New evidence of a german nuclear weapon project?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by delcyros, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The historican R. Karlsch has recently published a new book (R. Karlsch, Hitlers Bombe. Die geheime Geschichte der deutschen Kernwaffenversuch, (Hrsg.) DVA (Munich 2005). It is not yet avaiable in english. He prove in his book that the german research was more than the Uranverein led by Heisenberg (who´s nuclear project at Haigerloch did not became critical). There are three points of highest interest in his book, which justify to discuss it here:
    A) He tries to prove that a group led by Diebner sucesfully build a nucler reactor at Gottow, which became critical (an analysis of the Bundesprüfamt confirmed that) at a proir unknown experiment.
    B) He found evidence that a group of scientist worked on a fission bomb (a pure fissionbomb without a nuke for ignition). They come close to a solution. (debatable)
    And, I think the following is most important:
    C) He found out, that the germans did suceed in testing at least two nuclear weapons (one at 12th of october ´44 at Bug/Baltic Sea and another at 21:20, 3rd of march ´45 at Ohrdruf/central Germany). Both nukes were undercritical but they did suceed in a nuclear chainreaction (with the freeing of huge amounts of energy, comparable with a tactical nuclear weapon but much smaller than the US nukes). He found physical and chemical evidence for both tests (especially at Ohrdruf).
    I suggest to read the book and discuss it here. Opinions by german critics and historicans are splitted and official investigations are running.
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I read an article about it this morning as well. It sounds interesting, but I will have to wait for the English version.
     
  3. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure. There is not that much evidence in his argumentation. But he digged deep, no question. I´m looking forward to read the reports of the official investigations.
     
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I assume in part B you mean "fusion", since "fission" makes no sense. ???

    I don't believe even today we have found a way to make a fussion bomb w/o a fission trigger. There is the rumor of "red mercury", now over a decade old, but it seems this is pure fiction as the science does not back it up and none has ever been proven to exist.

    Dirty bombs do not generate the kind of yeilds to classify them as anything close to a actual fission bomb. It is known the Germans did some experiments with such dirty bombs, mostly involving relatively unenriched uranium oxide powder and TNT (or RDX). These would certainly have been nasty if they'd have been used, killing thousands of people. But they would have virtually ensured the utter anihilation of the German people - by 1945 Britain had enough anthrax to wipe out almost every German city, and anthrax cakes which would have spread futher infection througout the rural areas - not to mention mustard gas and other nasty concoctions in huge supply, along with the means to deliver it.

    Any idiot can make a dirty bomb - all you need is the mildly enriched Uranium and an explosive to do it. While nasty, it is not a "devastating" weapon. Only within a small area of the blast are people sufficiently exposed to cause short term fatalities, mostly it causes long term health problems. Not very good as a weapon of war (but for terrorism - that's a different story).

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
  5. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    As far as I understood, it was no dirty bomb. There is pretty much evidence for a nuclear chainreaction (they found traces of Plutonium 239, Uranium 235, Uranium 238, Cäsium 137 and Kobalt 60). And a blast effect of around 300 meters in diameter (area of total destruction by heat and blast effects). That is the interesting point. There is no Plutonium at an explosion of an low enriched Uranium 235/238 bomb as long as it stays a dirty bomb (without chainreaction). However, investigations are running. B) is fusion, right. (technicly they wanted to use Li-3 D-reactions in a high compressed procedure by means of (Hohlladungstechnik)). I agree that there was no mitlitary use for these bombs as long as missile technique was as unreliable as it was in 1945. Anthrax is interesting, but more dangerous was Botulinum, sure.
     
  6. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Well, all the other evidence contradicts this info. The evidence I've seen indicates the Germans had no means of enriching enough U235, and no concept of Plutonium's existance at all.

    It will be interesting find out what this "historian's" evidence is. Do you have a link or a name I can search on?

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Having done a little searching, it appears this is w.r.t. a simple dirty bomb, no chain reaction being involved at all.

    http://www.recorder.ca/cp/World/050314/w031463A.html

    As far as I know, the Germans had succeeded in estabishing a very short lived Atomic pile sometime in 1945, just before the war ended. Other than that they had no reactors, and no enrichment facilities, so the idea of a Nazi bomb other than a dirty bomb seems just silly.

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
  8. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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  9. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    As long as official investigations at Ohrdruf are not completed, I don´t want to take a position. But a few things are interesting.
    1.) They had quite good knowledge of Plutonium.
    The first to discover Plutonium were two US physician, Mc Millian and Abelson in spring of 1940. They published their discovering! (it was not until june, 15th. that the US kept it secret)
    Beside this v. Weizsäcker made in early 1940 a 5 paged report of the energysource Uranium 238. He (theoreticly) proofed that U-238 would change in a reactor to a new element, which he called "Eka Rhe 239" (Neptunium). Mc Millian and Abelson proofed (theoreticly) that Neptunium would change to Plutonium (published in second june edition of "Physical Review"). v. Weizsäcker read this review in mid 1940! He confirmed that Plutonium was the best element to be used (he wrote reports to Heisenberg, Wirtz and Diebner (!)). Heisenberg was the only one who don´t believed. (and that´s why everyone thinks that the germans had no knowledge of Plutonium, you can trace it back to the Farm Hall protokolls, where Heisenberg refused the possibility of Plutonium in the US bomb)
    2.) The germans had a Betatron (enrichment facility).
    The company C.H.F. Müller finished the first european Betatron (15 MeV) at Hamburg under Dr. Rolf Wderöe. Other Betatrons were completed by v. Ardenne (the author found remains of one at Bad Saarow, will check it out this weekend). The capabilities of these facilities were not very impressive, but Ardenne believed, that he could enrichen 1,5 g Uranium 235 up to 15% in an hour with his Betatron.
    3.) the germans had one working nuclear reactor (and thus they theoreticly had the possibility to get Plutonium).
    Heisenberg and Diebner had two independent reactor projects. Diebner was technicly much ahead of his time (global shape of Uranium cubes and multistage reactor) but Heisenberg had more fame as well as more sources. The previoulsy unknown project Gottow IV of Diebner at 1944/45? worked for at least 8 hours and became critical. After finishing the test it was taken out of the cooling water and the reactor got out of controll. (thats why we know about this project, the site was investigated and they found enough Plutonium and other traces to reconstruct a critical working condition for at least 8 hours. A Xenon 135 poisoning ended the reactor. After all Diebner did probably not succeed in getting the Plutonium he wanted. What about the construction of the bomb? R. Karlsch does not give a clear statement. It was surely no nuclear weapon like Hiroshima. But the physical institutes of both, TH Braunschweig and Bundeswehr confirmed that a "limited nuclear chainreaction with massive energyoutput" (quote Prof. Reinhardt Brandt) did happen at Ohrdruf. Prof. Keyser confirmed the mesurements. I think we have to wait for the official investigation...
     
  10. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    If there is no critical mass, there is no "tremendous explosion". A similar weight of TNT (which is of course much larger in volume) will generate a significantly larger blast.

    As far as production goes, 15% enriched (i.e. "pure U235") is not nearly enough. To make a bomb capable of a critical reaction takes about 70% enrichment, minimum, and that requires a physically huge amount of material. The lower the level of enrichment, the more difficult it is to establish the necessary cascade reaction, and the more material required to do so. The reactor you describe might create 1.5 grams of U235 at 80% enrichment every week, probably every several weeks or even months if it coud do it at all (the higher you enrich the harder it is to enrich more). A reasonable bomb in WWII required about 40kg of over 75% enriched U235, meaning that even if the facility you describe had been able to produce 1.5 grams of enriched uranium per day it would still take 73 years to produce enough material for a single bomb!

    [​IMG]

    The above image shows the Okridge refinery. This plant, called Y-12, was producing 90 grams of ~80% enriched uranium per day by the end of 1944. When it was built, there was no way of knowing if the plant would even work - and it didn't! It had to be completely redesigned in mid 1944.

    Even at that rate it takes about 15 months to produce enough uranium for a single bomb. So a second enrichment plant, called K-25, shown below, was brought online.

    [​IMG]

    Try to grasp the size of these plants and the fact that it was all a gamble to a produce a weapon which might not even be possible.

    As for plutonium, even if they knew it was theoretically possible, they had failed to produce even one gram of testable plutonium. Without this, they had no way of knowing that the spontanous fission rate of plutonium was so much higher than that of U235, far too high for a gun-type design (it is impossible to drive the bullet into the donut fast enough to avoid a pre-critical mass explosion). Until this knolwege was gained, no work on an implosion bomb would have even been dreamed of, since the gun-type weapon is so much more obvious.

    So, in the end, I find it silly to consider that the Germans might have produced more than a few minor sub-critical dirty bomb type weapons.

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
  11. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    You are completely right, Lunatic, there was nothing in the world to compare with Oak Ridge, hands down. But enrichment via betatrons was not the only way to get Plutonium (known as "Element 94" by the germans since 1940). They wanted to get it via nuclear rector. That was no silly idea, they had enough uranium to run a reactor (they actually did, even with it´s failure in mind). But Karlsch has to prove it. He found and published in the archives of Jörg Diebner (the son of Dr. Diebner) a very interesting document (R. Karlsch, Hitlers Bombe, (Hrsg.) DVA (Munich 2005), page 325ff.) ( another one found in the newly opened Moscow archives). It dates back to february 1942. Its topic is the comprehensive analysis of nuclear research by Diebner for the HWA (144 pages). He underlines, that the construction of a heavy water reactor in the next years is technically possible and this would give acces to Plutonium for weapon use (he calculates the critical mass for a nuke quite corrctly to 10-100 Kg Plutonium). Further information are given for the dimension and use of nuclear powerplants (at this time he had no idea of his later multistage reactor, so he is close to Heisenbergs opinion) And back to the nuclear (?) test at Ohrdruf:
    It seems possible that it was:
    A) A dirty bomb, as you say.
    B) A reactor bomb
    C) A fission bomb
    D) A fusion bomb
    E) A mixture of C) and D)
    The most important point is the critical mass. So I regard (B), (C) and (D) unprobable. It definitly had not the critical mass, agreed (otherwise the destruction would have been bigger). Against (A) speaks a very important point: A normal dirty bomb would have no chainreaction and therefor you would not find any Plutonium (if the bomb was of low enriched Uranium). You would also expect to find Strontium or Radium or other highly radiated materials (it lies in the nature of dirty bombs). No Radium and Strontium was found, but there is evidence of Plutonium! Kobalt 60 indicates a heavy neutron output (most likely at a chain reaction), it needs a heavy neutron output and steel or nickel to "make" Kobalt 60. That together with Cäsium 130 speaks for a nuclear event with chain reaktion. The group of Diebner cooperated with Strinks and Schuhmann, a Kriegsmarine research group which tried to build a fusion bomb. While Schuhmann and Trinks did not succed (they found out that they could increase pressure and heat to Lithium to about 2.000.000 atm. and a few million degrees C. but even that was far away for a fusion) they shared their results with Diebner. Diebner found it interesting to build an implosionbomb for undercritical masses of low enriched Uranium. So there is the possibility (if we follow R. Karlsch and the physiscian of the university of Braunschweig) that this construction could provide enough temperature and pressure for a limited nuclear chain reaction. It would make sense with the mesurements. This chainreaction would stop closely after its begin -time is relative for these procedures- (because it could only temporarly provide the needed circumstances for fission and chainreaction, we would say it temporarly "lifted" the Uranium up to the critical point) and therefor would not result in a Hiroshima scale explosion. It is very close to the soviet nuclear tactical shells for heavy guns in the early 80´s. They also have undercritical plutonium masses (and they are not regarded as "dirty" bombs or aren´t they?). But I miss the last proof in Karlsch´s argumentation: That´s only a "what if" (-all techniques could be put together)!
     
  12. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    hmmm very very interesting. I am looking foward to hearing what comes out of this. I too doubt that too much would have come out of this. There just was simply not eneogh time to build a real nuke by Germany.

    Here is some things I have found on the subject:

    This is an actual artical on this from a German magazine called the Spiegel, they have an international online webpage.

    This here below would pretty much just suggest a dirty bomb.

    This sort of shows that something was up.

    This may confirm that something was up in Ordruf but what?

     
  13. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for helping with the translation, Adler! Highly intersting. Just discuss the book. I have not read yet the staements of other physiscian but I´ll keep on to inform. As I indicated, there is much missing in R. Karlsch´s book, he opens a possibility (but he has to proof). The russian document is not of that bad quality (readable even with my basic language knowledge of russian), but he quotes very well, it should be possible to verify (L.D. Rjabev (Hrsg.), Atomnij projekti CCCP (Das sowjetische Atomprojekt 1938-1945), vol. 2 (Moscow 2002), page 260f.). Official investigation will have to verify the samples of Ohrdruf. That is the keypoint.
     
  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Is the Bundeswehr or the government investigating it now. I might have to make a trip up to Ohrdruf. I think it would be interesting to see the area. Where I live is not to far from Eastern Germany and I might be able to check it out.
     
  15. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    Delcros,

    From what I've been able to find, at about the time you reference, the Germans did establish a critical pile - it exploded about 6-8 hours after being established. This would create some plutonium and other such elements.

    In the one other nuclear site (location not specifically given but it was in the balkins or south west russia I think) there were no fission byproducts.

    It will be interesting to see what comes of this. I suspect it will be de-bunked.

    As for plutonium creation, sure realtively small amounts can be created by putting U-238 in a reactor. But Germany didn't have a working reactor until the very last month or so of the war. A reactor that explodes does not really count do you think?

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
  16. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you, Lunatic, this briefly working reactor cannot be credited with Plutonium production, in general. I was just underlining its (theoretically) importance.
    I did not found any hints in the book for a south west russian nuclear reactor. It sounds interesting. The other test, which could have became critical would have been Heisenbergs try at Haigerloch. A large "what if". His construction could work if he could acces more Uranium cubes (he used some 3,5 to. of it but he needed 5 to. (additional 5 to. were storaged at Stadtilm, but Heisenberg had no acces to it, thanks to the SS) So his reactor did not became critical (Heisenberg had none of the two possibilities: 1.) take more Uranium (not accesable) 2.) change the geometry from cylindrical shape to Diebners global shape (no time left)). I think this was his luck, he had no emergancy solutions if the reactor get out of controll. Dieners briefly working reactor was found by soviet ground forces and transferred to laboratory No. 2/Moscow. I was searching in the news for statements.
    I tried to find the source of the NKVD statment, but I found a book (see above) which is -surprise- translated by R. Karlsch, himself. It´s suspect. I will try to get the russian original via national library in Berlin. In the news,
    G. Kirchner found himself to be misunderstood: He said "Im Augenblick liegen uns keine Informationen über eine Nuklearexplosion bei Ohrdruf vor" and later "Untersuchungen werden in den nächsten Wochen beginnen". The translation should be "We do not have any informations regarding a nuclear explosion at Ohrdrud, in the moment." and "Investigations will start in within the next weeks." And Spiegel translated him with a clear statement: "No atomic explosion at Ohrdruf." As it looks, opinions are divided. In general, I agree with Lunatic. There was simply a lack of Plutonium to build a Hiroshima-scale nuke. But if he is correct (and that is not proofed in the moment!), some scientists were on the right way to build one. And that is indeed something new.
    I do not know if Bundeswehr is still invetigating, they have been present at Ohrdruf for evaluation and they coworked with physiscian of Braunschweig, Darmstadt. I will have to ask a friend.
    And if you have access to this site, Adler, than I suggest you should visit it , of course! I will go for Bad Saarow this weekend (I do know the area since my childhood).
     
  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I don't think it was a reactor test in SW russia (or maybe eastern Rumania?) - I think it was a small dirty bomb test.

    In general, I'd say the Germans never got as far as the Manhatten project by the end of 1942. Yes they had some research that was headed in the right general direction, but they also had research headed in the wrong direction. And it is questionable even with what was headed in the right direction wether they would not have taken a wrong turn or two. The Manhatten project took several wrong turns, but had the depth and resources to overcome this, the German effort clearly lacked such depth and certainly resources. The way they were going, a nuclear bomb by the end of 1949 would have been quite phenominal.

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I will agree with all of that. It is deffinatly going to be interesting to see what comes of this.
     
  19. westminster

    westminster New Member

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    Evidently, The Germans did build an atomic bomb, likely more than one. Those in the U.S. may wish to contact the National Archives for this document:

    A.P.W./U (Ninth Air Force) 96/1945, 373.2 of 19 August 1945, Investigation, Research, Developments and Practical Use of the German Atomic Bomb, Pkts Nos 47 to 53, published by COMNAVEU, 1946.

    Also see the book, Critical Mass by Carter Plymton Hydrick. The author shows that the Manhatten Project would not have had enough uranium for the planned drop date of the bombing of Japan, or a working fuze. It contains many supporting documents and indicates the needed uranium came from U-234 which surrendered to the U.S. There is also a reproduction of an article from the New York Times, dated August 26, 1945, which states, in part, "Besides an atomic bomb, on which, as has been made known, the Germans had made considerable progress..." I don't think I need to place any emphasis here. The source of the information was the Office of War Information, based on CIOS (Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee) reports as Intelligence teams swept into Germany and German held territory.
     
  20. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    I am extremely skeptical of this for the following reasons:

    1) If such a document existed, it would be publically available under the FIA. I cannot find even a hint of this document anywhere on the web - including the USN site which would be obliged to make it available. Certainly if this had been true, authors and news organizations would have presented this info in detail over a decade ago. There is no way such info could be considered relevant to national security, and to get something that old protected requires senate review.

    2) How much U235 was produced where is well documented. There was enough for the test bomb, the Hiroshima bomb, and at least one more U235 bomb available by the end of July 1945, out of Oakridge, with enough for one more bomb comming out of the Y-12 and K-25 facilities every 10-12 weeks or so. Supplies of high grade uranium Ore were available, so there was no need for raw ore from Germany.

    3) There is absolutely no evidence that Germany had any facilities capable of refining U235 sufficiently to make a bomb. It would be impossible to cover up the existance of such a facility, espeically one that would be as badly polluted as it would have to be.

    I think most likely, any report in the NYT was simply propoganda to smooth over the horror that we'd droped this terrible weapon on Japan. The report you refer to is, most likely, mythical. I don't suppose you can locate it somehow? Where did you hear about this?

    =S=

    Lunatic
     
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