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Many explanations have been offered why the Nazis never built an atomic bomb but the man who was at the center of Germany's atomic research did answer the question.

Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker was the longest-living member of the team which performed nuclear research in Germany during the Second World War under the leadership of Werner Heisenberg.

Von Weizsäcker was present at the meeting in Berlin on Sept. 17, 1939, when the atomic bomb program was begun, and he led the way in finding how to convert uranium into energy, and how to produce and use plutonium for the same purpose.

He was interviewed at his home in the late 1990's  for the documentary film  "Stealing the Fire: The Nuclear Weapons Underground" (Filmakers Library) when the producers of the film asked: "Why didn't Germany build the bomb?"

He answered: "Hitler didn't give us the resources."  

Von Weizsäcker was then asked: "If the funds  had been committed and a bomb was built would Hitler have used it?"

"Yes," he said.

Ironically both Heisenberg and Von Weizsäcker became leaders of Germany’s anti-nuclear movement in 1957, when they were among 18 scientists who signed a manifesto protesting nuclear weapons on German soil.


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Comment Preferences

  •  In Albert Speer's "Inside the 3rd Reich," (8+ / 0-)

    He describes a meeting he had with Werner Heisenberg about building a German A bomb. Asked when he could have an A-bomb ready if he started now (in1942), Heisenberg said, "in 1947." Speer concluded the war would be over one way or another by then, and cancelled the A-bomb project. It was Speer's decision to deny the resources. Hitler, who had enormous confidence in Speer, agreed w/ this.

    Speer is the reason hitler denied Heisenberg the necessary R&D.

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    by Kimball Cross on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 09:24:15 AM PDT

    •  One must wonder if Heisenberg's answer (0+ / 0-)

      was truthful, or calculated to elicit the exact recommendation made by Speer, effectively derailing the Nazi path to the atomic bomb?


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      by dagnome on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 10:07:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  they didn't have the resources (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, George3, 207wickedgood

    In his book Disturbing the Universe, Freeman Dyson said that the German V2 program had an upside, in that each rocket cost a great deal to build and fly, thus diverting resources away from aircraft production (for example). When one ponders the gigantic effort that was the Manhattan Project it's obvious that the Nazis could not have done anything remotely similar.

    Had Japan not attacked the US, and Germany had not attacked Russia, things might have turned out very different. The Szilárd/Wigner letter to Roosevelt was drafted in 1939, and there was plenty of research happening in Britain by that time, but it wasn't until the US was well into the war that Manhattan really got moving.

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:14:19 AM PDT

    •  Amazingly enough (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tinfoil Hat, mookins

      The B-29 project cost even more than the Manhattan Project.

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 11:22:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How much of that was the bombsight? (0+ / 0-)

        That was huge, wasn't it?

        Anyone considering a dog for personal safety should treat that decision as seriously as they would buying a gun.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 12:28:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It was a lot of things (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tinfoil Hat, mookins, 207wickedgood

          The pressurization system was a big one.
          The remotely operated gun turrets.
          The radar bombsight of course.

          The engines were a big problem. They experienced so many engine fires they were nicknamed "The Boeing Tri-Motor".

          If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

          by Major Kong on Sun Jun 29, 2014 at 01:06:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Speer was right... (0+ / 0-)

    The war was over by 1947.  There was no way Germany could have held out for two more years, unless they had avoided invading the USSR - or perhaps pulled back prior to engagement at Stalingrad.  So, the architect was right, and probably made the smart decision.

  •  HItler was a failed artist (0+ / 0-)

    and a complete fool when it came to running a military.

    When Messerschmitt developed the wonderful piece of machinery called the ME 262, The fool asked if it could be loaded with bombs and completely ignored the significance of what he had right in front of him. He just might have been able to get the air game back on his side.

    The P51 and others really turned the tide for the allies.

    You have to wonder if it was lack of resources or lack of talent.

    If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -George Washington

    by Tank Mountaine on Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 06:36:31 AM PDT

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