Hitler’s nuclear weapon

Physics World has published what is believed to be the only known diagram of a German nuclear weapon.

The diagram, which has never been published before, has been discovered by the German historian Rainer Karlsch in a scientific report written by an unknown German or Austrian scientist shortly after the end of the Second World War.

The weapon is shown to be a fission device based on plutonium, although the report also reveals that German scientists had worked intensively during the war on the theory of a fusion (hydrogen) bomb.

Karlsch discovered the diagram after completing his controversial new book Hitlers Bombe, which was published in March. It suggested that Germany had built and tested a primitive fission device that killed several hundred prisoners and concentration-camp inmates in March 1945.

Writing in Physics World, Karlsch and fellow historian Mark Walker say that the report “demonstrates that the knowledge that uranium could be used to make powerful new weapons was fairly widespread in the Germany technical community during the war”.