Monday, March 14, 2005
Nazis Tested Crude Nuclear
By TONY CZUCZKA
BERLIN - Nazi
scientists trying to build an atomic bomb
set off a test explosion two months before
the end of World War II, killing hundreds
of people in eastern Germany, a German
researcher claims in a book published
"Hitler's Bomb" theorizes that the
March 1945 device didn't achieve fission,
but did scatter telltale radioactive
particles at the Ohrdruf test site. It
also claims that Nazi Germany briefly had
a working nuclear reactor, something
historians generally dispute.
Author Rainer Karlsch, an
economic historian, offers no first-hand
proof, saying his account is an
interpretation of available evidence and
he hopes it will spur more research.
He said soil samples from the Ohrdruf
site he had analyzed for his book turned
up above-average levels of radioactive
isotopes such as cesium 137 and cobalt 60,
though he quotes the testers as saying the
site poses no radiation hazard.
However, access to what he believes was
ground zero was barred because of old
munitions at the site, which served as a
Soviet military training area in East
Germany after the war.
A U.S. mission that arrived in Germany
with American troops in 1945 to
investigate the German atomic bomb program
concluded that the Germans were nowhere
near making a nuclear weapon.
Karlsch doesn't claim they were near.
But based on witness accounts recorded
after the war, postwar Allied aerial
photos and Soviet military intelligence
reports, he argues that a test blast
happened March 3, 1945, at Ohrdruf -- then
being run as a Nazi concentration camp. He
says there probably were several previous
"Hitler's bomb -- a tactical nuclear
weapon with a potential for destruction
far below that of the two American atomic
bombs -- was tested successfully several
times shortly before the end of the war,"
the book says.
Holton, a professor of physics and
the history of science at Harvard
University, said the main scientists in
the Nazi atomic bomb program never
mentioned a test blast or having built
a working nuclear reactor.
British intelligence bugged the
scientists -- including a key planner,
Walther Gerlach -- while they were
interned at Farm Hall manor in England
after the war.
Any claims of a Nazi test blast "would
have to have a lot of documentary evidence
behind it," Holton said.
"It also would have to be checked
against the remarks that Gerlach made
during his period at Farm Hall ... where
none of that sort of planning was
discussed by him or anyone else."
Karlsch says scientists around Gerlach
had "a certain amount" of enriched uranium
from an as yet unknown source.
The German device probably was a 2-ton
cylinder containing enriched uranium, he
writes. The amount of uranium was small,
meaning the conventional explosives used
to trigger the device did not set off a
vastly more destructive nuclear chain
reaction, Karlsch said.
That would mesh with an account Karlsch
said he found in Soviet military archives,
apparently based on information from a
German informant, that said the blast
felled trees within a radius of about 500
to 600 yards.
Witnesses reported a bright flash of
light and a column of smoke over the area
that day, and residents said they had
nausea and nosebleeds for days afterward,
One witness said he helped burn heaps
of corpses inside the military area the
next day. They were hairless and some had
blisters and "raw, red flesh."
Karlsch concludes that the blast killed
several hundred prisoners of war and
inmates forced to work at the site. Two
months later, on May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany
surrendered after the Soviets captured
The book also seeks to turn attention
from famous physicists like Werner
Heisenberg and Carl Friedrich von
Weizsaecker -- who historians believe
were often ambivalent about building a
nuclear bomb for Hitler -- to lesser-known
but fiercely ambitious scientists and Nazi
officials who Karlsch theorizes were
directly involved in the testing
Physicist Jeremy Bernstein, who
edited the Farm Hall transcripts for the
book "Hitler's Uranium Club: The Secret
Recordings at Farm Hall," said a key
question was where the enriched uranium
could have come from.
"To enrich uranium, you need an plant
the size of Oak Ridge, and the Germans
never had one," he said, referring to the
sprawling U.S. facility that produced
enriched uranium for the Hiroshima
Russian officials were unaware of any
such test by the Germans, said Nikolai
Shingaryov, a spokesman for Russia's
Federal Nuclear Agency. "Of course we
don't know everything, but we don't have
data about this," he said.
and American Intelligence experts of the
ALSOS team dismantle the German
experimental reactor at Haigerloch in May
1945. Photo from David Irving,
(provided by Michael Perrin).
for the gullible "Hitler
had the atom bomb first but it was too
ungainly for aerial deployment"- says a
new book | In commentary, David Irving
says: rubbish | Süddeutsche
Zeitung belatedly agrees
Times report on the same
Washington Post: Book:
Nazis Tested Crude Nuclear
Irving's Hitler's War (free
Irving's The German Atomic Bomb (The
Virus House) (free
zieht Dankesworte an den Rechtsausleger
David Irving nun doch sofort
German: in 2001, after protests from
the usual quarters, the Haigerloch
museum removed all references and
thanks to Mr Irving who had provided
them with all photographs on