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European History Commons

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History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

2014

University of Massachusetts Boston

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Full-Text Articles in European History

'An Explosive Of Quite Unimaginable Force': Did Werner Heisenberg Obstruct German Atomic Bomb Research?, Aaron G. Noll Mar 2014

'An Explosive Of Quite Unimaginable Force': Did Werner Heisenberg Obstruct German Atomic Bomb Research?, Aaron G. Noll

Graduate History Conference, UMass Boston

Why was Nazi Germany unable to acquire an atomic bomb during World War II? An answer to this question necessarily involves an analysis of the wartime conduct of Werner Heisenberg. As the undisputed leader of German nuclear research, Heisenberg was integral to the successful production of a bomb. Heisenberg claimed after the war that the Nazis lacked the economic resources for this project. Moreover, Nazi military strategy ruled out such a sustained long-term commitment in armaments development. Heisenberg explained that he personally felt fortunate that these circumstances prevented Hitler from having a bomb. He argued that he merely “pretended” to ...