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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hitler and the A-bomb: closer than we thought?

Take this story with a grain of salt. Some push stories of superior Nazi technology as a way to make them appear, well, superior. If true, history was almost a lot different than we realized.

A German historian has claimed in a new book presented on Monday that Nazi scientists successfully tested a tactical nuclear weapon in the last months of World War II.

Rainer Karlsch said that new research in Soviet and also Western archives, along with measurements carried out at one of the test sites, provided evidence for the existence of the weapon.

"The important thing in my book is the finding that the Germans had an atomic reactor near Berlin which was running for a short while, perhaps some days or weeks," he told the BBC.

"The second important finding was the atomic tests carried out in Thuringia and on the Baltic Sea."

Mr Karlsch describes what the Germans had as a "hybrid tactical nuclear weapon" much smaller than those dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

'Bright light' He said the last test, carried out in Thuringia on 3 March 1945, destroyed an area of about 500 sq m - killing several hundred prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates.

The weapons were never used because they were not yet ready for mass production. There were also problems with delivery and detonation systems.

Karlsch has done us a service in showing that German research into uranium went further than we'd thought... but there was not a German atom bomb Michael Schaaf, German physicist"We haven't heard about this before because only small groups of scientists were involved, and a lot of the documents were classified after they were captured by the Allies," said Karlsch.


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