V-winged jet plane capable of crossing the Atlantic and returning in a single flight – was rushed into production. The film tells the story of how close the 'Amerika Bomber' came into being before an Allied mission put an end to the project once and for all.

If you're interested in pursuing this subject further, have a look at these Channel 4 resources …

--------------next page--------------------

If you're interested in pursuing this subject further, have a look at these Channel 4 resources …

Battle Stations I and Battle Stations II
The machines and structures that helped the world's superpowers achieve mastery of the battlefield – from World War II, the Korean, Cold and Vietnam wars and some from more recent conflicts.

Pink Triangle: The Nazi persecution of gays
The events that led to the deaths of at least 15,000 gay men.

Terror machine: Hitler's SS
This Channel 4 booklet (price only £5.99, which can be ordered online) tells the chilling story of how Adolf Hitler's tiny bodyguard grew into the most feared organisation that ever marched across Europe. With biographies of the leaders, eyewitness accounts, a timeline and suggestions for further reading, this is a sobering account of one of the most terrifying chapters in European history.

The last days of war
A chronology of 1945 plus links to information on the capture of the German submarine U-234 and the fate of the USS Indianapolis, and on the endless allure of 'Nazi gold' and 'Yamashita's gold'.

Japan at war: A beginner's guide
A selection of intriguing and fascinating books and websites – covering everything from the seizure of Manchuria in 1931 to the atomic bombs that ended the war in the Pacific in 1945 – to give you a glimpse of that conflict from a mainly Japanese perspective.

The Holocaust on trial
In January 2000, the controversial British historian David Irving sued American academic Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin Books, for saying, in her book, Denying the Holocaust, that Irving was 'one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial'. This website has summary of the court case and the issues it raised, a discussion of what 'Holocaust denial' is and why it is important to fight against it, a timeline and resources.
channel4.com/history/microsites/H/hitler_plan_bomb_newyork/index.html

https://web.archive.org/web/2005083...rosites/H/hitler_plan_bomb_newyork/index.html

I also loved that picture of the V2 with the White Sands sign on the side of it and those early delta wing aircraft are enough to get UFO/conspiracy nuts running around ;)

Emps
 
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Jerry_B

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Project Blue Book listed several sightings of delta-winged 'UFOs'.

For a good source of info, try the links I posted above, or go straight to the Luft '46 website.
 

Jerry_B

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AFAIK, this only has details of alleged German 'secret' weapon systems that may have given rise to 'foo fighter' reports.
 

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An interesting point on the Channel 4 documentary, was that though they were still some way from a fission weapon, the Nazis were close to a weapon that would disperse radioisotopes over a wide area - the same concept as what we now know as a a 'dirty bomb'.
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Amerkai Bomber

Emperor said:
Soooooooooo I watched the documentray on Channel 4 and I was wondering if anyone had any more information as the Channel 4 resources aren't as good as for other shows:



http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/H/hitler_plan_bomb_newyork/index.html

I also loved that picture of the V2 with the White Sands sign on the side of it and those early delta wing aircraft are enough to get UFO/conspiracy nuts running around ;)

Emps
I think that the term 'controversial' is an understatement and 'historian' an overstatement when discussing Mr Irving. Only an opinion, of course.
 

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"How close did the Amerika bomber come to being a reality?"

Not very. There were all sorts of wacky aviation projects that never got anywhere, and some which were downright suicidal.

Nazi technology is way overstated in this area. And yes, they saw foo fighters too and assumed they were an allied secret weapon...

A more worrying question would be "How close did the allies come to nuking Berlin?"

After the failure of the nuclear program, the uranium was put to other uses, including an early version of DU antitank rounds, and the dirty bomb was suggested but not used (and it's effectiveness highly doubtful)
 

naitaka

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Timble said:
An interesting point on the Channel 4 documentary, was that though they were still some way from a fission weapon, the Nazis were close to a weapon that would disperse radioisotopes over a wide area - the same concept as what we now know as a a 'dirty bomb'.
I wonder if they got the idea from Robert Heinlein? 'Solution Unsatisfactory' was published in 1941.
 

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From a footnote from `In Search of the Big Bang` by John Gribbin;

Athe the same time in 1938, another german physicist, Carl, Von, Weizsacker proposed the same basic mechanism for keeping the sun hot. Like Bethe, von Weizsacker also worked on the problem of making an atom bomb during the 40s, but he was working in germany at the time, and this may explain why he did not share the nobel award with Bethe in 1967, even though it has been suggested that von Weizsacker did everything in his power to ensure that the work of his team, did not, in fact, provide the nazis with nuclear weapons.
 

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Hitler had atom bomb first


4 March 2005

HAMBURG/WASHINGTON - Adolf Hitler had the atom bomb first but it was too primitive and ungainly for aerial deployment, according to a new book that indicates the race to split the atom was much closer than previously believed.

Nazi scientists carried out tests of what would now be called a "dirty" nuclear device in the waning days of World War II, writes German historian Rainer Karlsch in the book, entitled "Hitler's Bomb", which hits booksellers across Germany later this month.

Concentration camp inmates were used as human guinea pigs and "several hundred" died horribly in the tests, which were conducted on the Baltic Sea island of Ruegen and at an inland test in wooded hill country about 100 kilometres south of Berlin in 1944 and early 1945.

Karlsch, 47, author of a number of books on Cold War espionage and the nuclear arms race, supports his findings on what his publishers call hitherto unpublished documents, scientific reports and blueprints.

American historian Mark Walker, an internationally recognized expert on the Third Reich's atomic weapons programme, lent his support to Karlsch's claims Thursday.

"I consider the arguments very convincing," Walker told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.

However, Hitler's atomic weapon did not approach the devastating potential of the U.S. bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, said Walker, a history professor at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

Walker said the weapon secretly developed and tested by Nazi scientists was more comparable to a "dirty bomb" - nuclear material encased in explosives.

Such a weapon, which causes little actual destruction but which disperses large amounts of deadly radiation, could only have been used on the front to draw back enemy troops, he added.

Walker is the author of the 1990 book "Nazi Science: Myth, Truth, and the German Atomic Bomb".

The US historian praised Karlsch for writing "a whole new chapter" on Hitler's search for the "wonder weapon".

In the final days of the war, Hitler insisted that his scientists were developing a "wonder weapon" that would allow him to wrest last- minute victory from the jaws of impending defeat.

Hitler's claims have been dismissed as the rantings of a desperate and deranged man. But Karlsch's book lends credence to the possibility that Hitler may have been closer to getting his hands on his coveted "wonder weapon" than anyone has previously believed.

Hitherto, it was known that German scientists had carried out heavy-water experiments in an attempt to split the atom, using research facilities in Norway and elsewhere.

But it was widely believed that Nazi scientists had been hampered by a lack of pure-grade uranium, which was almost non-existent outside North America and Africa.

It was also surmised that Hitler had favoured conventional weapons over nuclear arms because his limited grasp of strategic warfare prevented him from seeing the ramifications of nuclear capability. It was believed that Hitler had discouraged development of the atom bomb.

But Karlsch claims to have been able to find documented proof of the existence of a nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons testing sites.

His publishers, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt (DVA), say his work is based on four years of painstaking research and interviews with independent historians.

Among the most compelling pieces of evidence is a 1941 patent draft for a plutonium bomb, according to DVA spokesman Markus Desaga.

"He also based his research on contemporary research reports, construction blueprints, aerial surveillance photos, notebooks of some of the scientists involved as well as espionage reports by U.S. and Soviet agents," Desaga said.

"He also based his findings on radiation measurements and soil analysis," the spokesman added.

Karlsch, born in 1957, is a trained economics historian with a degree from Berlin's Humboldt University, where he holds a chair in economic history. He is also a member of the Berlin Historical Commission and teaches at Berlin's Free University.

He has written numerous articles, essays and books, including "Uranian Secrets" in 2002 and "The Oil Factor" in 2003 about the history of German oil production.
Source
 
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nambo2

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For anyone that enjoys computer flight simulators, the very accurate Russian WW2 game, "Forgotten Battles" gives you the chance to fly these Nazi delta wings, and very fine planes they are too!

Nambo
 

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Ah, so 'dirty bomb' = 'atom bomb' now? I don't think so, unless 'depleted uranium anti-tank round' = 'nuclear weapon'...

Nah, I preferred the Victorian laser hoax story, it was more amusing.
 
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BBC News Online: Hitler 'tested small atom bomb'
14 March, 2005
By Ray Furlong
BBC News, Berlin


A German historian has claimed in a new book presented on Monday that Nazi scientists successfully tested a tactical nuclear weapon in the last months of World War II.

Rainer Karlsch said that new research in Soviet and also Western archives, along with measurements carried out at one of the test sites, provided evidence for the existence of the weapon.

"The important thing in my book is the finding that the Germans had an atomic reactor near Berlin which was running for a short while, perhaps some days or weeks," he told the BBC.

"The second important finding was the atomic tests carried out in Thuringia and on the Baltic Sea."

Mr Karlsch describes what the Germans had as a "hybrid tactical nuclear weapon" much smaller than those dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

'Bright light'

He said the last test, carried out in Thuringia on 3 March 1945, destroyed an area of about 500 sq m - killing several hundred prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates.

The weapons were never used because they were not yet ready for mass production. There were also problems with delivery and detonation systems.

"We haven't heard about this before because only small groups of scientists were involved, and a lot of the documents were classified after they were captured by the Allies," said Karlsch.

"I found documents in Russian and Western archives, as well as in private German ones."

One of these is a memo from a Russian spy, brought to the attention of Stalin just days after the last test. It cites "reliable sources" as reporting "two huge explosions" on the night of 3 March.

Karlsch also cites German eyewitnesses as reporting light so bright that for a second it was possible to read a newspaper, accompanied by a sudden blast of wind.

The eyewitnesses, who were interviewed on the subject by the East German authorities in the early 1960s, also said they suffered nose-bleeds, headaches, and nausea for days afterwards.

Karlsch also pointed to measurements carried out recently at the test site that found radioactive isotopes.

Scepticism

His book has provoked huge interest in Germany, but also scepticism.

It has been common knowledge for decades that the Nazis carried out atomic experiments, but it has been widely believed they were far from developing an atomic bomb.

"The eyewitnesses he puts forward are either unreliable or they are not reporting first-hand information; allegedly key documents can be interpreted in various ways," said the influential news weekly Der Spiegel.

"Karlsch displays a catastrophic lack of understanding of physics," wrote physicist Michael Schaaf, author of a previous book about Nazi atomic experiments, in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper.

"Karlsch has done us a service in showing that German research into uranium went further than we'd thought up till now. But there was not a German atom bomb," he added.

It has also been pointed out that the United States employed thousands of scientists and invested billions of dollars in the Manhattan Project, while Germany's "dirty bomb" was allegedly the work of a few dozen top scientists who wanted to change the course of the war.

Karlsch himself acknowledged that he lacked absolute proof for his claims, and said he hoped his book would provoke further research.

But in a press statement for the book launch, he is defiant.

"It's clear there was no master plan for developing atom bombs. But it's also clear the Germans were the first to make atomic energy useable, and that at the end of this development was a successful test of a tactical nuclear weapon."
Maybe, just maybe, the reason the Allies were so desperate to bring the War to an end, was because they feared what might happen if one of them got into the air over London? Just imagine what might have happened if the Nazis could have got a tactical nuke into the nosecone of a V2?

No wonder Churchill was contemplating the use of anthrax as a biological weapon... :eek!!!!:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4348497.stm
 

Jerry_B

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'Karlsch also cites German eyewitnesses as reporting light so bright that for a second it was possible to read a newspaper[...]'

Hmm - sometimes this very same thing is said about anomalous fireballs, etc., which to me always sounds somewhat suspect. One wonders why in such situations people suddenly decide to read a newspaper ;) And in this situation they do so for 'a second'.
 

dreeness

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It sounds like nonsense.
 

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dreeness said:
It sounds like nonsense.
Perhaps. Does this make it more credible, or are we looking at a forgery?

Drawing uncovered of 'Nazi nuke'

Historians working in Germany and the US claim to have found a 60-year-old diagram showing a Nazi nuclear bomb.

It is the only known drawing of a "nuke" made by Nazi experts and appears in a report held by a private archive.

The researchers who brought it to light say the drawing is a rough schematic and does not imply the Nazis built, or were close to building, an atomic bomb.

But a detail in the report hints some Nazi scientists may have been closer to that goal than was previously believed.

The report containing the diagram is undated, but the researchers claim the evidence points to it being produced immediately after the end of the war in Europe. It deals with the work of German nuclear scientists during the war and lacks a title page, so there is no evidence of who composed it.

One historian behind the discovery, Rainer Karlsch, caused a storm of controversy earlier this year when he claimed to have uncovered evidence the Nazis successfully tested a primitive nuclear device in the last days of WW II. A number of historians dismissed the claim out of hand.

The drawing is published in an article written for Physics World magazine by Karlsch and Mark Walker, professor of history at Union College in Schenectady, US.

'Mini-nuke'

The newly uncovered document was discovered after the publication of Karlsch's book, Hitlers Bombe (Hitler's Bomb), in which he made the nuclear test claim.

"The Nazis were far away from a "classic" atomic bomb. But they hoped to combine a "mini-nuke" with a rocket," Dr Karlsch told the BBC News website.

"The military believed they needed around six months more to bring the new weapon into action. But the scientists knew better how difficult it was to get the enriched uranium required."

The head of Nazi Germany's nuclear energy programme was the physicist Werner Heisenberg. Though he was highly accomplished in other areas of physics, Heisenberg failed to understand a key aspect of nuclear fission chain reactions.

Heisenberg's uncertainty

Some researchers say this led him to overestimate the amount of uranium - the so-called fissile material - required to build a nuclear bomb.

Hitler was desperate for weapons that would turn the tide of the war
However, the German report contains an estimate of slightly more than 5kg for the critical mass of a plutonium bomb. This is comparatively close to the real figure and may suggest some Nazi scientists had a much better grasp of nuclear fission than Heisenberg.

Professor Paul Lawrence Rose, author of a 1998 book about the German uranium programme, said he had no reason to believe the report was not genuine, but was dubious about the significance of critical mass detail.

"Though it's wonderful to find the 5kg figure written on the document, one has to be sceptical about the rationale for it. Even if it's true and [some scientists] did understand it, Heisenberg's group wouldn't have accepted it," Rose told the BBC News website.

He further speculated it was possible the author arrived at this figure by reading the Smyth Report into the development of the US atomic bomb, which was published in July 1945. But Karlsch and Walker reject this claim.

Bombshell claim

In Hitlers Bombe, Dr Karlsch suggests a team of scientists directed by the physicist Kurt Diebner, which was in competition with Heisenberg's group, tested a primitive nuclear device in Thuringia, eastern Germany, in March 1945.

Rose says that this is unlikely. Transcripts of conversations taped by MI6 when the scientists were held captive in England after the war show Diebner lacked the knowledge to have done this, he claims.

"Karlsch revealed some very important details in his book, but I can't go along with the picture he constructs with those details - of a Nazi nuclear test," said Professor Dieter Hoffmann of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

But in their Physics World article, Karlsch and Walker point to evidence of innovations made by Diebner's team, including a nuclear reactor design superior to that produced by Heisenberg's group.

"[Diebner] got the research papers from all other groups and he could control the information flux. Only a few scientists around Diebner knew about his bomb project. Heisenberg was not aware of it," Dr Karlsch explained.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4598955.stm
Here:
 

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Yithian

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One of the key arguments against the claim that the Nazis were but a footstep away from nuclear weapons is that whilst being held in a stately home (i forget which) and being bugged and monitored by MI6 Heisenberg and his team gave the game away: they remained silent on all matters scientific (no doubt realising it was their key to good treatment and a future life) until the news reports of the American nuclear strike on Hiroshima when they couldn't help but dissect the possibilities and probabilities between themselves. Apparently, they demonstarted a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology which led MI6 to conclude they weren't nearly as close as had been believed.

But could this behavour itself be a bluff - with them suspecting the ongoing surveilence? And, if so, to what end?
 
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