(This is one of those “what if” and “if only” stories…..Quierosaber)
The Nazi attempt to build an atomic bomb was the nightmare dread of Allied governments during WWII. Evidence after the war showed that German scientists’ early research had put them ahead of the Americans by the end of 1941. They had two Nobel Prize winners working on the program – the co-discoverer of nuclear fusion, Otto Hahn and Werner Heisenberg who, by as early as 1942, understood what was needed to build an atomic device.
But it was the German assessment of how long the war would last – an assumed maximum of 18 months – that drove them to relegate the atom bomb low down their list priorities, behind the V1 and V2 rocket programs, and the development of the jet engine. They did not put effort into the bomb simply because they judged it would take longer to develop than the war would last.
By the time it dawned on Germany military leaders that the war would drag on, shortage of materials and damage from Allied air raids made it impossible to restart the program. The chance was lost.
Ironically, it was the threat of a German bomb that gave impetus to the American Manhattan Project. Einstein, who had left Nazi Germany for America only because of Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies, wrote two letters to President Roosevelt in 1939 and 1940 detailing the advances Germany was making and urging him to commit vast resources of manpower and money. Roosevelt obliged.
When the German scientists heard of the American effort, they estimated that from where they had left off, had they applied the same effort, they might have secured a working bomb in late 1944 or early 1945 – six months before the Americans.
If only, at the right time, there had been a German advocate to write a letter to Hitler … history wouldn’t be as we know it today.