The Nazi Nuclear Program – How Close Were the Nazis to Developing an Atomic Bomb?

Nazis and the Bomb
by Mark Walker for TheVelvetRocket.com


This is a schematic rather than a blueprint for an actual atomic bomb, and its unknown creator may have drawn it after the war. But it supports evidence discussed in this article that the Germans sought to develop a nuclear weapon.

How close were the Nazis to developing an atomic bomb? The truth is that National Socialist Germany could not possibly have built a weapon like the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki. This was not because the country lacked the scientists, resources, or will, but rather because its leaders did not really try.

They were certainly trying to win the war. And they were willing to devote huge amounts of resources to building rockets, jet planes, and other forms of deadly and sometimes exotic forms of military technology. So why not the atomic bomb? Nazi Germany, it turns out, made other choices and simply ran out of time.

A nuclear program is born

In January of 1939, the German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann published the results of an historic experiment: after bombarding uranium with neutrons—neutrally charged particles—they found barium, an element roughly half the size of uranium. Their former colleague Lise Meitner, who a few months before had been forced to flee Germany and seek refuge in Sweden, and her nephew Otto Frisch realized that the uranium nucleus had split in two. These revelations touched off a frenzy of scientific work on fission around the world.

The German “uranium project” began in earnest shortly after Germany’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, when German Army Ordnance established a research program led by the Army physicist Kurt Diebner to investigate the military applications of fission. By the end of the year the physicist Werner Heisenberg had calculated that nuclear fission chain reactions might be possible. When slowed down and controlled in a “uranium machine” (nuclear reactor), these chain reactions could generate energy; when uncontrolled, they would be a “nuclear explosive” many times more powerful than conventional explosives.

Whereas scientists could only use natural uranium in a uranium machine, Heisenberg noted that they could use pure uranium 235, a rare isotope, as an explosive. In the summer of 1940, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, a younger colleague and friend of Heisenberg’s, drew upon publications by scholars working in Britain, Denmark, France, and the United States to conclude that if a uranium machine could sustain a chain reaction, then some of the more common uranium 238 would be transmuted into “element 94,” now called plutonium. Like uranium 235, element 94 would be an incredibly powerful explosive. In 1941, von Weizsäcker went so far as to submit a patent application for using a uranium machine to manufacture this new radioactive element.

Researchers knew that they could manufacture significant amounts of uranium 235 only by means of isotope separation. At first German scientists led by the physical chemist Paul Harteck tried thermal diffusion in a separation column. In this process, a liquid compound rises as it heats, falls as it cools, and tends to separate into its lighter and heavier components as it cycles around the column. But by 1941 they gave up on this method and started building centrifuges. These devices use centripetal force to accumulate the heavier isotopes on the outside of the tube, where they can be separated out. Although the war hampered their work, by the fall of the Third Reich in 1945 they had achieved a significant enrichment in small samples of uranium. Not enough for an atomic bomb, but uranium 235 enrichment nonetheless.


Heisenberg used this diagram during a secret lecture in February 1942. On the left is a schematic diagram of a “uranium machine” (nuclear reactor); on the right is a schematic of a nuclear explosive, either uranium 235 or plutonium.

Nearing a Nazi bomb

Uranium machines needed a moderator, a substance that would slow down the neutrons liberated by chain reactions. In the end, the project decided to use heavy water—oxygen combined with the rare heavy isotope of hydrogen—instead of water or graphite. This was not (as one of the many myths associated with the German nuclear weapons effort had it) because of a mistake the physicist Walther Bothe made when he measured the neutron absorption of graphite. Rather, it appeared that the Norsk Hydro plant in occupied Norway could provide the amounts of heavy water they needed in the first stage of development at a relatively low cost.

The Norwegian resistance and Allied bombers eventually put a stop to Norwegian production of heavy water. But by that time it was not possible to begin the production of either pure graphite or pure heavy water in Germany. In the end, the German scientists had only enough heavy water to conduct one or two large-scale nuclear reactor experiments at a time.

By the very end of the war, the Germans had progressed from horizontal and spherical layer designs to three-dimensional lattices of uranium cubes immersed in heavy water. They had also developed a nuclear reactor design that almost, but not quite, achieved a controlled and sustained nuclear fission chain reaction. During the last months of the war, a small group of scientists working in secret under Diebner and with the strong support of the physicist Walther Gerlach, who was by that time head of the uranium project, built and tested a nuclear device.


A diagram of the final lattice design of a nuclear reactor developed by two different research groups in Nazi Germany, one led by Kurt Diebner and the other by Werner Heisenberg

At best this would have been far less destructive than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Rather it is an example of scientists trying to make any sort of weapon they could in order to help stave off defeat. No one knows the exact form of the device tested. But apparently the German scientists had designed it to use chemical high explosives configured in a hollow shell in order to provoke both nuclear fission and nuclear fusion reactions. It is not clear whether this test generated nuclear reactions, but it does appear as if this is what the scientists had intended to occur.

Time runs out

All of this begs the question, why did they not get further? Why did they not beat the Americans in the race for atomic bombs? The short answer is that whereas the Americans tried to create atomic bombs, and succeeded, the Germans did not succeed, but also did not really try.

This can best be explained by focusing on the winter of 1941-1942. From the start of the war until the late fall of 1941, the German “lightning war” had marched from one victory to another, subjugating most of Europe. During this period, the Germans needed no wonder weapons. After the Soviet counterattack, Pearl Harbor, and the German declaration of war against the United States, the war had become one of attrition. For the first time, German Army Ordnance asked its scientists when it could expect nuclear weapons. The German scientists were cautious: while it was clear that they could build atomic bombs in principle, they would require a great deal of resources to do so and could not realize such weapons any time soon.

Army Ordnance came to the reasonable conclusion that the uranium work was important enough to continue at the laboratory scale, but that a massive shift to the industrial scale, something required in any serious attempt to build an atomic bomb, would not be done. This contrasts with the commitment the German leadership made throughout the war to the effort to build a rocket. They sunk enormous resources into this project, indeed, on the scale of what the Americans invested in the Manhattan Project.

Thus Heisenberg and his colleagues did not slow down or divert their research; they did not resist Hitler by denying him nuclear weapons. With the exception of the scientists working on Diebner’s nuclear device, however, they also clearly did not push as hard as they could have to make atomic bombs. They were neither heroes nor villains, just scientists working on weapons of mass destruction for Hitler’s Germany.


62 thoughts on “The Nazi Nuclear Program – How Close Were the Nazis to Developing an Atomic Bomb?

  1. This article’s analysis is reasonably correct yet there are still surprises to come out of the archives.

    For example a team of scientists from Vienna worked for Kammler’s SS Fuhrungsstab B-9 at Melk on what appears to have been both an enrichment plant and a reactor design which did not require heavy water.

    In March 1944 Harteck, Jensen and Heinz-Hocker ordered uranium for two reactors which there is no record were ever built.

    One the G-III appears to have involved 1.6t of light water as a moderator and using uranium fuel rods rather than cubes. The other, the G-II was a low temperature reactor with parrafin. moderator, cooled by Methyl Butene.

    Also Dr Harteck built two cenrtrifuge enrichment plants, Dr Bagge built an isotope sluice enrichment plant and Dr Martin appears to have developed a centrifuge which used heating & cooling to create convective currents within a centrifuge, by a method now associated with the Zippe centrifuge. No records of Dr Martin’s work exist in the public domain, but my personal hunch is that this was one of the two underground nuclear projects at Melk.

    There was also another project in Silesia often referred to as the Nazi Bell developed by Heinz Ewald to either breed Uranium from Thorium, or enrich Uranium in a homogeneous plasma field generated by mercury.

    Because we still don’t know what we don’t know about these other projects which remain cloaked in WW2 secrecy, it isn’t safe to say the Nazis fell short of enriching enough uranium for a bomb. Some ALSOS documents remain top secret to this day.

    Claims that a nuclear weapon was tested at Rugen in October 1944 and again at Ohrdruf in March 1945 leave open a question, did they or didn’t they?

    • Dear Mr Gunson, I read with interest you article on heavy water production in Germany during the war. My father worked in one which was built into an alpine mountain. I dont think anyone knows about this site now. Do you know anything about it. I would love to discover its exact location. Regards, Paul Strausa

      • In reply to Paul Strausa:

        Dear Paul, no I have not heard of your father’s facility however i would be interested to learn any further clues you could pass on please?

        I am aware from the son of Polish Jewish concentration camp prisoner from a camp near Hannover about a hidden underground Heavy Water facility there.

        What I am aware is that from mid 1942 the German firm BAMAG Meguin AG produced improved Pechkranz electrolysers to replace the existing ones at Vermork and then installed 9 further electroiysers at Saheim near vermork.

        Then The Germans under the leadership of Dr Wilhem Suess and Dr Paul Harteck had further Pechkranz electrolyzers installed at two Montecatini electrolytic plants in Italy, one near Merano and the other at Cotrone, in the Tyrol.

        Unless you have more specific information my guess would be that the alpine facility you mention is either at one of those two locations or if in Austria somewhere in rail contact with these two Italian plants.

        I do know the Nazis had a nuclear facility at Zell am See in the Tyrol not far from Hitler’s retreat at Berteschgarten. This was an SS facility. In September 1944 the SS wanted establish a Tritium facility for thermonuclear weapons. The Zell am See facility was controlled by the SS 13th division I understand.

        There is one other underground Heavy Water facility which Dr Karl Wirtz was involved with and that was in Silesia.

        Few people realise that after the sinking of the Hydro ferry at Lake Tinnso in Norway, claiming 618kg of Heavy Water (Deuterium) Dr Harteck had a further 6,200kg evacuated successfully to Germany by road from Saheim. In total from Norway during the war Germany repatriated 7,120kg of heavy water from Norway..

        I hope you will post again Paul with anything further you can tell us of your father’s experience?

        I think it is important to fill in the gaps in our historical record which were left blank for reasons of post war political sensitivity.

        Regards Simon

      • Hi Simon I was amazed by your response because I think he probably worked in Zell am See and this has massive personal significance for me. I will briefly try to tell you what i know and maybe you could add further and respond. I am very interested to piece together where my father was during the war, My father joined the german army in 1943 when food became scarce and in doing so ensured accommodation and food for his family, He had a wife and child. I believe he worked at this site probably as a carpenter, which was his trade. I suspect that everyone that worked there were in the army. Maybe you can tell me different. He told me that from above you would nt know the plant was there because it was built into the side of a mountain so it was never bombed. All the pipe work was gold to facilitate production. When bombing in the area rendered the plant inoperable he was then involved in the defence of hungary. When things got out of control and the german army was in disarray, he and some friends liberated an ambulance and drove it to the site to se if they could get their hands on the gold. However, when they got there it had all gone and they were told that the SS had taken it all – which fits in with your understanding. He was eventually captured by the americans and placed in a prisoner or war camp near Saltzburg – which fits in with the location I guess. I would be very interested to find out any more informations you may have about the plant how it was run etc. Is it possible to trace him there as a member of the military workforce? Look forward with great anticipation to your response. Paul

      • Dear Paul,

        Maybe I was mistaken which SS Division was there, perhaps it was the SS 8th Kavallerie Division-Florian at Fischorn castle. I do however recall reference elsewhere to the SS 13th Div. This castle was where Goering attempted to parley with the Americans in the last weeks of the War.


        The 8th Division was destroyed at Budapest in 1945 so I suspect your father was not in the Whermacht (army), but rather in the Waffen SS. Possibly he was too embarrassed to tell you everything?

        This regiment was also closely associated with Hitler through his SS adjutant SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein, therefore may have provided guards for Hitler’s retreat.

        I make a simple assumption here but possibly the tunnels you refer to were from beneath the castle.

        Otherwise I am not entirely sure however the Laboratory of Dr Ing. Mario Zippermayer was in the next town of Lofer.

        There is an excellent reference to Goering at Fischorn castle in 1945 by David Irving whose website may be unobtainable in Germany:

        Click to access Goering_better.pdf

        I suggest Paul that you try to locate veterans of this division or surviving family to research more for your own peace of mind. If you discover anything further please return and post it for all of us as i would be most interested.

        Can you recall if your father referred to a tunnel entrance beneath a castle (Zell am See) or was the entrance in an alpine meadow (Lofer)?

  2. This is great! The only problem is that united states would not have developed the bomb had it not been for Albert Einstein, A GERMAN, who wrote FDR a letter! Shit! We had to beat the germans by usin a german!

      • Yes but not so funny. Who persuaded Dr. Albert Einstein to write the letter having obtained a secret patent in 1934? Who was Ida Noddack, and when did Italy become an ally of Germany and its anti-semitic policies?
        Who made a joke about some fool destroying the universe and publicly said many times that talk of commercializing nuclear energy was nonsense.

    • As to the notion that Einstein who was a German writing a letter to FDR, which supposedly kick-started the Manhattan Project – this is only partially so.
      First of all, Einstein was a Jew from Germany, which is why he had to flee Germany and find new home in the USA.
      Secondly, he was urged by others – both physicists and non – to use his authority and this was an accepted point of view that US needs to be ahead of the Axis in develoment of a nuclear weapon.

      Thirdly, the fact that Germany fell behind in the A-bomb race was an extension of the NAZI policy in many aspects. Hence, it may be considered as a logiacl consequence of their policy rather than a historical quirck

      • Einstein played little role in developing the atomic bomb. He was approached by Teller and Szilard in 1939 to write to the Queen of Belgium whom Einstein regularly corresponded with to ask the the Belgian Government not to supply any Uranium from the Congo to Germany. In the event Belgium was invaded the following year and a huge stock was captured anyway. Einstein insisted that protocol demanded sending a letter first to the US State department for clearance to make such a request. Unexpectedly that resulted in an invitation to brief FDR. That is why Einstein declined the credit. He played a cameo role to Teller and Szliard.

        Germany did not fall behind USA. According to OSS intelligence reports from Zurich found in the Woods memorandum to Cordell Hull (see Hull papers) there were three underground nuclear tests conducted in the Schwabian Alps in July 1943, near Bisingen/Tubingen where much of the real A-bomb research occurred.

        In addition a sports diver using the email name PLouise (possibly Patricia Louise Grey of California) commented some years ago on an online forum that she had dived at a spot 2.5 nautical miles SW of Owls Head, Maine where she recovered the constructors plate from the wreck of a six engined aircraft. The plate came from Junkerswerke indicating it must have been a six engined Ju-390 which is known to have had the range to reach USA. Another contributor replied on the Twelve O’Clock High (TOUCH) forum revealing his family were living at Rockport Maine when a six engined aircraft came down in the sea about 17/18 September 1944. Four drowned Luftwaffe airmen were later recovered from the sea and the incident was hushed up. This has the hallmark of a failed attack on new York with an atomic weapon.

        According to a secretly recorded conversation between nuclear scientists at Farm Hall in 1945, it was mentioned USA had threatened Hitler with a nuclear attack on Dresden if he did not sue for peace within six weeks. In August Churchill warned Hitler via Romania’s Marshall Antonescu that the RAF would deliver anthrax spores all over Germany if a single German nuclear weapon was used against the British isles. Rainer Karlsch reveals in his book that in July 1944 Schumann was warned to halt all work on the Nazi atomic bomb.

        What happened next was the abortive bomb assassination attempt (Valkarie) against Hitler after which the SS took over the German Army’s atomic bomb project and used it in negotiations. Himler sought an armistice with the western allies so that Germany could continue to fight the Soviets. This would have contravened the Grand alliance signed at San Francisco in 1942 (known as the United Nations) however it seems USA did enter some form of understanding leading to a secret peace deal with the SS.

        The Nazis were about 2 years ahead of the Manhattan Project but were threatened with Anthrax attacks before they could prepare a credible stockpile. The German intention was to arm V-2 rockets with 0.5 kiloton yield warheads. A declassified decrypted diplomatic signal from the Japanese embassy in Stockholm in December 1944 referred to the German “Uranium atom splitting weapon” of devastating effect.

        The problem is that history has been written wrongly to conceal US double dealing behind the Soviets back in 1944. From the American and British point of view they were trying to buy time and stave off a nuclear attack on England in 1944. This as far as my research leads me is the true story of how WW2 ended.

      • Simon, regarding your reply to “Timothy”, I find your “alternate history” to be very convincing, and your conclusions dovetail quite well with my own—except that you fill in many of the blanks and connect many of the dots between the general conclusions / suspicions I had arrived at independent of your own, obviously more comprehensive research. Your information about the crash of the six-engined Junkers aircraft is explosive. I had read about this on another website (one of yours, actually) but was not aware that anyone had actually dived the wreckage, much less retrieved any of it and brought it back to the surface. I would LOVE to see your sources, ie, the forums on which the people you mentioned (the diver and the eyewitness family) were writing. If you’d care to disclose that information I’d be grateful.

        I had never heard of the underground tests. BTW, I saw the MAGIC intercept you refer to on this site at the top of the discussion thread on another site. I actually went to the National Archives, myself, a couple of months ago, in part on a mission to find that specific document. I found it and photographed it and posted it on the discussion thread. I also developed my own lines of thought and research starting from that point, and reached many of the same conclusions that you have—again, just not with as much specific detail about which SS figures were doing what, and where. I find your thesis quite compelling and find that SS takeover of the end of war ship of state in Germany (the SS running things and not really Hitler himself, anymore) is a very plausible idea. Quite similar to what went on in Japan, at least with the Japanese atomic bomb program on the mainland at the RIKEN Institute, where Army Lt. Colonel (and nuclear physicist) Tatsusaburo Suzuki took direct control of Project NI and booted the previous project head, Dr. Yoshio Nishina, to the curb.

        Anyway, yes, I also have suspected for some time now that the US was cutting deals with certain high ranking Germans / SS / Nazis, and that Germany stabbed Japan in the back by trading uranium in some form to the US—uranium that had been bound for Japan but instead probably ended up exploding over Japan in the Little Boy bomb. Lt. Col. John Landsdale (“a notorious old spook”, to use Robert Wilcox’s description of him) maintained prior to his death that the uranium cargo of German submarine U-234 was taken directly to Oak Ridge for processing and assembly into Little Boy. Naturally, the ahem, “mainstream” largely dismisses his on-camera, for the record testimony in this matter, but I don’t and I know you don’t.

        So, the picture becomes: Germany has at least a nominal nuclear weapon capability but is deterred from using it by England’s Doomsday device, Churchill’s anthrax bioweapon. Germany realizes it doesn’t have enough nukes to gamble that it can obliterate England (along with any US forces based there or, after the invasion, on the Continent) without being all but annihilated in return by anthrax. So, they have the bomb or some version of it, but can’t make enough of them, fast enough, to win the war. Meanwhile there’s the co-operation with Japan, including at least two uranium delivery missions by submarine that we know of thus far. The last of these missions is heading for Japan when Germany surrenders. Thus, the question now becomes, is post-surrender Germany more likely to benefit from an Allied Occupation, or from risking everything on Japan’s gotterdamerung vs US Operation OLYMPIC in November, 1945? Should Germany send their uranium to Japan and hope that Japanese nukes win the war against the US in the Pacific—and that as a condition of that victory, Germany’s occupation by the Allies is removed—or does Germany stab Japan in the back, essentially throwing in with the Allies in the first act of the Cold War in part as a message to the Soviets? Obviously, if this scenario is correct, Germany or at least West Germany figured (rightly in my view) it would benefit more by allying itself with the US against the Soviets than it would by backing the Japanese with perhaps enough uranium for a couple of bombs—weapons which at best would have caused mass casualties against OLYMPIC but which would not have been enough to overturn the ultimate Allied victory, not could they realistically have been delivered on target against a US city except, perhaps, by kamikaze submarine. Highly unlikely. Thus, Japan, like its two representatives on board U-234, is thrown overboard, the uranium goes to the US, Japan is nuked, West Germany settles into the Allied orbit, the Soviets get the message, The End.

    • Albert Einstein played no role whatsoever in developing the Atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project, If you believe otherwise please cite his role and a source?

  3. Interesting, but not at all convincing or reassuring. Not trying to do something and running out of time do not amount to impossibility. If Japan hadn’t bombed Pearl Harbor, they would have had more time, and they could have changed their priorities at any time. All it would have taken is one persuasive person to explain the potential of the bomb to Hitler in a way that got him excited. Whether or not the program was a rational use of limited resources would then have become irrelevant.

  4. Hitler was notorious for getting excited over Project A, not seeing results quickly enough, and moving money to Project B. Sometimes the denial of funds to a certain project in the Nazi bureaucracy was due to political / personal reasons. The probability that Germany could have created a nuclear bomb before 1945 was non-existant; let’s all be hopeful about that.

  5. This is a side-trail… Albert Einstein, born a Jew, left Germany and renounced his citizenship to become a person without a country, or you could say a citizen of the world among humanity. Only some time after that did he come to the United States to live. Still much later, he decided to become a citizen of the United States, which you could view as a great compliment to what the American system is meant to be.

  6. ‘We had to beat the Germans by using a German.’. That is only partly true, as others have pointed out. The Nazis did not consider the Jews to be German. The Nuremberg laws of 1935 revoked Jew’s citizenship, From 1935 on German Jews were no longer citizens of Germany under German law at that time. Einstein had earlier abandoned his citizenship in 1896 but regained it in 1914 when teaching in Berlin. Einstein renounced his German citizenship a second time in 1933 when he left the country for Switzerland. He became an American citizen in 1940.

  7. the bomb came from nazi germany .in theory, it was developed in Grotinger university where openhaimer went to study back in 1926.

  8. The downfall of the drawing displayed above is that the mechanism itself would not work as Plutonium will not explode with a simple gun barrel detonation method. The fission of plutonium is so fast that the fissile material would blow itself apart faster than it could attain critical mass.

    The second reason this drawing is fake is that Nazi scientists never called Element 94 Plutonium. German scientists always referred to Plutonium as either Element 94 or as Eka-Osmium.

    Sorry but the drawing itself is just a fake

  9. Worth adding about the diagram above that Nazi scientists called Plutonium Eka-Osmium and knew nothing of the name Plutonium given to the element by Manhaatan Project scientists.

    The real Nazi atomic bomb is found in the patents of Schumann and Trinks for a bi-conical tactical nuclear weapon with lithium liner hollow charge explosives. In the act of exploding two hollow charges against one another with a fissile uranium 233 target between them, molten slugs of Lithium were smashed against Lithium Deuteride coating the 233U. This caused a Plasma Pinch and the rush of neutrons which resulted plus the intense compression ensured highly efficient chain reaction.The yield however was below 1 kiloton. the warhead weighed just 5 kilograms.

  10. Mr. Gunson, I am guessing you have read Rainer Karlsch’s book Hitler’s Bomb, or else have access to many of his sources. I am familiar with the design you are discussing, but thought there was some question as to whether it actually originated during WWII or shortly after it, as if memory serves the patent to which you are referring was not registered until around 1954, and that (ironically) in France. I am told that the use of U233 would have been because it was easier to produce in bomb-usable quantities from thorium, which was in relative abundance in Europe. This, as opposed to trying to produce U235 from U238. Regarding a gun-type detonation for plutonium, I am told by an acquaintance of mine who has contacts at Los Alamos that a gun-type plutonium bomb is now feasible. During WWII it was probably not, though I’m sure you are aware that the Manhattan Project did produce a number of bomb casings for what would have been called the “Thin Man” bomb, which was a plutonium gun-type design. Thin Man was abandoned in favor of the implosion method “Fat Man”.

    Returning to the Schumann – Trinks weapon, is it your opinion that this is what was tested at Ohrdurf? And, was the yield lower because U233, in general, while still usable as an explosive, nevertheless is not as efficient as U235? Or was it more due to the small size of the device? And was that small size what the Germans set out to do from the start, or where they forced into a smaller weapon by scarcity of materials (in particular, of weapons grade uranium of any isotope)?

    • Hi Will please just call me Simon. I have not been back here since posting so sorry to neglect you. I am not a nuclear physicist, just a passionate historian. I have read portions of Hitlers Bombe, but I struggle to translate. It is a huge shame it is not also printed in English.

      As I understand it Dr Walter Trinks a ballistics expert left some 40+ wartime patent applications in his personal papers which Karlsh had access to. Schumann went to the French after the War and taught them the principle of Third generation nuclear weapons (ie boosted fission). This is the same principle adopted by Pakistan, India, Isreal etc.

      The Answer is yes I do believe at least two nuclear weapons were tested at Bug Isthmus in October 1944 one at night and another later on 12 October 1944 in daylight witnessed by Luigi Romersa and Rugen resident Elisabeth Mestlin. These were undoubtedly the Schumann Trinks hollow charge device.

      This design features a spherical Lithium-6 shell with a vacuum cavity. at the very centre was positioned a small Uranium 233 target coated by a layer of Beryllium oxide and Lithium Deuteride.

      When molten Lithium and Deuterium collide at high pressure and temperature they form X-rays which cause a huge neutron flux through the Uranium which replicates the effect of a critical mass.

      The nuclear weapon detonated at Ohrdruf in March 1945 however was an adaptation of Dr Ing Mario Zippermayer’s coal dust/liquid oxygen bomb for the SS as part of Operation Hexenkessel. SS Standartenfuhrer Dr Alfred Klemm added radioactive isotopes to Zippermayer’s bomb which increased it’s previous blast radius by factor of ten or more. The isotopes which appear to be added included Uranium dust and a pinkish waxy liquid. I know the SS worked on manufacture of Trittium late in 1944 so I suspect the Ohrdruf bomb had Trittium added. I suspect it used the Fuel Air Effect to gain the compression required to detonate fusion in Trittium.

      The Rugen bomb and the Ohrdruf bomb were two different designs.

      The Rugen bomb appears from secretly recorded conversations by Dornberger in a British prison camp to be related to an intention to arm the V-2 rocket with it.

      The real problem with the Schumann Trinks bomb is the difficulty in scaling up the compression. Deuterium must be compressed uniformly 100-300 times normal density to initiate fusion. The problems rise exponentially the larger the target to be imploded.

      The H-bomb however scales up the problem in a manner which the Nazis did not explore. Hope that helps. I will return to answer more later. cheers

      • Thank you for the highly informative reply, Simon! My initial response is that it looks like they took a typically “German” approach to their bomb design, which is to say, they over-engineered it. In other words they seem to have wanted to leap right over what became first generation atomic fission bombs and move directly to second or even third generation designs (as we now know them), which included some form of nuclear fusion. However, there may have been other factors influencing the direction of their R&D. For example: the widespread and increasingly catastrophic damage to Germany’s industrial infrastructure that was being done by that point in the way by the Allies’ round the clock strategic bombing. Perhaps this meant that more “mundane” materials such as highly enriched uranium were not available or would not be available in sufficient quantities to enable enough bombs to be fielded to turn the tide of the War.

        From my point of view, there are a number of problems with what is generally thought to be the “conventional history” of the end of WWII. I have some strong suspicions about some—not all, but some—aspects of that history as it has come down to us. The SS bomb programs are part of what causes me to question some of the standard narrative. I would welcome the opportunity to correspond directly with you about some of this, if you are willing to do so.

        Meanwhile, again, I thank you for your reply, sir! Keep up the great work!

      • One other question comes to mind after re-reading your post. You say that Schumann went to France after the War and basically taught the French “third generation nuclear weapons” or boosted fission bombs. Seems to me I read somewhere that France built the most powerful “pure fission” bombs ever built, with a yield somewhere in the 60kt range. I am guessing this is what you are discussing here? Not to get too far off the topic of the WWII German weapons, but could you give a brief summary of what constitutes second and third generation atomic or nuclear weaponry? And are you following any kind of formal definitions (such as the Manhattan Project’s definition of the explosive power a bomb had to achieve before it was considered a true atomic weapon), or is your description of “third generation” weaponry based on your own broad survey of the history of these bombs?

    • Hi Will addressing the issue of Uranium 233, this was advocated by Heisenberg at the Harnak Haus conference of june 1942 where the second Uranverin group of relevant scientists was formed. These were a gathering of civil scientists to work on Uranium research. Karlsch uncovered this fact from previously classified KGB files. Heisenberg referred to three methods to developing fissile material for a bomb; enriching U235, Element 94 (Plutonium) via a reactor, or “harvesting” Protactinium.

      Protactinium is scarce in nature. It is harvested by bombarding Thorium 232 with radiation. Thorium in nature is 99.8% pure Th232, the remainder is harmless Th230. Protactinium 233 forms over an average half life of 22 minutes, then decays over 27 days by itself from Beta decay into virtually pure bomb grade Uranium 233.

      If you chemically separate Thorium from Protactinium within 24 hours there will not be any contamination from Pa231, which after re-uptaking another neutron turns into Pa232. This then decays to U232.

      U232 is much more spontaneously fissile and in mixture with U233 anything over 0.5% renders it useless for a bomb. It ruins the U233 because it heats the core through Alpha emissions degrading the explosive capability, it becomes to radioactive through Gamma emissions to handle and also risks spontaneous pre-detonation. In reality you need zero ppm U233 to make a worthwhile fissile material.

      America struggled after the war to transmute Protactinium into U233 because it used nuclear reactors which have several drawbacks leading to U232 contamination.

      The Nazis used cyclotrons (particle accelerators) and had access to them at Paris, Vienna, Copehagen and built one at Heidelberg. They also built at least four Tokamak type Stellerators, one of which was captured at Bisingen by ALSOS. These could transmute Thorium into Protactinium and even Plutonium from Uranium 238 on more powerful machines.

      So back to your question Will, yes much easier than enriching U235 and much cheaper too. They did not need a huge Manhattan project. U233 has some drawbacks from U232, but these can be avoided. If so then U233 has all the properties and advantages of Plutonium 239.

      It has one more advantage over Uranium 235 which is that in purity of 99.8% which is acheivable with cyclotrons, the critical mass drops to something like a kilogram. For highly enriched U235 (93%) the lowest critical mass is about 54kg. The use of boosted fission also permits sub critical amounts to be detonated.

  11. Also, I read in Carey Sublette’s excellent article “Introduction to Nuclear Weapons Design” on the FAS website that the Schumann – Trinks design was very similar to a detonation mechanism that was used by the United States in some of its weapons. In the US it was known as “the Swan Device”. Sublette claims that no nation has ever fielded a bomb that used U233 for fuel, but I know of at least one US bomb test that used U233. This was a mid-1950s detonation that was part of “Operation Teacup”, so called because the goal was to produce much smaller weapons than those previously built. In any case I am guessing that the WWII German bomb was in fact a U233 device. It would seem that the detonation method used by the Germans works at least as efficiently (if not more so) than any other method, or at least, than any other method of that time. I am not particularly well versed in the state of the art as it stands at present, and so am curious if this particular path is still being pursued. One of the great advantages of the Schumann – Trinks / Swan Device design is that it relies on simple heat to release huge numbers of neutrons from lithium, a substance that begins fissioning at just 900 degrees C. German weapons scientists knew this about lithium as long ago as the 1920s, which is when they achieved considerable success in producing exceptionally high heat through the use of hollow charge explosives. I can’t remember just now where I read about this, and whether it was the German Army or Navy that was doing the experiments, but it seems to me they were able to produce heat well into the thousands of degrees C just with chemical explosives—obviously well above the fission threshold of lithium. Thus the chain of research that led to the Schumann – Trinks design.

    • Will the methodology of the Swan Device was based on the Schumann Trinks device but instead of coating a fissile target with deuteride, imploded Plutonium into a cavity with a small amount of Trittium (hydrogen-3)

      Trittium is yields tenfold more neutrons than deuterium. Otherwise to my knowledge nobody now bothers with Uranium 233 because of it’s inherent problems. Nuclear scientists will not really discuss the advantages but often talk inversely about the risks of nuclear proliferation from pure U233.

      Yes the compression of molten hot lithium-6 into Deuterium generates a flash of X-rays which generates a neutron flux through sub-critical fissile targets. Thus with this method even Low enriched uranium or reactor grade plutonium contaminated by Plutonium 240 can still be detonated. that is also the reason why scientists do not want to reveal how Third Generation boosted fission works. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were big crude First Generation nuclear weapons with designs which are now out of favour.

  12. Hey, Simon, I was aware that sub-critical amounts of fissile material could be detonated but prior to reading your information about Schumann-Trinks I did not know exactly how that was accomplished. Essentially this method (among others) creates the same or very similar conditions to what you find in the heart of the first American weapons—but it does so via a completely different route. In order to make fissile material explode, what you need is a supercritical overload of neutrons in the same, highly compressed space as the bomb fuel. Instead of using the uranium or plutonium itself to provide the overload of neutrons that triggers the explosion, the methods you are discussing simply use other materials (deuteride, tritium) that, when stimulated in a particular way, spontaneously “hemorrhage” huge numbers of neutrons in the same immediate locale as the bomb fuel—thereby causing detonation, just via a different triggering mechanism.

    Regarding U-233, I was wondering what it was about most production methods that caused it to be less desireable, in some ways, than U-235. I was not aware that it was U-232 as a decay product of proactinium that typically contaminates U-233. A couple of questions occur to me. First, is it the U-232 that emits the alpha and gamma radiation that makes U-233 so hard to use, or is it the U-233 itself, or both elements? Carey Sublette’s extremely thorough article has an extensive section on U-233, and he stated that the problems with contamination from other elements could be solved, but that even after removing these elements, U-233 was still more fiercely radioactive than U-235 or P-239 and thus fabricating a bomb from it was more difficult—though not impossible, as Operation Teacup proved. Is it your understanding that bomb fabrication with U-233 was not pursued any further than Teacup (as far as we know) because the American methods of U-233 production—presumably breeder reactors—left too many impurities in the finished product, or was it because the U-233 even after impurities were removed is dirtier and more dangerous to work with and not worth the trouble when enough U-235 and P-239 was available? As for the German methods, yes, cyclotrons could be used to produce U-233 from Th-232, and I know that the Manhattan Project used cyclotrons to produce “exceptionally pure” P-239, but only in laboratory quantities. Are you saying that the German methods were able to produce more than laboratory quantities of U-233? Were these methods truly suitable for mass production of bomb fuel? Any specific information about the amount that actually was produced, and about the amounts that could have been produced in an industrial setting via the German methods? And, why would the proactinium-231 need to be separated (I presume via chemical means) from the U-233 within 24 hours after being created from Th-232? I’m guessing because proactinium-231 must have a very short half life, and thus you have to get rid of it quick, before it goes through the decay chain you describe and ends up as U-232. Is U-232 contamination the only drawback to U-233, or are there other problems? Sublette was fairly enthusiastic about U-233’s properties as potential bomb fuel, and I agree with him. It is closer to plutonium in its properties and of course, like plutonium, is much easier to mass produce than is U-235. So it would seem on the surface of things to be a much more logical route to take, assuming the impurities can be removed to a sufficient extent.

    Having said all of that, the ability of modern weapons to detonate much smaller than critical mass amounts of fissile material makes this line of thinking not irrelevant, certainly, but less relevant than it once was. Basically any kind of bomb fuel will do if you want a tactical or small strategic weapon and have sufficient knowledge of physics, chemistry and metallurgy, unless you are going for a top of the line weapon, ie, 100kt or more. In that case the engineering must be far more precise and complex. But not for smaller weapons. BTW, India is almost certainly taking a close look at weaponization of U-233 because of their plans to utilize the thorium fuel cycle in many of their nuclear power plants.

    • First of all will just send me a friend request and an introductory note on facebook to “sy gunson” if you want further communication.

      No it is not quite as simple as generating a large neutron flux… that is half the story. The other half is you have to also compress the deuterium at the same time by a factor of 100-300 times normal (variation according to different factors). Because heavy hydrogen takes up a lot of volume you get a huge rush of neutrons (deuteron beam) but to get any worthwhile yield requires igniting some compact fissile material too (ie Uranium or Plutonium) The density of Uranium allows a smaller warhead.

      First Generation nukes include the Hiroshima Mk.1 bomb and Nagasaki Mark III bomb. They are first generation because they rely on attaining natural critical mass. Starting with the mark IV bomb in 1948 there was a shift towards boosting with Trittium inside a hollow sphere of barely subcritical Plutonium called a Christie core, but still in essence a reliance on critical mass.

      Second generation was the use of conventional Plutonium implosion A-bomb to trigger a Hohlraum (a long tapered tube to amplify a plasma shockwave in deuterium) hence the name Hydrogen bomb. This was the so called “super” design which Teller worked on at Berkley from 1942.

      The next step was in 1952 with development of fusion boosted fission of sub-critical fissile masses. This drew from the tutoring of Dr Kurt Diebner head of the WW2 German Army Ordnance A-bomb project which fostered the Schumann Trinks weapon. There are many variation of this theme now and these weapons can substitute uranium or plutonium for the fissile mass and the isotopic purity is not a critical factor because the rush of neutrons at detonation is so great it doesn’t matter.

      The Schumann Trinks weapon imploded Lithium-6 towards a deuteride coated Uranium 233 target. With Deuterium the neutrons are emitted away from the plasma striking it, therefore are directional and can be directed at the Uranium.

      With Trittium the neutrons emitted are multi-directional (ie in all directions) therefore the best method to capture trittium neutrons is to enclose the trittium in a hollow shell of Plutonium etc. .

      Sublette’s comments about U233 contamination with respect are still based around harvesting Protatcinium 233 from a breeder reactor. there the issue is that Pa233 is formed in just 22 minutes H/L however if fetile thorium is not removed and separated within 25 hours Thorium 231 may be formed and start uptaking another neutron to become U232.

      The other way U232 forms is the neutron decay of Uranium 233 back into Uranium 232, in each case from extra unwanted radiation activity. the extra radioactivity in a nuclear reactor cannot be prevented.

      In a cyclotron (particle accelerator) however the exposure is limited and chemical separation within 24 hours will prevent formation of U232 altogether, thus one can obtain either zero or near zero parts contamination per million. in zero ppm contaminated U233 the material is no more difficult than weapons grade Plutonium 239.

      Even in the purest U233 eventually over decades indigenous U232 will begin to form, but this is managable.

      The German scientist prof Baron Manfred von Ardenne Ardenne believed, that he could enrich 1.5 g Uranium 235 up to 15% in an hour with his Betatron. US Calutron operation for Manhattan produced 100 g daily of 10% enriched. Uranium 235.

      In terms of U233 you are not enriching rather radiating Thorium, from hints i have read i would expect half a kilogram (1lb) per day in the right apparatus was possible. If chemically separated from the Thorium immedfiately it would naturall decay into uranium 233 over a month or so. You could repeat the same process each day. The nazis were far more interested in Thorium seized from France in 1944 and monazite sands from the Black Sea coast than they were in enriching Uranium 235.

      India and Pakistan now both use third generation nukes to trigger H-bombs in the missiles. If you take a small third generation boosted fission nuke to ignite a secondary Hohlraum filled with deuterium there is no real limit to the megaton yield. The W78/mk12 warhead used on the minuteman III missile uses Lithium/Deuterium boosted fission to detonate a Hydrogen bomb secondary to obtain 330kt yield.

      I have to read the rest of your post to check what i have failed to answer but none of this technology except the H-bomb secondary was beyongd the nazis in WW2. The Germans wanted a small yield warhead for the V-2 rocket originally. The SS somehow adapted Zippermayer’s coal dust Fuel Air Explosive to create a nuke towards the end which had a 4.5 kilometre blast radius. Prior to this the same Zippermayer bomb using just coal dust and liquid oxygen had a blast radius of just 600m when tested in August 1943.

    • U233 contaminated by U232 is hard to use because of several issues. Spontaneous fission of U232 can pre-initiate a nuclear explosion causing a fizzle where the U232 burns before a chain reaction can occur in the U233. Next issue is the alpha emissions from U232 act to heat the core which decreases the neutron density, thus again degrading yield. Next issue is gamma emissions which make the warhead too dangerous to handle. U233 with 0 ppm U232 will emit less Gamma radiation than weapons grade Plutonium. The more contamination the more Gamma emissions. With 0.4% U232 contamination after fifteen years the Gamma emissions will be 38rad/hour at one metre from the core. The Americans used a Molten Salt Breeder Reactor and fast chemical separation of the nuclear waste however even this method was not quick enough because extra neutron bombardment leading to Thorium 231 or through neutron decay of U233 directly to U232 could not be eliminated. Cyclotrons avoid that issue. It should also be noted that a terrorist bomb built from U233 would shine like a beacon into space from Gamma emissions and make it detectable by satelite. It certainly could not be smuggled unless the U233 were exceptionally pure and well claded.

  13. PS Just reread part of Sublette’s work. He lists the nominal critical mass of U-233 as being about 16kg, U-235 as 48kg, and P-239 as 10.5kg. Again, U-233 is much closer to P-239 in this regard than it is to U-235. When you mention one kg in association with U-233, I assume you mean that as little as one kg of highly enriched U-233 could theoretically be detonated using certain techniques. Sublette mentions the one kg figure in relation to plutonium in this passage:

    “Using an advanced flying plate design it is possible to compress a 1 kg plutonium mass sufficiently to produce a yield in the 100 ton range. This design has an important implication on the type of fissile material that can be used. The high compression implies fast insertion times, while the low mass implies a low Pu-240 content. Taken together this means that a much higher Pu-240 content than normal weapon grade plutonium could be used in this type of design without affecting performance. In fact ordinary reactor grade plutonium would be as effective as weapon grade material for this use. Fusion boosting could produce yields exceeding 1 kt with this system.”

    Keeping in mind the fact that the nominal critical mass of U-233 is slightly larger than that of P-239, my guess is that it would take a bit more than one kg of U-233 to go off, using any of the various exotic techniques developed since WWII to detonate sub-critical amounts of fissile material. That’s only a guess.

    In any case, back to the German weapons R&D during WWII. In theory, a much smaller amount of U-233 would have been needed in order to fabricate a bomb than the amoung of U-235 or P-239 used by the Americans, provided the Germans had anything approaching the advanced engineering that would have been necessary. The Schumann-Trinks approach seems to lend credence to the idea that WWII German engineering was advanced enough in principle to achieve detonation of a sub-critical mass of bomb fuel. I am not as clear on the other method(s) explored by Diebner, Zippermeyer and Klemm. I had never before now heard of Operation Hexenkessel. Can you recommend some books and other sources where I can dig deeper into all this? Loved the bit about the KGB files; I was aware that Karlsch had been sniffing around in Russian files. He is one of the very few Westerners who has ever managed that. Now that the climate in Russia has turned more nationalistic again, I doubt that such files are still available for examination by anyone other than Putin and his spooks.

    • Wow a lot to read Will and assimilate before i can answer properly. Regards Sublette mentioning 16kg you have to be aware that Sublette works off US experience with Uranium 233 bred in a breeder nuclear reactor using Thorium 232 mixed with Uranium 238. In such a reactor you can only load up to 7% Thorium before you smother the chain reaction therefore the chemically extracted Uranium 233 also had uranium 238 mixed with it.

      That is why the critical mass in that case is 16kg see Kang & Von Hippel (U232 and the proliferation resistance of U233 in spent fuel)

    • In Russia one has to pay a Russian national as an archive researcher to find the information much like I personally can’t research US files because i am a British person living in New Zealand, however any American can access those US files via the Freedom of Information Act. I suspect one could still search KGB files if one did so appropriately. In both Russia and USA one also has to identify the document to them. Neither country will volunteer where to find something.

      Another good book is “Two Against Hitler,” by Frank von Hippel.” He discloses for example that Erwin Respondek a German Reichstag Treasury official secretly leaked details of the Nazi Atomic project to Sam Woods in Switzerland until he was arrested by the Gestapo. He was freed from his death sentence when the SS took over the nuclear project and sent to parley with the Allies.

      For example Respondek disclosed to the OSS the three underground tests in July 1943: Woods memorandum pp.18-19 Hull papers. Series of earthquakes in Schwabian alps 4th 14th and 22 July 1943 at 9 degrees east, 48.2 degrees North, close to Bisingen where German atomic scientists had relocated. (1943 intelligence reports of Woods in NA, RG 59)

      It takes a great deal of scratching around to find these facts and recognise patterns in them.

      Earlier you replied to me about a post by Timothy. I mentioned the Ju-390. If you found my website on the Ju-390 go back there and you will notice at the foot of the home page (I think) was my email address.

      If you want to read the conversation about the Ju-390 wreck off Owl’s head then Google the following: (uboat.net owls head) and it should lead directly to a conversation by David M Brown who now lives at Burlington Vermont. He has a collector’s shop called the Gold Mine or similar. The person “plouise” who dived the plane wreck might be Patricia Louise Grey of California who owns a furniture business.

      You mentioned elsewhere about Carter Hydrick’s theory that Uranium was used from the uboat U-234 for the Hiroshima bomb. I don’t subscribe to that theory, but it is interesting to read some of the information there. rteired Japanese Maj General Touransouke Kawashima disclosed on NHK TV in 1982 that only 2000kg of Uranium oxide ever reached Japan.

      In October 1944 Japan received the plans for a Schumann Trinks weapon from Germany and immediately abandoned efforts to enrich uranium 235. Thousands of koreans were send into the mountains to prospect for Thorium (Monazite). At Konan (modern Hungnam) the japanese built a refinery to separate Thorium from the ore and on a hill nearby they built a powerful cyclotron for harvesting Protactinium 233. When the Soviets landed by parachute on 24 August 1944 they captured the facility intact and for several years after until a railway was built to Vladivostok they shipped out cases of uranium 233 by submarine. This is disclosed by the declassified letters of Maj General Shytkov to Stalin 1945-1948.

      I have read a document called “German Technical Aid to Japan; a Survey, dated June 15, 1945, , held by the Combined Arms Research Library at Fort Levenworth, ref# 3 1695 00561 5885. In that document at Chapter 14, page 177, it states Japanese POW learned in November 1944 from his Platoon commander (in the Philippines) that plans for the “German Atom bomb” were provided to Japan 1944. That the weapon worked on the principle of smashing atoms and the warhead was the size of a matchbox with a 1000 metre blast radius. The radio man from U-234 Wolfgang Hirschfeld also said before his death in 2003 that it was generally believed by the crew of U-2345 that Japan had already test blasted a nuclear weapon before they departed Germany. This tends to corroborate the MAGIC decrypt in the diplomatic signal from Stockholm. The Magic decrypt mentioned a 5kg warhead.

      A sphere of Uranium 233 weighing 5kg has a radius of 3.87cm or about 6.2cm diameter which is about the size of a matchbox.

      • I have to correct my own post above since 6.2cm is the radii of a 16 kg sphere of U233 sorry for that. I am working off a public internet facility.I am tripping over my own data and confusing myself.

    • With Uranium 233 bred in a nuclear reactor which is the American method, the fertile Thorium to be transmuted is loaded into a Plutonium breeder reactor with Uranium 238 at a ratio of 7% Thorium. Anymore and the Thorium will smother the chain reaction by absorption. It is this 238U mixed with the Thorium which degrades the critical mass of 233U taken from the process. Thus the result is not 99.8% isotopically pure 233U but a much degraded admixture.

      Critical mass is an obsolete concept if one uses fission boosting by Deuterium, or Tritium, or Lithium-6 Deuteride reactions to swamp the fissile target with an excess of neutrons.

      Will I keep scanning for your messages. If you have my email just send me a fresh message as I would be happy to chat,

  14. Simon, a couple more questions, if you don’t mind. Is it your belief that the 1945 German test detonation was the result of Project Hexenkessel, ie, a fuel-air bomb that was somehow boosted by the addition of some sort of fissile material to chemical explosives? This would have been on an entirely different track than the Schumann-Trinks design you have discussed in other places. A fuel-air bomb augmented by this sort of qusti-atomic approach would leave very little in the way of radioactive residue behind—which might explain both the apparent lack of radioactivity found by recent investigations at the test site, and also the fact that two eyewitnesses thought they were witnessing an atomic bomb blast. Perhaps what they were really seeing was a fuel-air bomb that might or might not have been made more powerful by the addition of fissile elements. If so, we would be talking about a very interesting approach to a massive detonation, and one that would also have been dramatically less expensive to produce—though how practical or deliverable or mass producible such a bomb would have been, I don’t know. It’s hard to say, as well, just how powerful the Hexenkessel – Zipprmayr bomb was in terms of its explosive yield. Certainly it would have been much stronger than any “conventional” chemical explosive of its day, but I can’t believe, at least at this point, that it would have approached the firepower of a true supercritical fission bomb.

    Anyway, just thinking out loud here. By the way, I sent you an email after finding your email address on your site about the Ju-399 and hope you received the message. Thanks again for all of the excellent information you’ve shared here.

    • No, I don’t mind at all, it’s a subject which fascinates me…
      Yes Hexenkessel (translated: Devil’s Cauldron) was an entirely different track from the hollow charge nuke tested at Ohrdruf which was tested twice in October 1944.

      The Schumann Trinks weapon according to a witness had a fireball 100 yards across which I have seen this estimated as being equivalent to 0.814 kilotons. Germany was intending to use this warhead for the V-2 rocket, but were forced to abandon this plan.

      The bi-conical implosion warhead developed by Schumann & Trinks is what we now call a third generation, boosted fission warhead. If you want to learn more about First, Second Third and Fourth Generation nuclear weapons, you should Google: “The Physical Principles of Thermonuclear Explosives, Inertial Confinement Fusion, and the quest for Fourth Generation Nuclear Weapons,” by Andre Gsponer and Jean-Pierre Hurni.

      Carly Sublette also has an online description of how modern nuclear weapons work. The Nagasaki Mark III bomb technology was left behind in 1948.

      The Hexenkessel bomb tested twice at Ohrdruf was a hybrid nuclear device based on an earlier Fuel Air Explosive (“FAE”) coal dust bomb, which was tested at Doberitz testing ground in August 1943. At Doberitz this weapon had a blast radius of 600yds (700m). It was the Luftwaffe initially which was most interested in using the coal dust bomb to disrupt formations of Allied bombers.

      Zippermayer was very clear that his device began life as a Fuel Air Explosive(“FAE”). He was equally clear that the SS modified it with radioactive isotopes. There was no confusion in German descriptions between FAE and nuclear weapons. Some have tried to suggest that these large test explosions were simply confused with nuclear blasts, but that is untrue.

      The original coal dust bomb was mentioned in Allied Intelligence reports by four separate Allied agents and was considered by the British war Cabinet in July 1943. It was cited by the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee (“CIOS”) report number XXXII-125. That report mentions “…but additionally there was a V-3 weapon a larger version of the V-1 with an incendiary warhead instead of the high explosive normally used,” which was thought to have a 3,500 mile range. This “Super -1” is also was referred to being developed by the Flodtmann plant at Breslau. I have read German commentators online refer to a Report entitled: “Atomic Target New York” dated 13th December 1944 which infuriatingly does not cite a file reference number, but does mention interrogation of a German POW about plans and drawings seen at the Flodtmann Plant. That report it is alleged also links Dr Ferdinand Trendleberg of Seimens Schukert Werke along with plasma physicist Max Steenbeck and nuclear physicist Barwell to a new atomic warhead for the Super V-1. That report allegedly mentions manufacture of a new hydrogen bomb warhead for the Super V-1 which occurred at an underground laboratory in Pulverhof at Rastow (Schwerin).

      According to interviews with Zippermayer who did not understand nuclear physics involved a pinkish radioactive waxy agent was added to his coal dust warhead weapon in late 1944.

      Rob Ardnt may have been the person whom I read some years ago online saying powdered Uranium was added. I have no idea beyond this of the original source for the claim that Uranium was added, just that I have seen claims by people who are generally well informed that Uranium powder was added to the coal dust bomb. Zippermayer noted the pinkish liquid had to be added shortly before use as it degraded quickly. Knowing that Prof Gerlach notes the SS wanted to develop Tritium for nuclear weapons in September 1944 and that this could be done quite easily by irradiating Lithium with X-rays, it leads me to assume that Tritium and Uranium oxide were added. It would make sense to also add Beryllium oxide since this emits neutrons when explosively compressed, or exposed to Alpha radiation and the Nazis were indeed refining Beryllium in the Degaussa refinery at Orienberg where Uranium was also being refined. I have no idea if the Uranium additive was enriched or not. It may have been in liquid solution with the Tritium.

      Assuming these were the key additives I can only assume that the coal dust bomb provided the necessary compression for igniting a boosted fission explosion.
      To learn more, why not Google, “Hitler’s Suppressed and Still-Secret Weapons, Science and Technology” by Henry Stevens which can be read online?

      Stevens has researched three interviews given by SS Ober-Scharfuhrer Dr Ing Mario Zippermayer to US Army Intelligence at Salzburg after the war. Zippermayer was also a captain in the Luftwaffe and was working on developing a Fuel Air Explosive for the HS-117 guided Surface to Air Missile with the intention of breaking up bomber formations, when the SS approached him to develop his weapon for them.

      One of the reports concerning Zippermayer is available at the Imperial War Museum, London:

      CIOS Report, Item No.1,4,& 5, file No.32−109, page 22, Interrogation of Dr. Hans Friedrich Golg (aka Gotte), Jan 17, 1946, G−2 Division, SHAEF (Reer) APO.

      Gotte, Klemm and Zippermayer were the three men responsible for adapting the coal dust bomb to a hybrid atomic weapon for the SS. TheOperation Hexenkessel weapon used “Tesla methodology” which implies plasma physics or the compression of Tritium to form an X-ray plasma.

      Dr Arthur Klemm was apparently the real inventor of the Hexenkessel bomb and researchers need to focus on reports of his interrogations. That bomb was aerial dropped from an aircraft over a forest above Starnberger See, SW of Munich which is also report in BIOS final report 142G. This explosion it was noted had a blast radius of 4.5 kilometres and damage out to 12.5 km, putting it in the category of equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb.

      Yes any boosted fission bomb typically has very complete combustion of the fissile mass (ie Uranium). That is because saturation from external neutrons ensures little is left uncombusted. Perhaps in the case of enriched U235 maybe all you could find is Cesium 137 and some U238 fall out present. The blasts at Ohrdruf were under the control of the SS and Operation Hexenkessel formally commenced on 8 March 1945 during the Ohrdruf test blasts. Hexenkessel was itself preceded by Operation Humus.

      At Hiroshima by 1983, U235 was undetectable above normal environmental levels. Nuclear fall-out is almost entirely gone three months after a conventional blast. If radioactive fall-out was so undetectable at Hiroshima in the years after WW2 then it is no surprise how little evidence remains at Ohrdruf, or Rugen test sites, yet the existence of Cs137 at both sites is still notable. At Rugen two water filled craters on Bug Isthmus are contaminated by Cs137.

      The German 2006 PTB report of the Ohrdruf site soil samples failed to analyse the ratio between Cs137 and Cs135. This ratio would chronologically date the event which caused the Cs137, but inexplicably the PTB never calculated this simple aspect.

      To correct you my website is about the Ju-390 and I created others about the Nazi atomic bomb and the Nazi Bell.

      • Woops, yes, I meant “Ju-390”. Sorry for the incorrect model number!

        Regarding Schumann-Trinks: is it your belief that at least a couple of these weapons—the equivalent in explosive yield to modern “battlefield nukes” or tactical nuclear weapons—may have been used against the Russians on the Eastern Front during WWII? If so, I can only assume that the only reasons more of them were not used were either 1) Germany couldn’t produce enough bomb fuel fast enough to build more than a handful of these weapons, and/or 2) that the Allies were able to produce credible threats of massive retaliation via poison gas and bioweapons such that the Germans were deterred—though they obviously kept working on other technology designed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat via some kind of massive, last second bombs.

        Of course we’re not talking only about the German effort, but also how it may have intersected with Japan’s nuclear weapons programs. There is a MAGIC intercept (which you cite elsewhere and which I have seen personally at the US National Archives) in which a Japanese Army attache based in Stockholm reports back to Tokyo that the Germans have used a “genshai hakai dan”—literally “element bomb”, or so some native Japanese speakers have informed me. In any case that Japanese term means “atomic bomb”. You state upthread that the Japanese were given plans for the Schumann-Trinks device. I had speculated in a recent conversation with another researcher that that might have been the case but had not seen you make that specific claim except in this thread. Do you have any specific documentation for this claim?

        Loved the info about Cs-137 and how it relates to the German detonations. I have read an English translation of a report from a German technical institute regarding testing done at Ohrdurf in which it is claimed that no radioactive contamination consistent with a nuclear detonation was found—but I wondered about their methodology and thoroughness, to say nothing of the political climate in Europe, any of all of which might have resulted in less than reliable conclusions.

        Unfortunately I am pressed for time here, Simon, but please allow me to again invite you to correspond personally. I have emailed you using the contact information from your Ju-390 website and would love to have a more in depth correspondence if you are willing. I understand if that doesn’t work for you and in any event I thank you for sharing all that you’ve shared here.

      • Sorry Will if I have missed your email invitation. I will hunt for it when i have a chance too. I am on a public internet facility here. I would be happy to correspond. Re send an email to me if you can, I must have missed it.

        The PTB also covered up a leak of radiation from a german research reactor in 1986 and tried to pass the blame off on Chernobyl, when subsequent independent analysis showed the leukemia outbreak was actually caused by hi-tech beads of a compound consisting Plutonium, Americum and Curium, coated in Titanium, which had nothing to do with Chernobyl. I place no faith in the PTB to tell the truth.

        A guy called Doug deitrich a former US DoD archivist from San Francisco came across German WW2 files mentioning the use of german nukes against the Soviets in Pomerania which deitrich says he was ordered to destroy.

        Two German authors Meyer and Mehner published a letter from a Dr Lachner living in Argentina who recounted that wartime germany built 15 such nukes during the war two of which he claimed fell into Soviet hands and were subsequently tested by the soviets after the war. This might explain how the soviets quite quickly were able to shrink nukes into ballistic missiles as that is quite a jump from the Nagasaki Mark III bomb to Third generation nukes The Soviets published unclassified scientific papers on Third Generation techniques in 1946 six years before USA mastered that technology in the Swan device.

        Back later when I get the chance but there was a USN report dated June 15, 1945, which cites this.

      • On 12 September 1986 a fire at the GKSS site radioactive material near Garching in Germany released synthetic radioactive beads which were blamed on Chernobyl. That is the reference I made in my last post. Later analysis proved it was nothing to do with Chernobyl after which the German authorities remained tight lipped and refused further comment. The synthetic radioactive beads were part of experiments with Fourth Generation nuclear weapons. That is to say weapons using extremely heavy synthetic elements beyond Plutonium or else weapons using anti-matter. The CERN complex collects anti-matter with the large Halidron collider for development in incredibly miniaturised lightweight neutron bombs with incredible yield potential compared with Plutonium. The irony is that European taxpayers funded CERN for peaceful nuclear research.

        Back to the 1945 USN Intelligence report it is entitled: “German technical Aid to Japan, a Survey” June 15,1945, held by Combined Arms Research Library, Fort Leavenworth, KS file ref:- 3 1695 00561 5885. (paragraph 14, page 117) which details interrogation of a POW in the Philippines who disclosed Germany gave Japan technology for a Uranium atom splitting bomb in 1944.

        A friend of mine who is writing about Japan’s nuclear facility in Konan tipped me off recently that there will soon be further revalations that the Allies were aware in 1944 of Atomic bomb technology contacts between Japan and Germany.

        Soviet Maj General Shytkov wrote several letters to Stalin concerning a Thorium refinery at Konan and a cyclotron facility there for harvest of Uranium 233. The Soviets continued to operate the plant for some years after the war inside North Korea..The North koreans are practically swimming in the stuff.

        As for Ohdruf the report concludes that it can not dertermine whether or not there was an atomic explosion at Ohrdruf which seems a rather inconclusive reply. It said that neither Uranium 235 nor Uranium 238 could be detected there, however harvesting U233 from Thorium in a cyclotron device would not involve either U235 or U238. Furthermore U235 was undetectable above background levels at Hiroshima by 1983, so it proves absolutely nothing in their report..

        The saddest thing of this whole web page to me, is how it features an alleged wartime drawing of a Plutonium weapon (from 1941) which was obviously a fake and unfortunately Karlsch was discredited by his belief in it. In all other respects Karlsch was quite correct and should have paid more heed to the Schumann Trinks weapon.

  15. The PTB report on soil analysis at Ohrdruf is deeply flawed because it refers to no attempt at fission track analysis to chronologically date the fall out there. If Caesium 137 found there was caused by a 1945 event then in undisturbed soil you would find it at a depth of 3 centimetres. Soviet era tests would leave a strata of 137Cs at 2cm and Chernobyl deposits would not be found any deeper than 0.5cm. The report is silent on any attempt to analyse this. Furthermore if there were 137Cs at 3cm deep then you would check the ratio of 137Cs with 137Ba, since Barium is the stable decay product. If the ratio at 3cm deep were 18% Caesium to Barium -137.

    The PTB refuses to release the actual report and it’s raw data so is unavailable for independent review.

    • Hello again, Simon! Love the information you’re posting on here. FYI, I re-sent an email to your gmail account, the one in which you spell your name with a “y”. (I’m not posting it in this thread in case you’d rather keep it private.) Please let me know if you received it, and of course be sure to check your spam folder. In general, it appears to me that you are looking in some different—and also very productive—places for information about all this than where I have been digging. Broadly speaking, it would seem that most of your information comes from military and military intelligence sources where most of mine comes from government and “spook” sources, ie, OSS and MAGIC. Just to show you how popular culture can distort your perceptions if you’re not careful, I always gave the OSS – MAGIC end of the spectrum more credit because (I now realize) of the generally more “sexy” reputation the OSS, CIA and KGB enjoy in many corners of both fiction and history. However: you have definitely corrected my perception and have pointed me back to military intel as a very good place to look. You’ve also obviously had access to some Russian – Soviet sources; I have longed to dig through their files, as well, but never had the resources or the connections to do so. I am glad you and Karlsch are among the very few in the West who have ever made any kind of detailed survey of those sources.

      So, yes, I would welcome the opportunity to correspond and hope to do so in the near future.

      • Will I don’t have particularly good access to Soviet sources Will but what i have found is that it is invaluable to Google search ion foreign languages and in the case of Russia to use Google translate to cut n paste search terms in their cryllic alphabet and then trawl and translate the hits back from Russian. Countries behind the former Iron Curtain have developed different source material from the west.

        No I can’t find or recognise your email in either of my usual email accounts. Do you refer to my symngun account?
        This bewilders me. I am used to tons of spam so I don’t mind to publish the start of my address.
        Please keep trying Will, likewise i’d enjoy the chat. I suspect you are William J P from the militaryphotos forum where I have begun posting again after a long pause.

      • Guilty as charged! I will message you over on AHF as you suggest. Gotta run back to work just now, but I will be in touch. Until then, sir!

  16. Very interesting discussons!

    But what is with the so called german 76- Bomb? That bomb was ready in September 1943,an american Top secret report said .That bomb was the IG Farben Bomb.Read about MUNA Espelkamp.That nuclear plant( Underground)developped this bomb…

  17. Hi Dirk, if as I gather the 76-Zentner bomb weighed 3.8 tonnes then the real issue was whether there was a German delivery system (ie aircraft) in 1943 capable of carrying the weapon over its most likely target London.

    In August 1943 Hitler ordered production of the He-177 V8 later known as the He-277B based on the He-177 with a twin tail fin and four separate engines driving four propellers. This aircraft reached early production about April 1944. It could reach an altitude of 49,500 feet fully loaded which made it invulnerable to British fighters.

    Mysteriously although eight He-277B airframes were converted from He-177 A6 prototype aircraft at the Riechlin factory for some obscure reason Hiitler cancelled production in April 1944.About the same time the Americans flew a sole B-29 pre-production bomber around the UK on a publicity and evaluation tour and it is believed to have been sighted over Austria in April 1944 too.

    I do know that various threats were conveyed to Hitler of nuclear and biological warfare retaliation if the deployed nuclear weapons against the UK.

    I am puzzled exactly how this 76-Zentner fitted in with other atomic weaponry designs in Germany. The so called Schumann Trinks boosted fission weapon was quite small and according to the Stockholm signal’s MAGIC decrypt (NSA archives RG457) that had a uranium warhead weighing just 5kg.

    It seems to me that 76-Zentner wasa hybrid thermonuclear device developed from Dr Ing Mario Zippermayr’s Liquid Air Bomb, with radioactive addives developed by dr Heinrich Mache and Dr Alfred Klemm for the SS .

    Please can you tell us if Espelkamp was the so called underground radioactive dump in which dozens of bodies were also entombed?

    If so it suggests tome that SS Lt Gen Kammler executed the workers there in 1945 under Hitler’s Nero decree to eliminate all witnesses.

    • Hitler had to cancel the nuclear weapons programme because the only remaining plant producing heavy water, hidden in the alps, was rendered inoperable in 1944 due to allied bombing.

  18. Paul your comments are based on an enduring myth…

    The Germans had more than one source of Deuterium. In fact they had at least seven Heavy water plants. There were two Heavy Water plants in Norway at Vermork and Saheim using the Haber-Bosch process.

    Before production ceased at Vermork 6.2 tonnes of Deuterium had been shipped back to Germany, and Allied efforts never interrupted production from Saheim.

    IG Farben operated the Leuna plant south of Mersberg near Berlin – codename Stalin Organ, using the Harteck-Suess process. This harvested Deuterium as a byproduct of Ammonia production for explosives manufacture.

    There was also the Montecanteni Heavy Water plant in Italy which also used a Haber-Bosch process.

    In Silesia and near Hanover there were plants using the Geib Sulfide process.

    The Vemork plant was disassembled by 11 August 1944. Nine of the electrolytic cells were re-established at the Dahlem bunker in Berlin. another nine were re-established at Haigerloch in southern Germany.

    The truth is that Nazi Germany was swimming in it.

    • Hi Simon,

      I think “swimming in it” is slightly exaggerated. I would be interested in where your sources come from. The plants in Norway were decoy plants. The real manufacture of heavy water occurred at a plant built into a mountain in the Bavarian .

      • Italy also had a another Heavy water plant at Cotrone.

        If you wanted to read further, you should read the so called G-Papers gathered by Allied scientific Intelligence ALSOS teams in Germany. These were Nazi scientific documents collected by Sammuel Goudschmit and archived by the American National Archives Records Administration (NARA). In Particular those by Dr Paul Harteck who led the Nazi deuterium project would be most helpful. These include G-268 compiled by IG Farben staff, an early survey by Harteck in G-154, G-226 by Dr Hans Jensen and G-261 by Dr Harteck and Dr Suess.
        You can find material in “Physics and National Socialism, an Anthology of Primary Sources by Klaus Hentschel and Ann M Hentschel, pub. 2011.
        Another book “ The Wartime Race for Nuclear Energy by Per F Dahl at page 211 also mentions the Leuna plant and the Merino Plant along with production at the Saheim Plant (near Vermork) and also Heavy Water production at Nottoden.
        In fact in looking up sources to answer your question Paul I discovered another two plants which I never knew about before either.
        Dr Karl Wirtz gave invaluable first hand information in his memoirs about the total amount of Heavy Water from Saheim which reached his laboratory in Silesia from Vermork six weeks after the sinking of the Hydro ferry and the total including amounts shipped before the Hydro sinking amounts to 6,200kg from Norway alone. This far exceeds the miserable 600kg which Heisenberg had at his disposal at Berlin Dahlem.
        …so no to use the term swimming in it was no exaggeration.

        They had enough for ten reactors from Norway alone and the history books are quite misleading.

      • Oh ok Simon. I guess I took that too literally, a few cubic metres doesn’t seem like swimming in it to me but I see now you mean in terms of its capability. Thanks for the feedback.
        I have a question for you Simon. In this paper https://sites.google.com/site/naziabomb/home/heavy-water on the map you show a heavy water production plant in central southern Germany. Can you tell me its name and where exactly it was? Thanks Paul

      • Hi Paul, to be frank I can’t pinpoint the one shown on my map between Bremen and Hamburg. The same website contains a summary of my conversations with the son of Stefan Strzelczyk who contacted me through the Axishistory forum. I don’t recall his name at the moment but he was unsure and we mutually concluded it must have been somewhere between Bremen and Hamburg, However Dirk Finkemeier who also comments in this webpage has just emailed me about an underground heavy water plant at Minden west of Hanover which Dirk says was operated by the company Uhde AG from Dortmund at Porta-Minden. The description from Dirk matches the description I recieved from Stefan Strzelczyk’s grandson. Peerhaps thatisthe answer

      • Simon, my father worked in this secret heavy water plant in the german alps. I have never been able to establish exactly where it was. He described it as built into a mountain so could never be identified as such by allied aerial surveillance. This was the “real” source of heavy water, my father told me that the ones in Norway were operable but decoy plants. It was this plant that shut in 1944 due to allied bombing of transport infrastructure. The SS whisked away all the gold pipework into Switzerland just before the war ended. I know this because my father went there, when it was every man for himself to try to get his hands on the gold. :) If you have any information as to where the plant actually was sited I would be very interested. Regards Paul Strausa

  19. In addition to my last comment, it seems fanciful that a Nazi regime characterized by a death cult ideology, would somehow be deterred from using a nuclear weapon for fear of retaliation, if it were available to them.

    • Paul, to be sure, Nazi Germany could be characterized as “a death cult”. However, despite their widespread interest in Nordic and other pagan occultism, from what I have read, not many Nazis were truly willing to risk their eternal destinies upon leaving this world on such occultism. In other words, they were basically secularists in the end and thus much closer to Marxists than they were to present day Islamofascists, most of whom are happy to die because they then get to spend eternity with their dozens of nubile virgins or what have you. Thus, at the end of the day, for most of them, this life was all they had. So, an existential or at least realistic threat of massive retaliation against their own (presumed-to-exist) limited nuclear weapons capability, a retaliation that could easily cost most or all of them their lives, would probably have deterred them or at least given them strong second thoughts.

      • Hi Will, It’s a possibility, however, I strongly disagree. The Nazi death cult did not have any religious connotations, I didn’t suggest that. It was lunacy to invade Russia, it was lunacy to sink American shipping before America entered the war. The Nazi decision makers did not care about the consequences for these acts of madness. In the latter days of the war when they were launching V2 rockets they would have used a nuclear warheads if they were available. The fact is they were some way from having that capability. I would also point out that most of the Nazi elite committed suicide. In the case of Goebbels killing his wife and children before killing himself – do you think these are men that would be deterred from using a nuclear weapon as a last ditch attempt to force the allies to negotiate?

    • The Nazi regime was not a suicide cult… Germany had insufficient rubber to distribute gas masks for everyone. Hitler was gassed himself in the first world war and had an absolute dread of gas attacks.

  20. FYI, in the comment above, when I wrote…”Thus, at the end of the day, for most of THEM, this life was all they had”, by “THEM” I mean, the Nazis. Sorry if any confusion resulted from my lack of specificity. So, I was contrasting the beliefs and worldview of most Nazis with the beliefs and worldview of most present-day Islamofascists, and how their respective beliefs usually played out / play out in terms of their respective willingness to die for their cause.

  21. History channel hunting hitler s2 e6 the secret island talks about a blast site in Germany where 600 jews where killed during a test explosion. Hitler continued the research on the island after the war.


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