WASHINGTON, May 29, 2017 — “The Search for Hitler’s Bomb,” a fascinating German documentary now streaming on Netflix, suggests the Nazi regime may have been further along in its nuclear weapons program than originally thought.
By way of background, before his death in 1989, CIA Director William Casey wrote a memoir of his exploits running covert operations while a member of the Organization of Strategic Services (OSS) against Nazi Germany during World War II.
In “The Secret War Against Hitler,” Casey noted, “In April 1945, a dismantled high-concentrate plant was found in Bavaria, together with uranium and heavy water – on the brink of going critical – lacking about seven hundred liters of additional heavy water.”
He failed to mention whether or not his team got the partially submerged atomic pile under control before it went critical.
It was a problem of his own making. OSS operations designed to deny Nazi Germany a reliable supply of heavy water, used to stabilize weapons-grade uranium, were very successful.
But spymaster Casey made it seem as though Hitler’s atomic scientists never advanced beyond the research phase.
Between the world wars, German Noble Prize-winning physicist Philip Lenard was among those spearheading a movement within Germany’s scientific community to dismiss the theoretical ideas of Albert Einstein as “Jewish physics.” The adherents of “Aryan physics” believed Einstein’s hypotheses could not be tested in a laboratory or observed in nature.
Lucky for the Aryans, Germany surrendered soon after Hitler’s suicide in April of 1945. Three months later, Einstein’s 1905 theory – E=mc2 – was made manifest for the Japanese citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At Einstein’s urging, the United States had figured out how to harness the internal, thermonuclear dynamics of a star and use it as a weapon.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, one Nazi in particular saw the promise of so-called Jewish physics and its potential to produce war-winning weapons for Hitler’s Germany: Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), Heinrich Himmler.
But after an Allied bombing raid destroyed the German weapons test facility at Peenemünde in 1943, Himmler chose SS engineer Hans Kammler to oversee the construction of underground factories and research facilities for the production of superweapons, which included the V-2 rocket.
According to the documentary, a month before the war’s end, a spy inside one such facility informed Igor Kurchativ, head of the Soviet Union’s nuclear program, that the Germans “carried out two explosions in Thuringia with huge force. Trees were felled in a distance of up to 600 meters. The prisoners at the epicenter of the explosion have died, many of them without a trace. A strong radioactive effect was also observed.”
Since we know the Soviets had spies inside America’s Manhattan Project, it isn’t all that far fetched to believe they had infiltrated the Third Reich’s nuclear program as well.
And when U.S. forces inspected a facility in Hillersleben, a Col. Keck reported back to Washington:
“I saw that the Germans had progressed far in developing an atomic bomb. The progress was remarkable and indicates that they were very close to a solution.”
The man who built these underground facilities, SS engineer Hans Kammler – who Heinrich Himmler charged with creating superweapons, who ruthlessly worked and starved slave laborers and whose efforts to build a Nazi nuclear weapon came so close to fruition – simply disappeared from history.
Some, like Kammler’s driver, say he committed suicide the day Germany surrendered to the Allies. Others speculate he was smuggled out of Europe and taken to America to advance the U.S. rocket and nuclear programs.
You decide what to believe as you watch “The Search for Hitler’s Bomb,” now streaming on Netflix.