Chapter 3:


"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

Critical Mass: The Real Story of the Atomic Bomb and the Birth of the Nuclear Age.' 1

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 1."2

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.

1 Carter 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 material.

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.

And 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



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 horrible carnage.

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 Byrnes' concern,

  • 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?

  • Where 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 uranium.

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 this problem:

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 ton.6

6 Hydrick, op. cit., p. 23, emphasis added.

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 in 1942.

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 attach 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 U-boat, 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 oxide 8


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 were obvious.

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 metallization for a bomb (if it was already in weapons grade purity).

7 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. 7)

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 several months.

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. Schlicke 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 Legend.

14 Ibid., p. 46.

15 Ibid.

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.

So 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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