German Atomic Weapons Program

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.
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williamjpellas
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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 18 Aug 2023 20:50

Re: Carter Hydrick and his book, Critical Mass.

Again the chorus here is decades behind the latest archival and historical research. Hydrick was invited to speak at Oak Ridge National Laboratory nearly 20 years ago. That's not exactly small potatoes and it speaks volumes about the credibility of his research. You can watch his 2005 presentation in its entirety here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1kWVnPNQac

The man who gave Hydrick a personal tour of Oak Ridge was D. Ray Smith, who was for many years the lead historian there. Smith is now retired but still active in the field. Just this past summer (2022), he invited Dr. Rider to talk about his findings on the "Hidden History" podcast with which Smith is closely affiliated. Rider's talks on this podcast are found at the following links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0j4vsrz5XE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ8AQm6kboY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHss4fDGCAY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1pPh048r0o

The Third Edition of Hydrick's book was published in 2016. The introduction was written by the late Dr. Delmar Bergen, who was for some years the director of the postwar US nuclear weapons program at Los Alamos. This does not necessarily mean that his observations and conclusions are automatically correct or infallible, but he was certainly in a position to know what had actually happened just a few years before he started at LANL.

Dr. Delmar Bergen, former director of the nuclear weapons program at Los Alamos
National Laboratory [Hydrick 2016, pp. ix–xi].


I began my career at Los Alamos in the summer of 1957, directly involved in nuclear weapons work,
which remained the case until my retirement. I started as a staff member working on nuclear weapon
design, and eventually was promoted to Director of the LANL (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Nuclear Weapons Program. Other assignments included serving as a consultant to the Assistant
Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy, and as a consultant to the US delegation developing the
protocols for the Short and Intermediate Range Missile Treaty between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

[...] I would like to stress two points that I believe materially change the important history of the
birth of the Nuclear Age as we know it:

First, it is my view as a physicist, based on documentation provided here in Critical Mass that the
effort the Germans put into preparing and shipping the 560 kilograms of uranium oxide surrendered
on board the German submarine U-234, was enriched in the isotope U235. In other words, it was
enriched to create a nuclear weapon. [. . .]


The second material information you should take note of, I believe, is that the contributions to
the Manhattan Project of the surrendered U-234 did not stop there.
I believe the surrender of
U-234 had impact on the development of the implosion device—the plutonium bomb dropped on
Nagasaki—as well.

I was well acquainted with the development of the implosion device and the difficulties our scientists
experienced in developing a detonation system that would give a proper spherical implosion. This
concern kept the entire group on edge until the famous Trinity Test in New Mexico proved it to
be successful... Surprisingly, as the date of the test approached, last-minute improvements in the
firing system reduced their concern enough about the reliability of the detonation system...

I was never told how the details of the improvements came about, but it was during this period
that the passengers on board U-234 were debriefed and it was learned that one in particular, the
scientist Heinz Schlicke, had knowledge of fast operating energy transfer systems. The rapid and
consistent release of electrical energy was a key part of the problem the LANL scientists were
experiencing triggering the detonators with the simultaneity necessary to achieve a clean spherical
implosion. There apparently is no written unclassified record available to provide us with what may
have come from the debriefing of Heinz Schlicke but this we do know, over the summer months after
his capture and the surrender of U-234 the confidence in the detonation system greatly improved,
and the production of uranium for the gun weapon increased significantly.
Last edited by williamjpellas on 18 Aug 2023 21:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 18 Aug 2023 21:19

William,

These so-called "last gasp" attacks were carefully planned. The German leadership wanted to win the war, of course, but Allied bombing of all suspected atomic project sites caused some delays. SS General Kammler was ordered to get critical German weapon projects moved underground. And he eventually ended up as overall supervisor of all advanced weapons, but a supervisor, meaning a good supervisor, would require a familiarity with every piece of equipment.

If some in the German leadership were afraid to actually use atomic weapons for fear of massive retaliation, this would have been a sensible response. Keep in mind that after the 20 July 1944 attempt on his life, Hitler grew to distrust the Army High Command and turned to the SS, who were already the primary security force guarding all advanced weapon projects. A CIOS report indicates that the idea of 'prototypes' is not credible. CIOS Report XXXII-125 German Guided Missile Research. It mentions rockets other than the V-2 or A-4 (German designation). "A-11, A-12, A-13, A-14 further development models of the A9/10 with 3500 mile range. Long-range rockets for attacks on the United States. A-15: This probably never left the drawing board."

So, it's unambiguous, rockets were produced after the V-2 specifically for attacks against the United States.

A recently declassified document indicates that the U.S. captured more than just garden variety V-2s. Brig. Gen. George McDonald stated: “It is recommended, that this paper be forwarded to Headquarters, Army Air Forces, with the idea of selecting targets of the above mentioned types for secret experiment of rocket propelled atomic bomb.”

AFHRA, Reel C5098, Headquarters USAFE, Office of Asst. Chief of Staff A-2, to Major Ernst Englander, A.C., 2. November 1945, Subject: German Underground Installations, p. 2.

Where did the United States get a rocket propelled atomic bomb? This would explain an article written by General Henry "Hap" Arnold that appeared in the November 19, 1945 issue of Life magazine titled The 36-Hour War, where he refers to rockets with atomic warheads as "present equipment." An illustration from a distance of 3,000 miles above the earth shows multiple lines that show "The Atom Bombs Descend On U.S."

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 18 Aug 2023 21:34

"Fiebinger held at least two contracts with the War Department, numbered W49-129-eng-130 and W49-129-eng-59.[22] In a letter dated September 22, 1948, Merrit W. Mathews, Assistant Engineer in the Intelligence Division of Military Operations acknowledged Fiebinger had provided 'data concerning underground installations in Austria and Germany by interrogation. The data provided has been incorporated in the final report on foreign underground installations.' ”[23]

"Mathews further recommended Fiebinger to other agencies, noting the engineer’s experience constructing underground factories at 'Schlier, Ebensee, St. Gerogen [sic] a/d Gusen, and Melk.' ”[24]

"Although Fiebinger resided in the United States and continued as a consultant for the War Department for several years,[25] according to Austrian historians Freund and Perz, after assisting the U.S. in constructing underground launch pads for intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles, Fiebinger participated in lucrative building projects in Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s, which were partly financed by Austrian foreign aid credits.[26]"

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 18 Aug 2023 22:23

ewest89 wrote:
18 Aug 2023 21:19
William,

These so-called "last gasp" attacks were carefully planned. The German leadership wanted to win the war, of course, but Allied bombing of all suspected atomic project sites caused some delays. SS General Kammler was ordered to get critical German weapon projects moved underground. And he eventually ended up as overall supervisor of all advanced weapons, but a supervisor, meaning a good supervisor, would require a familiarity with every piece of equipment.

If some in the German leadership were afraid to actually use atomic weapons for fear of massive retaliation, this would have been a sensible response. Keep in mind that after the 20 July 1944 attempt on his life, Hitler grew to distrust the Army High Command and turned to the SS, who were already the primary security force guarding all advanced weapon projects. A CIOS report indicates that the idea of 'prototypes' is not credible. CIOS Report XXXII-125 German Guided Missile Research. It mentions rockets other than the V-2 or A-4 (German designation). "A-11, A-12, A-13, A-14 further development models of the A9/10 with 3500 mile range. Long-range rockets for attacks on the United States. A-15: This probably never left the drawing board."

So, it's unambiguous, rockets were produced after the V-2 specifically for attacks against the United States.

A recently declassified document indicates that the U.S. captured more than just garden variety V-2s. Brig. Gen. George McDonald stated: “It is recommended, that this paper be forwarded to Headquarters, Army Air Forces, with the idea of selecting targets of the above mentioned types for secret experiment of rocket propelled atomic bomb.”

AFHRA, Reel C5098, Headquarters USAFE, Office of Asst. Chief of Staff A-2, to Major Ernst Englander, A.C., 2. November 1945, Subject: German Underground Installations, p. 2.

Where did the United States get a rocket propelled atomic bomb? This would explain an article written by General Henry "Hap" Arnold that appeared in the November 19, 1945 issue of Life magazine titled The 36-Hour War, where he refers to rockets with atomic warheads as "present equipment." An illustration from a distance of 3,000 miles above the earth shows multiple lines that show "The Atom Bombs Descend On U.S."
---------------------------------------------------

Englander was directly involved in the interrogation of SS General-Ing Hans Kammler, so it is no surprise to see him turn up in your A-2 (USAAF Intelligence) document talking about a "rocket propelled atomic bomb".

The question of how many German ICBM's were completed and how much fissile material was actually produced is, to my mind, the most crucial one yet to be definitively answered. To this point I have gone with Grothmann's account as corroborated by the piles of evidence unearthed by Todd Rider. However: Hydrick's insistence that the uranium cargo of U-234 was in fact enriched uranium would seem to fly in the face of some of Grothmann's assertions. Certainly if it was already enriched to weapons grade then Grothmann was either lying even to his neighbor who interviewed him at the end of his life, OR the German submarine was carrying fissile material that was produced by another branch of the nuclear weapons program, one with which Grothmann was not familiar. Given the demonstrable truthfulness of everything that Grothmann said which has been extensively corroborated to date, I favor the latter explanation.

The most likely candidate to have produced hundreds of kilos of enriched uranium rather than the apparent few dozen described by Grothmann is the German Navy, the kriegsmarine. Nearly all NARA files concerning Otto Haxel, apparently the lead nuclear physicist in that branch of the German military, are completely off limits to this day. Haxel's colleague, another world class scientist named Pascual Jordan, is likewise almost a ghost in terms of publicly available postwar documentation, and yet Jordan was mentioned by name---along with Siegfried Flugge---in the "Tonizo Report", which is a 23 page dossier that documents a series of lectures given by Dr. Yoshio Nishina during WWII. Nishina was the lead scientist for most of the war years in the Japanese Army's atomic bomb project, code named "Ni". Further, there were extensive efforts by the navies of Germany, Japan, Italy, and possibly other Axis powers to connect the Axis nations involved in their own attempt to develop nuclear weapons.

If Hydrick is right, then the Germans were on the cusp of completing a sizable nuclear arsenal, at least dozens of weapons as opposed to the maximum of 9---possibly including 6 prototypes---described by Grothmann and the sources in his orbit. Keeping in mind that 5 of the 6 prototypes were expended in tests (one of which failed, possibly leading to the sacking of Abraham Esau as Reich Plenipotentiary for Physics), that would leave a maximum of 1 remaining prototype plus 3 tactical nuclear weapons and 1 incomplete strategic weapon which was captured by Patton's Third Army near Ohrdruf in April, 1945. Grothmann stated that a "hastily assembled" uranium warhead could have been built for an attempted strike against the US east coast, so presumably there was sufficient material to make another device, which would make a total of 6 at war's end. Rochus Misch said "there were nine (special bombs)" but it is unclear whether he did or did not mean there were 9 including the 6 prototypes.

We already know for certain that Kammler traded something truly substantial to the United States at war's end in exchange for his life. Even the Grothmann scenario is shocking, but Hydrick? If he is correct, it opens the door to the possibility of much wider ranging secret negotiations between the US and the SS and possibly other entities in Germany at that time.

Dr. Rider summarizes on page 4010 of Forgotten Creators:

"(T)he United States concealed the fact that Kammler was alive after the war, shielded him from prosecution, and relied on his knowledge and assistance. Moreover, the United States has tried to keep that secret for 75+ years. Kammler must have offered the United States information that was especially useful—and especially damning—to have justified such extraordinary measures. Details of the German nuclear program would qualify as sufficiently important information."
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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 18 Aug 2023 22:58

ewest89 wrote:
18 Aug 2023 21:34
"Fiebinger held at least two contracts with the War Department, numbered W49-129-eng-130 and W49-129-eng-59.[22] In a letter dated September 22, 1948, Merrit W. Mathews, Assistant Engineer in the Intelligence Division of Military Operations acknowledged Fiebinger had provided 'data concerning underground installations in Austria and Germany by interrogation. The data provided has been incorporated in the final report on foreign underground installations.' ”[23]

"Mathews further recommended Fiebinger to other agencies, noting the engineer’s experience constructing underground factories at 'Schlier, Ebensee, St. Gerogen [sic] a/d Gusen, and Melk.' ”[24]

"Although Fiebinger resided in the United States and continued as a consultant for the War Department for several years,[25] according to Austrian historians Freund and Perz, after assisting the U.S. in constructing underground launch pads for intercontinental nuclear ballistic missiles, Fiebinger participated in lucrative building projects in Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s, which were partly financed by Austrian foreign aid credits.[26]"
Sounds like Fiebinger was very good at his profession. Do you have "the final report on foreign underground installations" in your files, and if so, are you willing to share it?

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 18 Aug 2023 23:08

If you look at Hydrick's book, the ultracentrifuge was one method. Manfred von Ardenne developed the plasma-ionic separation device. which was superior. So you have two ways to separate out U235 from a given amount of uranium. If you can read German, get Kernfusion und Kernwaffenentwicklung by Rolf-Günter Hauk (Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Weapon Development). It makes the following reference: Dr. Otto Haxel, Ehemals TH Berlin. Forschung Marine, Deuterium Experiment (Formerly TH Berlin. Research Navy, Deuterium Experiment). And it also mentions those working with him (Arbeitsgruppe): Dr. Helmut Volz, Dr. Luise Schützmeister, Dr. Erika Leimert and Dr. Hirt.

The German atomic program was compartmentalized. The Reichspost had von Ardenne for example. There was the threat of the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) and the American OSS (Office of strategic Services). The British T-Force was a highly secret group that would enter areas where the shooting was still going on. It appears their lives were second in importance to locating and securing documents, equipment and personnel. The SS was involved in destroying documents and equipment.

It appears the German Navy had their own separation equipment. I trust Grothmann's account but only Hans Kammler had the complete picture. His Sonderstab Kammler was a secret shadow branch of the SS. He was given such power that no one could question or refuse his commands, including Party members. No wonder initial reports that had him dying by suicide at the end of the war were circulated. He had to completely disappear.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 18 Aug 2023 23:21

I do not have the report you mention. However, a three part report titled German Underground Installations was published in 1945.

Part One
German Underground Installations: Unique design and construction methods
Part Two
German Underground Installations: Adaptations of existing facilities
Part Three
German Underground Installations: Various installations of general interest

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 18 Aug 2023 23:41

ewest89 wrote:
18 Aug 2023 23:08
If you look at Hydrick's book, the ultracentrifuge was one method. Manfred von Ardenne developed the plasma-ionic separation device. which was superior. So you have two ways to separate out U235 from a given amount of uranium. If you can read German, get Kernfusion und Kernwaffenentwicklung by Rolf-Günter Hauk (Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Weapon Development). It makes the following reference: Dr. Otto Haxel, Ehemals TH Berlin. Forschung Marine, Deuterium Experiment (Formerly TH Berlin. Research Navy, Deuterium Experiment). And it also mentions those working with him (Arbeitsgruppe): Dr. Helmut Volz, Dr. Luise Schützmeister, Dr. Erika Leimert and Dr. Hirt.

The German atomic program was compartmentalized. The Reichspost had von Ardenne for example. There was the threat of the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) and the American OSS (Office of strategic Services). The British T-Force was a highly secret group that would enter areas where the shooting was still going on. It appears their lives were second in importance to locating and securing documents, equipment and personnel. The SS was involved in destroying documents and equipment.

It appears the German Navy had their own separation equipment. I trust Grothmann's account but only Hans Kammler had the complete picture. His Sonderstab Kammler was a secret shadow branch of the SS. He was given such power that no one could question or refuse his commands, including Party members. No wonder initial reports that had him dying by suicide at the end of the war were circulated. He had to completely disappear.
Fantastic information, ed, thank you. I noticed Hauk's book about two or three years ago but did not purchase a copy at that time (I don't read much German but was hoping to get someone to translate it for me). It vanished from the internet for the better part of a year, and then reappeared, if memory serves, sometime in 2022. I have never before encountered the names you mention here alongside Haxel. Just more proof that the deeper you dig into this whole thing, the further Heisenberg fades into the periphery. Even though I am 100% certain he knew much more about nuclear weapons than he ever let on at Farm Hall, he was still not one of the most important German physicists.

There are various references scattered around concerning "the war in the shadows". One of Himmler's wartime Muslim contacts spoke of it, for example. I have seen maybe one or two other references to Sonderstab Kammler but know next to nothing about it. Do you know if Erich Purucker was part of it? According to Wilhelm Voss, Purucker was Kammler's top assistant for secret weapons development that was being done at the Skoda works. What about the factory and scientists in Czechoslovakia that were building cyclotrons and possibly other particle accelerators? And, do you know anything about the German attempt to employ electronuclear breeding to produce plutonium and possibly also U-233?
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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 18 Aug 2023 23:43

ewest89 wrote:
18 Aug 2023 23:21
I do not have the report you mention. However, a three part report titled German Underground Installations was published in 1945.

Part One
German Underground Installations: Unique design and construction methods
Part Two
German Underground Installations: Adaptations of existing facilities
Part Three
German Underground Installations: Various installations of general interest
Many thanks. Do you know which branch of US intelligence or officialdom produced the report you just mentioned, and do you know who wrote the "final report"?

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 19 Aug 2023 00:11

The Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency produced German Underground Installations. I don't know who produced the other report.

Plutonium was produced in Germany. U238 captures a neutron and becomes U239. The U239 then loses an electron and becomes Neptunium 239. In the same way, Neptunium 239 becomes Plutonium 239. I have some scattered references to what was going on in Czechoslovakia during the war. Keep in mind that Hitler declared Bohemia and Moravia to be Protectorates. Stamps with Hitler's image were even issued. Uranium was mined at Joachimsthal. The Russians would begin mining operations there after the war.

The University at Brno was taken over. The WAFFENWERKE BRÜNN A.G is a mystery. I don't know the name Purucker.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 19 Aug 2023 00:20

Purucker was driving a literal carload of atomic bomb plans when he was captured by the Soviets while attempting to flee to American lines. He was described as Kammler's top assistant at the Skoda Works. That's in one of the intelligence documents I posted upthread, in this case a report that was not declassified until 2006.

JIOA is a very rich source, indeed, as are the CIOS papers.

Grothmann said that WWII Germany attempted to produce plutonium via electronuclear breeding (modified particle accelerators). He stated that someone told him after the war there was enough plutonium for "one or two bombs" but that he did not believe them. He was quite skeptical that this process ever produced any bomb-usable quantities of fissile material, though Grothmann was not a scientist and we know from other sources that it is a viable approach. I just wonder what prompted the Germans to conclude that they should invest considerable time, money, and resources into electronuclear breeding when they had completed at least a pilot heavy water reactor by mid-1944 (per Manhattan Project foreign intelligence). This may or may not have been a misstep that might even have cost them the war, though perhaps they were thinking they ought to try everything they could, and also that bomb fuel produced by this method would require much less in the way of reprocessing and might even be usable as is.

I know nothing about the University at Brno, nor the Waffenwerke Brunn A. G., though I presume the Weapons Works would have been at least nominally under Goering's control.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 19 Aug 2023 00:44

In regard to Carter Hydrick and his book, Critical Mass, I got his book yesterday.

OMG what a dreck of a book that is...

Most of what is being discussed here with regards to it are chapters based by the end notes, on just two secondary sources: Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, and The German Atomic Bomb by David Irving. So, he has on populist history and one by a known Nazi apologist and Holocaust denier.

As for content, Hydrick never gets too specific about much of anything. A key issue with regard to this thread is the uranium onboard U-234. There was indisputably 1150 lbs. of it aboard. Hydrick claims it was highly enriched without further proof other than it was labeled "U-235" by the Germans. He does try hard to justify this by making a number of shallow claims about German enrichment methods and their supposed superiority to US ones. He never gets into specifics and often just gets things wrong.

For example, he discusses Dr. Erich Bagge and an "isotope sluice" he developed. This device is a variant on the centrifuge method and was patented by Bagge in 1955. It was never adopted for commercial use, and remains an obscure, alternative, and likely less efficient--why it wasn't adopted--method of isotope separation.

At another point, in chapter 6, Timing he brings up, what to him is a mysterious, various called "Commander, Lt. Commander, Mr." Alvarez. This shows the shallowness of his research. This person is clearly, and with no doubt, Luis W. Alvarez a US physicist who started at the Rad Lab at MIT, went to Britain, and at both made very big advancements in radar technology. He then went to Los Alamos as one of Oppenheimer's inner circle of advisors and was commissioned as a Lt. Colonel (the equivalent of a US Navy Commander) and was present at the Trinity test and also went to Tinian to supervise the assembly of the nuclear weapons used on Japan. Hydrick even at one point dismisses that it could have been him, showing little knowledge in his background.

But then again, mystery makes better conspiracy theories...

On the whole, I dismiss Hydrick's conclusions as based on all the "If's" in the world.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 19 Aug 2023 00:53

Read the whole thing and checked all of his sources already, have we? Watched his presentation at Oak Ridge?

But, yeah sure okay whatever. Now let's see if you read Rider. He was good enough to be invited to speak to the Smithsonian, but evidently doesn't pass muster with you, amirite?

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 19 Aug 2023 01:05

Oh, one of the devices Luis Alvarez invented was a detector that could determine if a nuclear reactor was working from an overflight of the area suspected. From mid 1944 on, the US was sending aircraft equipped with this detector (another type of ELINT mission) over Germany but none of the flights ever found anything.

So, the US was looking for a German nuclear program even before they overran the country and couldn't find any evidence of one...

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 19 Aug 2023 01:06

williamjpellas wrote:
19 Aug 2023 00:53
Read the whole thing and checked all of his sources already, have we? Watched his presentation at Oak Ridge?

But, yeah sure okay whatever. Now let's see if you read Rider. He was good enough to be invited to speak to the Smithsonian, but evidently doesn't pass muster with you, amirite?
I can't speak to Rider's books--three volumes it appears--as I haven't read them.

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