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 » 19 Aug 2023 01:11

I can't speak to Rider's books--three volumes it appears--as I haven't read them.

I posted a number of original primary source documents upthread including declassified top secret intelligence reports from WWII that are cited by Rider. They are the merest scratching of the surface, but according to you, they're all part of the "conspiracy", then? Readily dismissed by you in less than a day? What do they say and mean if they don't say and mean what they say and mean, and why?

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 19 Aug 2023 01:34

williamjpellas wrote:
19 Aug 2023 01:11
I can't speak to Rider's books--three volumes it appears--as I haven't read them.

I posted a number of original primary source documents upthread including declassified top secret intelligence reports from WWII that are cited by Rider. They are the merest scratching of the surface, but according to you, they're all part of the "conspiracy", then? Readily dismissed by you in less than a day? What do they say and mean if they don't say and mean what they say and mean, and why?
You should read them more carefully. None of them state anything beyond conjecture, suspicions, and rumors. That's not uncommon in spying. You'd need far more to prove your case than what they contain.

For example, I'm currently researching early SAM systems. The CIA reports on the developments related to the S-25 Berkut system, now mostly declassified, are in far greater detail than what you present. There are descriptions by agents of the radar in operation including sketches, descriptions of the launch sites, etc. They present solid, hard facts that can be verified today.

Nothing in your stuff does that.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 19 Aug 2023 01:40

T. A. Gardner wrote:
19 Aug 2023 01:34
williamjpellas wrote:
19 Aug 2023 01:11
I can't speak to Rider's books--three volumes it appears--as I haven't read them.

I posted a number of original primary source documents upthread including declassified top secret intelligence reports from WWII that are cited by Rider. They are the merest scratching of the surface, but according to you, they're all part of the "conspiracy", then? Readily dismissed by you in less than a day? What do they say and mean if they don't say and mean what they say and mean, and why?
You should read them more carefully. None of them state anything beyond conjecture, suspicions, and rumors. That's not uncommon in spying. You'd need far more to prove your case than what they contain.

For example, I'm currently researching early SAM systems. The CIA reports on the developments related to the S-25 Berkut system, now mostly declassified, are in far greater detail than what you present. There are descriptions by agents of the radar in operation including sketches, descriptions of the launch sites, etc. They present solid, hard facts that can be verified today.

Nothing in your stuff does that.
If you're doing quote, research, unquote, I hope you are more diligent and dramatically more honest than you demonstrate here. Have a nice day, sir.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 19 Aug 2023 01:56

T. A. Gardner wrote:
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...
And your documentation which corroborates your assertions? Where is that? You'll forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical that WWII era ELINT "sniffers" would be able to comprehensively cover all of Germany and German-held territory---especially with Soviet Yaks flitting around here and there and with most known (yes, known) German nuclear facilities buried deep underground by 1944 at the latest.

I could go on, but I'm not going to. Not with you. Adios.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 20 Aug 2023 03:55

Let's look at Hydrich pg 56 - 57 where he discusses enrichment of uranium. He discusses Bagge's isotope sluice. He claims that it was four times as efficient as the US gaseous diffusion method, but we know that Bagge patented his method in 1955 and it was never adopted commercially or otherwise by anyone. If it was so efficient why is that?
It argues that Bagge's claims are grossly exaggerated, and his method wasn't more efficient despite his claims otherwise.

He mentions the German use of an alloy called "Bondur." This is a near equivalent of an ASTM 316L austenitic nickel stainless steel. The US and Britain had equivalent stainless steels and better ones like Monel and Inconel. So, Hydrich's claim that the Germans had some big advantage in non-corrosive alloys for uranium enrichment is nonsense.

On the whole, it is likely that the Germans did try to enrich uranium by several methods. It is also equally likely that given the limited facilities for this, that they didn't get to any large amount of weapons grade uranium and certainly not enough for a bomb. I will cede that it is possible that the material aboard U-234 was to some degree enriched, but I won't say it was anywhere near enough to make a weapon from. That requires about 90% enrichment.

I will also say that his claims that it could be differentiated from refined uranium oxide ore is nonsense. The two would emit similar levels of mostly alpha radiation detectable by a scintillation radiation detector as the decay rate of the various uranium isotopes is nearly identical.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by rcocean » 20 Aug 2023 04:19

The Germans never made a serious effort to build an A-bomb, and if they had, would've had to do what the USA did, create a massive billion dollar project employing thousands of engineers and highly trained personnel. At its most intense the Manhattan project was employing over 100,000 people. Germany didn't have the time or the resources to do that.

Doing experiments and lab work is one thing. Building plants to create enough U-235/plutonium-239 and design/build a practical nuculear bomb or warhead is quite another.

American intelligence consistently over-estimated the Germans ability to build a bomb, primarily because the people who had indepth knowledge about nuclear fission weren't given access to Ultra and other top level intelligence. And the people who were given access, didn't know what to look for. Had Groves, for example, been given access to all the best intelligence, he would've instantly realized there was no German "Manhattan project".

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by williamjpellas » 20 Aug 2023 04:50

You did read the reports I posted earlier in the thread. Right?

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 20 Aug 2023 20:19

rcocean wrote:
20 Aug 2023 04:19
The Germans never made a serious effort to build an A-bomb, and if they had, would've had to do what the USA did, create a massive billion dollar project employing thousands of engineers and highly trained personnel. At its most intense the Manhattan project was employing over 100,000 people. Germany didn't have the time or the resources to do that.

Doing experiments and lab work is one thing. Building plants to create enough U-235/plutonium-239 and design/build a practical nuculear bomb or warhead is quite another.

American intelligence consistently over-estimated the Germans ability to build a bomb, primarily because the people who had indepth knowledge about nuclear fission weren't given access to Ultra and other top level intelligence. And the people who were given access, didn't know what to look for. Had Groves, for example, been given access to all the best intelligence, he would've instantly realized there was no German "Manhattan project".
You are writing fiction. The words Heisenberg and Farm Hall are now part of an incantation, but not to ward off evil but the facts.

During the war, it was the Americans who got it wrong. Germany had made rapid progress. First, by building the Ultracentrifuge and then, at the Reichspost, developing a plasma-ionic separation device. The developer, Manfred von Ardenne, would be captured by the Russians, along with his device, to continue the same work in the Soviet Union after the war.

The Americans were in trouble in March, 1945. Manhattan Project supervisor James F. Byrnes sent a letter to President Roosevelt recommending a halt to the project so that it could undergo scientific review. To that point $2 billion had been spent with no guarantee of production. That letter is in the FDR Library.

And then there is the mantra about Germany not having the money or time. In Physics and National Socialism, documents from the Bundesarchiv were published, including expenditures. But due to a strong desire to limit actual research to books that can be found at the local bookshop, no actual research has been mentioned here by those who subscribe to this particular belief system.

In point of fact, the massive American undertaking boiled down to a separation process that was inferior to what the Germans had developed. A lot of workers were employed but every gram had to be accounted for at the end of the day. Workers' clothing had to be inspected for any trace of Uranium, and the output would not produce enough fissile material to drop two bombs on Japan later in the war.

It's all in the book Critical Mass by Carter P. Hydrick who also includes copies of actual production documents proving his point.

You claim to know that those who were receiving this intelligence limited access to others. Based on what? And they didn't know what to look for? Seriously?

"In attempting to locate plants that might be used to produce bomb material, Oppenheimer advised that they were unlikely to be 'smaller than one city block' and would require large amounts of power. In addition, it was likely that any plants would be heavily guarded, out of bombing range from Britain, and not too near the Russian border - making Bohemia a likely location. If the Germans were to operate a reactor for the production of plutonium, 'they will be operating it where water is plentiful and where the flow from the plant passes either through open country or through country inhabited by an "inferior race" whom they don't mind killing off.'

"Oppenheimer also noted that a large chemical company, such as I.G. Farben, could carry out a bomb program. In that case 'it would be quite possible to conceal the plant among other war projects on the grounds of the company.' While the need to keep unwitting employees in the dark about such activities seemed to mitigate against such an approach, 'it may not be ruled out.' Further complicating the intelligence task was the fact that 'the physical nature of the plant is sufficiently flexible so that external inspection can probably not identify it.' "

Spying on the Bomb by Jeffrey T. Richelson, pp. 33 and 34. ISBN 0-393-05383-0

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 21 Aug 2023 05:56

Actually, having read Hydirck's book now, none of that is true, it's all speculative. All the above, Hydrick almost entirely sources back to a single book: Richard Rhodes, Making of the Atomic Bomb. I also don't get why he thinks that Hanford needed enriched uranium for anything. You don't need it to operate a graphite moderated fast fission reactor, nor do you need it to produce Pu 239. That can all be done with unenriched, refined uranium.

Workers at Oak Ridge would have had to have undergone a thorough inspection before leaving work in any case. They wouldn't want uranium of any sort, or any other radioactive material getting spread around carelessly.

Getting back to Hydrick, he doesn't give any real details to anything related to German enrichment programs. Instead, it is all vague claims. For example, exactly how many of the so-called "ultracentrifuges" were produced? One, a dozen? We're not told. We're not told what company(s) made them. How big were they? What was their capacity? It's all just they had them and German claims of their efficiency are accepted at face value.

If you look up the history of ultracentrifuges, they are lab sized machines that wouldn't be suitable for mass production of weapons grade uranium. The device was invented in 1924 by Theodor Svedberg in Sweden, so it was known beyond Germany by the 1940's. That means the US could have used this system if they wanted to. The obvious reason they didn't is it won't scale up to production levels necessary for building nuclear bombs.

At large scale, the ultracentrifuge is problematic due to its high speed of operation. The slightest imbalance in the rotating parts, and it flies apart. The point I'm making here is that Hydrick single sourced his commentary without even bothering to look up the details of the machinery he's talking about.

So, the question circles back to exactly how many operating enrichment systems the Germans had and what their capacity was. I see this as never getting an answer. Instead, it is danced around with vague generalities and lots of speculation.

Germany didn't have the time or money to put into a massive nuclear program. Speer in getting production where he did in late 1943 through 1944 did so by using up pretty much all of Germany's strategic reserves of materials. The downside to that was if the war continued, Germany would have had nothing left to produce many things with.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 21 Aug 2023 16:09

Then you've read an entirely different book. He reproduces documents that show how much "U-powder" was being produced. The American separation process was inferior. Your reference to Richard Rhodes ignores the documents that have been posted up-thread. I suppose you can claim they don't exist, but that wouldn't be logical.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by T. A. Gardner » 21 Aug 2023 16:22

ewest89 wrote:
21 Aug 2023 16:09
Then you've read an entirely different book. He reproduces documents that show how much "U-powder" was being produced. The American separation process was inferior. Your reference to Richard Rhodes ignores the documents that have been posted up-thread. I suppose you can claim they don't exist, but that wouldn't be logical.
Really? Give me a page number. Which chapter are these in? The documents you claim he uses aren't in the chapter end notes which on enrichment are dominated by citations of Rhodes' book.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 21 Aug 2023 16:32

I have the first edition. A summary of production is on page 34. You might be interested to know that I know who produced the ultracentrifuge. There is a photo of the ultracentrifuge in the German book I mentioned previously. I find that what Richard Rhodes wrote to be entirely at odds with the facts. I also have expenditures for the German atomic program. It may interest you to know that all that slave labor available to the Germans was used for uranium mining, the uranium enrichment project and for very-large scale construction projects. Keeping important technology underground in bomb-proof shelters actually happened.

It may interest you to know that I am writing The Complete Guide to the German Atomic Program - with Pictures. But then again, in your case, it might not.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by rcocean » 21 Aug 2023 16:52

People keep hinting around and making grand generalizations. We know how long it took to build a USA A-bomb and how many BILLIONS it took. The USSR after WWII despite having all the "Secrets" to buidling an A-bomb, and captured German Scientists, and making it their Number 1 priority -stlll took 4 years.

There's nothing that indicates the germans had enough fissional material or were anywhere to close to building a plant to produce it. And even if they had, they hadn't even started on building a usable A-Bomb or Warhead. Or traing the Luftwaffe on how to drop it, or how to fit it on V-1 or V-2. Nuclear bombs are EXPENSIVE. Iran still doesn't have one. Producing documents and waving your hands and proclaiming the Germans had figured it all out, is fine. But again, it ignores the massive engineering and technical program required to translate that into a USUABLE nuclear bomb. And you need more than 1.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by rcocean » 21 Aug 2023 17:01

And backtracking: It wouldn've made no sense for Hitler or Speer in 1942 or 1943 to pour zillions of RM's into a nuclear weapons program on the off-chance it might produce a A-Bomb in 1944 or 1945. People forget the Manhattan Project had no impact on defeating Germany. It came too late. And we would defeated japan in 45, A-bomb or no A=bomb.

Even after all the money had been spent and everyone was sure of their calculations, Oppenheimer and Groves still weren't 100 percent it would work, and were worried about duds. One reason they were against advance notice to dropping the A-bomb is they were afraid it wouldn't work, and the USA would have egg on its face.

To say with HINDSIGHT that this or that method of producing fissionable material was wrong is just hindsight. The Manhattan project deliberately worked on 4 different methods because they wanted to make sure at least one of them produced the needed plutonium. And according to the USA army history, 3 of these methods were useful in producing enough fissionable material. So yes, the Germans didn't have to spend the same amount of Money as the USA did. They could have focused on the one method that was the best. But that still would've taken too long and cost too much, given the German situation in 42/43. At that time they needed aircraft and tanks, not an A-bomb in 1945.

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Re: German Atomic Weapons Program

Post by ewest89 » 21 Aug 2023 17:04

I see. So all those documents up-thread are now invisible? A great deal has been published in German language books, including declassified American documents. All with unambiguous information. I refer you to the odd American custom of sticking your fingers in your ears, saying "la, la, la, I can't hear you," followed by attempting to ignore what the other person is saying.

Why hasn't North Korea or Iran actually launched anything with a nuclear warhead? They both know they face the immediate wrath of the United States who would level both their countries in 24 hours with no need to use actual nuclear weapons.

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