"The traditional history denies,
however, that the uranium on board U-234 was enriched and therefore
easily usable in an atomic bomb. The accepted theory asserts there
is no evidence that the uranium stocks of U-234 were transferred
into the Manhattan Project... And the traditional history asserts
that the bomb components on board (the) U-234 arrived too late to
be included in the atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan.
"The documentation indicates
quite differently on all accounts. "
Carter P. Hydrick
The Real Story of the Atomic Bomb and the Birth of the Nuclear Age.'
In December of 1944, an unhappy report is made to
some unhappy people:
"A study of the shipment of (bomb grade
uranium) for the past three months shows the following....: At present
rate we will have 10 kilos about February 7 and 15 kilos about May
This was bad news indeed, for a uranium
based atom bomb required between 10-100 kilograms by the earliest
estimates (ca. 1942), and, by the time this memo was written, about
50 kilos, the more accurate calculation of critical mass needed to
make an atom bomb from uranium.
One may imagine the consternation this memo must
have caused at headquarters. The was, perhaps, a considerable degree
of yelling and screaming and finger pointing and other histrionics,
interlarded with desperate orders to re-double efforts amid the fire-
tinged skies of the war's Wagnerian Gotterdammerung.
Hydrick, Critical Mass: the Real Story of the Atomic Bomb and the
Birth of the Nuclear Age, Internet published manuscript,
1998, p. 6.
2 Ibid., p. 11.
The problem, however, is that the memo is not German
at all. It originates within the Manhattan Project on December 28,
1944, from Eric Jette, the chief metallurgist at Los Alamos. One may
imagine the desperation it must have triggered, however, since the
Manhattan Project had consumed two billion dollars all in the pursuit
of plutonium and uranium atom bombs. By this time it was of course
apparent that there were significant and seemingly insurmountable
problems in designing a plutonium bomb, for the fuses available to
the Allies were simply far too slow to achieve the uniform compression
of a plutonium core within the very short span of time needed to initiate
uncontrolled nuclear fission.
That left the uranium bomb as the more immediately
feasible alternative - as the Germans had discovered years earlier
- to the acquisition of a functioning weapon within the projected
span of the war. Yet, after a veritable hemorrhage of dollars in pursuit
of the latter objective, the Manhattan Project was far short of the
necessary critical mass for a uranium bomb. And with the inevitability
of an invasion of Japan looming, the pressure on General Leslie Groves
to produce results was immense.
The lack of a sufficient stockpile, after years of
concentrated all-out effort, was in part explainable, for two years
earlier Fermi had been successful in construction of the first functioning
atomic reactor. That success had spurred the American project to commit
more seriously to the pursuit of a plutonium bomb. Accordingly, some
of the precious and scarce refined and enriched uranium 235 coming
out of Oak Ridge and Lawrence's beta calutrons was being siphoned
off as feedstock for enrichment and transmutation into plutonium in
the breeder reactors constructed at Handford, Washington for the purpose.
Thus, some of the fissionable uranium stockpile had been deliberately
diverted for plutonium production.3 The decision
was a logical one and the Manhattan Project decision- makers cannot
be faulted to taking it. The reason is simple. Pound for weapons grade
pound, a pound of plutonium will produce more bombs than a pound of
uranium. It thus made economic sense to convert enriched uranium to
plutonium, for more bombs would be possible with the same amount of
3 Hydrick, op. cit, p. 12.
But in December of 1944, having pursued
both options, General Leslie Groves now stood on the verge of losing
both gambles. And let us not forget what had just happened in Europe to sour the
mood of "those in the know" in the United States even further.
There, six months after the Allied landings in Normandy and the headlong
dash across France, Allied armies had stalled on the borders of the
Reich. Allied intelligence analysts confidently reassured the generals
that no further significant German military offensive was possible,
and their optimism was reflected in the general mood of the citizenry
in France, Britain, and the United States.
The mood was brutally shattered
when, on December 16, 1944, the German Army and Luftwaffe mounted
one last, desperate offensive with secretly husbanded reserves in
the Ardennes forest, scene of their 1940 triumph against France. Within
a matter of hours, the offensive had broken through American lines,
surrounded, captured, or otherwise decimated the entire 116th American
infantry division, and days later, surrounded the 101st Airborne division
at Bastogne, and appeared well on the way to crossing the Meuse River
at Namur. On December 28, 1944, when the memo was written, the German
offensive had been stalled, but not stopped.
For the Allied officers privy to intelligence reports
and "in the loop" on the Manhattan Project, the offensive
was possibly seen as confirmation of their worst fears: the Germans
were close to a bomb, and were trying to buy time. The horrible thought
in the back of every Allied scientist's and engineer's head must have
been that after all the Allied military successes of the previous
years, the race for the bomb could still be won by the Germans.
if they were able to produce enough of them to put unbearable pressure
on any one of the Western Allies, the outcome of the war itself was
still in doubt. If, for example, the Germans had a-bombed British
and French cities, it is unlikely that a continuance of the would
have been politically feasible for Churchill's wartime coalition government.
In all likelihood it would have collapsed. A similar result would
have likely occurred in France. And without British and French bases
available for supply and forward deployment, the American military situation on the continent would
have become untenable, if not disastrous.
In any case, word of the Manhattan Project's difficulties
apparently leaked in the Washington DC political community, for United
States Senator James F. Byrnes got in on the act, writing a memorandum
to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and confirming that the Manhattan
Project was perceived - at least by some in the know - as being in
danger of failure:
SECRET March 3, 1945
MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT
FROM: JAMES F. BYRNES
I understand that the expenditures for the Manhattan
project are approaching 2 billion dollars with no definite assurance
yet of production.
We have succeeded to date in obtaining the cooperation
of Congressional Committees in secret meetings. Perhaps
we can continue to do so while the war lasts.
However, if the project proves a failure, it will
be subjected to relentless criticism.4
4 Memorandum of US Senator James F.
Byrnes to President Frankliin D. Roosevelt, March 3, 1945, cited in
Harald Fath, Geheime Kommandosache -S III Jonastal und die Siegeswaffenproduktion:
Weitere spurensuche nach Thuringens Manhattan Project (Schleusingen:
Amun Verlag, 2000), p. 41.
Senator Brynes' memorandum highlights the real problem
in the Manhattan Project, and the real, though certainly not publicly
known, military situation of the Allies ca. late 1944 and early 1945:
that in spite of tremendous conventional military success against
the Third Reich, the Western Allies and Soviet Russia could conceivably
still be forced to a "draw" if Germany deployed and used
atom bombs in sufficient numbers to affect the political situation
of the Western Allies.
Senator Byrnes' March
1945 Memorandum to President Roosevelt
With its stockpile of enriched uranium
already depleted by the decision to develop more plutonium for a
bomb (which as it turned out was undetonatable with existing British and American fuse technology
anyway) and far below that needed for a uranium-based atom bomb, "the
entire enterprise appeared destined for defeat."5
Not only defeat, but for "those in the know" in late 1944
and early 1945, the possibility was one of ignominious defeat and
5 Hydrick, op. cit, p. 13.
If the stocks of weapons grade uranium ca. late 1944
- early 1945 were about half of what they needed to be after two years
of research and production, and if this in turn was the cause of Senator
How then did the Manhattan Project acquire the large
remaining amount or uranium 235 needed in the few months from March
to the dropping of the Little Boy bomb on Hiroshima in August, only
five months away?
How did it accomplish this feat, if in feet after
some three years of production it had only produced less than half
of the needed supply of critical mass weapons grade uranium?
did its missing uranium 235 come from?
And how did it solve the pressing
problem of the fuses for a plutonium bomb?
Of course the answer if that if the Manhattan Project
was incapable of producing enough enriched uranium in that short amount
of time - months rather than years - then its stocks had to have been
supplemented from external sources, and there is only one viable place
with the necessary technology to enrich uranium on that scale, as
seen in the previous chapter. That source was Nazi Germany. But the
Manhattan Project is not the only atom bomb project with some missing
Germany too appears to have suffered the "missing
uranium syndrome" in the final days prior to and immediately
after the end of the war. But the problem in Germany's case is that
the missing uranium it not a few tens of kilos, but several hundred
tons. At this juncture, it is worth citing Carter Hydrick's excellent
research at length, in order to exhibit the full ramifications of
From June of 1940 to the end of the war, Germany
seized 3,500 tons of uranium compounds from Belgium - almost three
times the amount Groves had purchased.... and stored it in salt mines
in Strassfurt, Germany. Groves brags that on 17 April, 1945, as the
war was winding down, Alsos recovered some 1,100 tons of uranium ore
from Strassfurt and an additional 31 tons in Toulouse, France .....
And he claims that the amount recovered was all that Germany had ever
held, asserting, therefore, that Germany had never had enough raw
material to process the uranium either for a plutonium reactor
pile or through magnetic separation techniques.
Obviously, if Strassfurt once held 3,500 tons and
only 1,130 were recovered, some 2,370 tons of uranium ore was unaccounted
for - still twice the amount the Manhattan Project possessed and is
assumed to have used throughout its entire wartime effort.... The
material has not been accounted for to this day....
As early as the summer of 1941, according to historian
Margaret Gowing, Germany had already refined 600 tons of uranium to
its oxide form, the form required for ionizing the material into a
gas, in which form the uranium isotopes could then be magnetically
or thermally separated or the oxide could be reduced to a metal for
a reactor pile. In fact, Professor Dr. Riehl, who was responsible
for all uranium throughout Germany during the course of the war, says
the figure was actually much higher....
To create either a uranium or plutonium bomb, at
some point uranium must be reduced to metal. In the case of plutonium,
U238 is metallized; for a uranium bomb, U235
is metallized. Because of uranium's difficult characteristics, however,
this metallurgical process is a tricky one. The United States struggled
with the problem early and still was not successful reducing uranium
to its metallic form in large production quantities until late in
1942. The German technicians, however,... by the end of 1940, had
already processed 280.6 kilograms into metal, over a quarter of a
6 Hydrick, op. cit., p. 23, emphasis
These observations require some additional commentary.
First, it is to be noted that Nazi Germany, by the
best available evidence, was missing approximately two thousand tons
of unrefined uranium ore by the war's end. Where did this ore go?
Second, it is clear that Nazi Germany was enriching
uranium on a massive scale, having refined
600 tons to oxide form for potential metallization
as early as 1940. This would require a large and dedicated
effort, with thousands of technicians, and a commensurately
large facility or facilities to accomplish the enrichment.
The figures, in other words, tend to corroborate the hypothesis
outlined in the previous chapter that the I.G. Farben "Buna"
factory at Auschwitz was not a Buna factory at all, but a huge
uranium enrichment facility. However, the date would imply another such facility, located elsewhere, since
the Auschwitz facility did not really begin production until sometime
Finally, it also seems clear that the Germans possessed
an enormous stock of metallic uranium. But what was the isotope? Was
it U238 for further enrichment and separation
into U235, was it intended perhaps as feedstock
for a reactor to be transmuted into plutonium, or was it already U235,
the necessary material for a uranium atom bomb? Given the statements
of the Japanese military attaché in Stockholm cited at the end of
the previous chapter - that the Germans may have used an atomic or
some other weapon of mass destruction on the Eastern Front ca. 1942-43,
and given Zinsser's affidavit cited in the first chapter of an atom
bomb test in October of 1944, it cannot be conclusively denied that
some of this enormous stockpile may also have been U235,
the essential component for a bomb.
In any case, these figures strongly suggest that
the Germans, ca. 1940-1942 were significantly ahead of the Allies
in one very important aspect of atom bomb production: the enrichment
of uranium, and therefore, this suggests also that they were demonstrably
ahead in the race for an actual functioning atom bomb during this
period. But the figures also raise another disturbing question: where
did this uranium go?
One answer lies in the mysterious case of a
the U-234, captured by the Americans in 1945.
The case of the U-234 is well-known in literature
about the Nazi atom bomb, and of course the Allied Legend is that
none of the material on board the U-boat found its way into the American
atom bomb project.
None of this could be further from the truth.
The U-234 was a very large mine-laying U-boat that
had been adapted as an undersea freighter to carry large cargoes.
Consider then the following "cargo manifest" of the U-234's
very odd cargo:
Two Japanese officers 7
80 gold-lined cylinders containing 560 kilograms of uranium
Several wooden cases or barrels full of "water"
(4) Infrared proximity fuses
(5) Dr. Heinz Schlicke, inventor of the fuses
When the U-234 was being loaded with its cargo in
Germany for the outward voyage, its radio operator, Wolfgang Hirschfeld,
observed the two Japanese officers writing "U235"
on the paper wrapping of the cylinders prior to their being loaded
into the submarine.9 Needless to say, this observation has called
forth the full range of debunking techniques normally applied by skeptics
to UFO sightings: low sun angles, poor lighting, distance was to great to see clearly, etc. etc. This is no surprise,
for if Hirschfeld saw what he saw, then the enormous implications
The use of gold lined cylinders is explainable by
the fact that uranium, a highly corrosive metal, is easily contaminated
if it comes into contact with other unstable elements. Gold, whose
radioactive shielding properties are as great as lead, is also, unlike
lead, a highly pure and stable element, and is therefore the element
of choice when storing or shipping highly enriched and pure uranium
for long periods of time, such as a voyage.10
Thus, the uranium oxide on board the U-234 was highly enriched uranium,
and most likely, highly enriched U235, the last
stage, perhaps, before being reduced to weapons grade or to
for a bomb (if it was already in weapons grade purity).
The two officers were Air Force Colonel Genzo Shosi,
an engineer, and Navy Captain Hideo Tomonaga. When the captain of
the U-234 made known his intentions to surrender the submarine, which
was then en route to Japan after the German surrender, the two Japanese
officers committed hari-kiri, and were buried at sea with full military
honors by the Germans.
8 Hydrick's comment on the U-234's
cargo manifest explains why the U- 234 was off limits to the American
press following its surrender: "Whoever first read the entry
and understood the frightening capabilities and potential purpose
of uranium must have been stunned by the entry." (op. cit, p.
9 Hydrick, op. cit., p. 5.
10 Ibid., p. 8.
Indeed, if the Japanese officers'
labels on the cylinders were accurate, it is likely that it
was at the final stage of purity before metallization.
The cargo of the U-234 was so sensitive, in fact,
that when the U.S. Navy prepared its own cargo
manifest for the German submarine on June 16, 1945, the uranium oxide
had entirely disappeared from the list.11 Significantly,
within a week of the appearance of the U.S. Navy's version of the
U-234's cargo manifest, Oak Ridge's output of enriched uranium very
nearly doubled.12 This in itself is highly suspect,
since as late as March of 1945, as we have already seen, a U.S. Senator
is worried about the failure of the Manhattan Project, so much so
that he writes President Roosevelt a memorandum on the subject, and
of course, we have also already seen that the chief metallurgist of
Los Alamos laboratory indicates the stock of fissile U235
is far short of the needed critical mass, and would remain so for
11 Hydride, op. cit., p. 9.
12 Ibid., p. 11
The conclusion is therefore simple, but frightening:
the missing uranium used in the Manhattan Project was German, and
that means that Nazi Germany's atom bomb project was much further
along that the post-war Allied Legen would have us believe.
But what of the other two items in the U-234's strange
cargo manifest, the fuses and their inventor, Dr. Heinz Schilcke?
We have already noted that by late 1944 and early 1945, the American
plutonium bomb project had run afoul of some nasty mathematics: the
critical mass of a plutonium bomb, "imploded" or compressed
by surrounding conventional explosives, would have to be assembled
within 1/3000th of a second, otherwise the bomb would fail, and only
produce a kind of "atomic fizzling firecracker", a "radiological"
bomb producing very little explosion but a great deal of deadly radiation.
This was a speed far in excess of the capabilities of conventional
wire cabling and the ordinary fuses available to the Allied engineers.
It is known that late in the timetable of events
leading to the Trinity test of the plutonium bomb in New Mexico that
a design modification was introduced to the implosion device that
incorporated "radiation venting channels", allowing radiation
from the plutonium core to escape and reflect off the
surrounding reflectors as the detonator was fired, within billionths
of a second after the beginning of compression. There is no possible
way to explain this modification other than by the incorporation of
Dr. Schlicke's infrared proximity fuses into the final design of the
American bomb, since they enabled the fuses to react and fire are
the speed of light.13
In support of this historical reconstruction, there is a communication
from May 25, 1945 from the chief of Naval Operations,
to Portsmouth where the U-234 was brought after its surrender,
indicating that Dr. Schlicke, now a prisoner of war, would
be accompanied by three naval officers, to secure the fuses and
bring them to Washington.14 There Dr.
was apparently to give a lecture on the fuses
under the auspices of a "Mr. Alvarez,"15
who would appear to be none other than well-known
Manhattan Project scientist Dr. Luis Alvarez, the very man who,
according to the Allied Legend, "solved" the fusing problem for
the plutonium bomb!16
13 Q.v. Hydrick, op. cit, pp. 46-51, for a detailed discussion
of this issue and the historical problems it poses for the Allied
14 Ibid., p. 46.
16 As I observed in my previous book, The Giza Death Star Deployed,
Dr.Luis Alvarez also had some other strange distinctions to his credit,
being one of the scientists allegedly involved with the alleged Roswell
"UFO" crash, the CIA's subsequent "Robertson Panel"
in the 1950s on UFOs and government policy, and subsequent cosmic ray
experiments inside the 2nd Pyramid at Giza.
it would appear that the surrender of the U-234 to the Americans
in 1945 solved the Manhattan Project's two biggest outstanding
problems: lack of sufficient supplies of weapons grade uranium,
and lack of adequate fusing technology to make a plutonium
bomb work. And this means that in the final analysis the Allied
Legend about the Germans having been "far behind" the Allies
in the race for the atom bomb is simply a incorrect in the extreme
in the best case, or a deliberate lie in the worst. But the fuses
raise another frightening specter: What were the Germansdeveloping
such highly sophisticated fuses for? Infrared heat-seeking
rockets, which they had developed, would be one answer, and of course an implosion device to compress critical
mass would be another.
But what about the other missing German uranium
mentioned previously? The mission of the U-234 and its precious cargo
thus raises certain other questions, and highlights other possibilities
in this regard. It is a fact that throughout the war Germany and Japan
both conducted long-range exchanges of officers and technology via
aircraft and submarine - the exchange of technology being mostly a
one-sided affair from Germany to Japan. It is conceivable that many
of these voyages - just as with the U-234 - would have included similar
transfers of uranium stocks and high technology to Japan. Some of
the missing uranium must therefore surely be looked for in the Far
East, in the Japanese atom bomb program.17
Similarly, during the war both Germany and Italy
undertook long-range flights to Japan, the Germans using their special
long- range heavy lift transport aircraft such as the Ju-290 for polar
flights. It is conceivable that these flights and their Italian counterparts
also involved the exchange of officers and technology, if not a small
amount of raw material as well. Some of the missing uranium probably
also fell into the hands of the Soviets as the Russian armies steamrollered
into Eastern Europe and finally into what would become the Soviet
"eastern" zone of occupation in Germany.
But why, after traveling under radio silence from
Germany, did the U-234 finally surrender its precious uranium, fuses,
and "water", when its obvious destination was Japan? This
is an intriguing question, and one that unfortunately cannot be answered
here except briefly. Again, Carteer Hydrick's superb research elaborates
one highly probable hypothesis: U-234 was handed over to the US authorities
on the orders of none other than Martin Bormann, in a maneuver designed
to secure his and others' freedom after the war, and as part of a
deliberate plan to continue Nazism and its agendas and research underground.18
17Q.v. chapter 7.
18 Q.v. part two. The allegation that Bormann's action
was a component of this plan is my own, and not Hydrick's although
Hydrick also clearly suggests a connection. This "Bormann hypothesis"
of the events leading up to the U-234's surrender is a major component of Hydrick's work,
spanning several pages of meticulous research.
It is thus, on this view, the first visible, and crucial, element of the emerging
Operation Paperclip, the transfer of technology amid scientists from
the collapsing Third Reich to the United States. There, the German
scientists and engineers could, would, and did continue their lines
of esoteric research and development of high technology and sophisticated
weaponry, with a similar moral and ideological effect on the culture
at large as occurred in Nazi Germany.
And finally, of course, as we have already seen,
some of the missing uranium ended up in the German atom bomb program
itself, enriched, and refined, and probably assembled and tested -
if not used - in actual bombs themselves.
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