16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered

Larry Holzwarth - December 2, 2018

Few regimes in the history of the world have been studied more closely than that of the Nazis in Germany. Books, academic papers, newspaper and magazine articles, documentary films and television programs, panel discussions, courtroom trials, and other explorations and analyses have dissected the regime and the people who created and ran it since it began. Yet the Nazi era remains fraught with mysteries which remain unsolved more than seventy years after it came to an end. Valuable pieces of art by great masters remain unaccounted for, their fate unknown. What happened to many leading Nazis, including to some conspiracy theorists Adolf Hitler himself, is still a subject of discussion.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Winston Churchill sits outside the Berlin bunker where Adolf Hitler spent the last days of the war and his life in 1945. Wikimedia

Did the Nazis build secret tunnels in a vast underground system to hide huge amounts of gold and jewels stolen from victims of the Holocaust? If so they have yet to be located. What was the true purpose of the purported German secret weapon known as The Bell? Just what role did the occult have within the Nazi hierarchy? What exactly was the role of the Pope and the Vatican in the escape of leading Nazis as the Reich collapsed around them in 1945? If the burnt skeletal remains found by the Soviets outside Hitler’s Berlin bunker weren’t Hitler’s, who was it, and more importantly, where were his? Or was it a ploy of Josef Stalin’s to create doubt among the allies over whether or not Hitler was dead?

Here are some of the mysteries left behind by the Nazi regime, some of which remain unsolved and some which were explained in the years since the end of the war.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
The Amber Room in a 1917 photograph. Wikimedia

1. What happened to the Russian Amber Room?

In October 2017, three German treasure hunters announced that they had found the location of the Amber Room, and if able to raise the necessary funds would excavate it from its hidden subterranean storage. If so they had solved one of the most enduring mysteries of hidden Nazi loot(as of November 2018 it has not been recovered). The Amber Room vanished after it was displayed in Konigsberg Castle, where it had been shipped and reassembled after it was looted by the Germans from Leningrad (it had originally been assembled in the Berlin City Palace and shipped to Russia as a gift to Peter the Great from King Frederick William I). After the Germans installed the room in Konigsberg its history is murky. Contemporary reports from some were that the room was disassembled and shipped by train to safety at an unknown location. Others have since speculated that the room was destroyed by heavy shelling as Konigsberg was overrun.

The problem with the destroyed by shelling theory is that no evidence of the materials from which the room was built were reported in the rubble of Konigsberg Castle. Some have speculated that the room was never in Konigsberg at all, but newspaper announcements of the opening of its exhibition there give the lie to that theory. Hitler ordered the prioritizing of Nazi loot of high value in January of 1945, and discoveries of numerous priceless works of art which had been transported to areas of safety makes the idea of the Amber Room – which was considered a wonder of the world – being moved likely. Though a copy of the original was later erected in Saint Petersburg, the true Amber Room has yet to resurface, if in fact it survived the war. Hidden Nazi loot continues to be discovered in underground vaults and abandoned mines in Europe, and as long as it does the search for the Amber Room is likely to go on, pursued by treasure hunters determined to solve the Nazi mystery.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
A collection of Nazi artifacts, including a magnifying glass directly linked to Hitler, were discovered in a secret Argentine room in 2017. NPR

2. How did Nazi artifacts connected to Adolf Hitler end up in Argentina?

In the spring of 2017, Argentine authorities announced that a secret room had been discovered in a house not far from the capital in Buenos Aires. In the room were numerous artifacts from the Nazi era, including items used to indoctrinate children into Nazi philosophy, a bust of Hitler, medical devices, daggers with SS markings, numerous small statues and bas-reliefs of Hitler, and intriguingly, a magnifying glass in a leather bound case. Photos of Hitler examining maps and documents using a magnifying glass were examined by forensic scientists. The consensus among the scientists was that it was the same magnifying glass as that in the photos. In other words, it may have belonged to Adolf Hitler. Since Hitler was studying maps in his bunker up until the day before he was said to have died, it may have been in the bunker with him.

How it traveled from Berlin to Buenos Aires, and why, is a mystery. Those who believe that Hitler escaped from the bunker to Nazi enclaves in South America were quick to claim it was evidence that supported their theory, though anyone fleeing the bunker after Hitler’s death (or before) could have easily grabbed it as a souvenir, a keepsake of their time with the Fuhrer. Nonetheless, the fact that the glass and the other artifacts remained hidden, despite their obvious value to those who collect Nazi memorabilia is a mystery. Argentine authorities allowed photographs of some of the objects to be published, while others were shown to photographers from organizations such as the Associated Press with the proviso that no images were to be taken. Included in the artifacts were devices used to measure head size and dimensions, an important determinant of Aryan ancestry in Nazi belief.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Rudolf Hess (second from left in front row) with other Nazi leaders during the Nuremberg trials, at which he was sentenced to life in prison. US Army

3. What was Rudolf Hess really up to when he flew to England in 1941?

Few people were closer to Adolf Hitler than Rudolf Hess, the deputy Fuhrer to whom Hitler dictated large portions of his political diatribe Mein Kampf. In 1939, Hitler designated Hess as second in line in the succession of the Nazi hierarchy, behind only Herman Goering. Hess was an aviator, which in the pre-war days of the late 1930s led to personal relationships with fellow flying enthusiasts, including British nobleman Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, the Duke of Hamilton, a member of the expedition which was the first to fly over Mount Everest. Hamilton attended the 1936 Olympic games, inspected Luftwaffe facilities at the invitation of Goering, and attended dinners where he met with Joachim Ribbentrop and which were attended by Hitler, though he later denied meeting with Hess. Nonetheless, in the spring of 1941, Hess wrote to Hamilton requesting a meeting between the two. British Intelligence intercepted the letter.

Shortly after mailing the letter Hess flew to England, bailed out over Scotland, and was promptly arrested and taken into the custody of British Intelligence. He remained a prisoner for the rest of his long life. Speculation was that Hess intended to meet with Hamilton to discuss a possible armistice between Germany and the British Empire, though he was not directed by the German government to do so, and thus bore no authority. Hitler responded by ordering that Hess be shot should he be returned to Germany. Churchill’s role in both silencing Hess and explaining his mission has been the source of speculation ever since. By May 1941 the entry of the United States into the European war was understood to be but a matter of time, and Churchill recognized that a German war with the Soviets coupled with the United States allying with Great Britain meant the Empire would prevail, his primary war aim. Hess could not have arranged peace, and whether that was his true intention or not remains hidden in the mists of speculation and mystery.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
The garden outside of Hitler’s bunker, where the Soviets claimed to have found Hitler’s charred remains, photographed in 1947. Bundesarchiv

4. How and where did Adolf Hitler die?

In 2009 DNA tests on a bone fragment which had been held by the Soviets and later the Russian government since 1945, alleged to be from Hitler, revealed that it was actually from a woman no more than forty years of age. The Soviets claimed near the end of the war to have recovered the partially cremated remains of Hitler and his consort Eva Braun, though shortly after the war Stalin informed American President Harry Truman that it was his personal belief that Hitler had escaped. Within a few months, as the Soviets clamped down on the territory which their armies had overrun, they were claiming that Hitler was being sheltered by the Allies. The absence of a body, the claims of the Soviets, and the evident escape of many senior Nazis, along with looted treasure, led to the theories that Hitler had in fact survived the war and made good his escape.

According to official accounts Hitler learned of the fate of Mussolini on April 29, 1945. Fearing a similar end for himself and Eva Braun, he planned his own suicide the following day. His body and that of Eva Braun were then burned in the chancellery garden. The Soviets claimed to have found the bodies, partially burned, on May 4 and later announced that they had been identified by dental records. In the 1970s all official records of the Soviet investigation and autopsy were destroyed by the order of Yuri Andropov. Through the secrecy and dissembling of the Soviets, the belief that Adolf Hitler survived and escaped to South America via Spain, the Azores, or the Italian ratlines arose, and has remained ever since a favorite among conspiracy theorists. The only witnesses to the Fuhrer’s death were those who were most loyal to him in life, and their descriptions of the event contained discrepancies which have never been resolved. The truth is, nobody knows with certainty how, when, and where Adolf Hitler died.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
At the Potsdam Conference Stalin (white tunic) informed Truman that he personally believed Hitler was still alive. National Archives

5. Why did the Soviets muddy the waters over Hitler’s death?

In 2017 a team of French forensic specialists announced that through an examination of Hitler’s teeth, or rather the remains of portions of his teeth retained by the Russians, that they had determined beyond doubt that Hitler died in or near his bunker in Berlin in 1945. The announcement was made more than four decades after the Soviet KGB, under orders of Soviet premier Yuri Andropov, had according to their own records cremated all remains of the bodies recovered from the bunker, crushed the remaining fragments, and disposed of them in a river. As part of the announcement the leader of the French study announced, “We can stop all the conspiracy theories about Hitler. He did not flee to Argentina in a submarine, he is not in a hidden base in Antarctica or on the dark side of the moon,” according to accounts published by Agence France Presse.

In the summer of 1945 Josef Stalin was no longer dealing with the Allied leaders with whom he had prosecuted the war. Harry Truman had replaced Franklin Roosevelt as President of the United States, and Winston Churchill was no longer the Prime Minister of the British government; Charles de Gaulle had emerged as the spiritual leader of France and a thorn in the side of the Allies. Stalin had an opportunity to create dissension among the Allies and he deliberately fostered rumors of Hitler’s escape, telling Truman personally at the Potsdam Conference that he believed the Fuhrer to be alive, either in the custody of British Intelligence or having escaped via Franco’s Spain. He even mentioned “evidence” of the fact. At the same time rumors began, principally among the French, that Hitler was alive in the custody of the Soviets. Stalin’s rumor mongering led to the belief of Hitler’s survival and escape which is still investigated by those so inclined more than seventy years later.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Despite decades of speculation by conspiracy theorists and ufologists, there was no German base – secret or otherwise – in Antarctica. Wikimedia

6. What was the secret German base in Antarctica?

For decades the existence of a secret German U-Boat base in Antarctica has been promoted by conspiracy theorists as a potential escape route by Adolf Hitler, a stopping point for the submarine carrying him to South America. The Germans did explore Antarctica through the twentieth century prior to the Second World War, as did other nations, but there was never a German occupation, nor did they build a base for the support of U-Boat operations. In the late 1930s a German exploration expedition was dispatched to the region for the purpose of locating a suitable site for a base, but rather than for being for the purpose of submarine operations its intent was more mundane. The site was intended to support whaling operations. Whale oil and blubber were commodities crucial to the German economy as a source of fat. The German high command knew that during wartime they would rapidly become short of fat, as most of it was imported.

Fat was crucial because it was a component of lubricants, oleomargarine, and soap. The German expedition sent to explore suitable locations marked examined territory with flags displaying the swastika along the coast and on the ice, but did not establish permanent settlements in Antarctica, nor did they return to build a naval base. The Reich government decreed the existence of a German territory which it named New Swabia in August 1939 but within weeks was at war with Great Britain. The British Navy deterred the creation of the German secret base. It did not deter the development of rumors which evolved into myths, that the Germans both established a base there and that they used it for, among other things, the study of UFOs and the development of similar devices of their own. As recently as 2016, tabloids reported the location of a secret German base in Antarctica, claiming it was abandoned when its occupants were sickened by poisoned polar bear meat. They failed to note that polar bears do not reside in Antarctica.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Various locations in the Bavarian Alps were (and are) reputed to be hiding places for looted Nazi gold, silver, and precious gems. Wikimedia

7. What happened to the Nazi’s hidden gold?

As the Third Reich was staggering to its end in the winter and spring of 1945, its wealth in the form of gold bullion and coin, Swiss francs and American dollars, gold certificates, and other securities was removed from banks in Berlin and shipped to the Bavarian Alps. At the same time the personal loot pillaged from the occupied countries by leading Nazis was removed to safe locations, which the Germans considered to be in areas likely to be overrun by the western Allies rather than the Soviets. The wealth of the Jews, including money, jewelry, and art, was transferred to salt mines and the bottom of lakes and ponds, largely in the Alps. Himmler was believed to have hidden more than 9,000 silver rings alone, as well as gold and silver bullion, in locations which have never been found despite more than seven decades of searching by treasure hunters and forensic specialists poring over documents for clues.

Nazi treasure became an industry of its own following the end of the war and the occupation of Germany, with some sources reporting upwards of $37 billion yet to be found. Reports of more than 700 bars of gold sunk to the bottom of the Walchensee in the Bavarian Alps fueled treasure hunts for decades. In truth, most of the gold and other valuables was turned over to the United States Army in 1945, though discrepancies in records indicate that about 100 gold bars were missing when the Americans took custody. The caches of the private holdings of many leading Nazis, including Goering and Himmler, have for the most part never been found. The Jonastal (Jonas Valley) became a favorite target of treasure hunters because of the intricate and long tunnels which were dug in the region by forced laborers from the Buchenwald concentration camp, the nature and purpose of which have never been fully explained.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Slave laborers from Buchenwald, such as these photographed during liberation by the Americans, were used to build the Jonastal tunnels. US Army

8. What was the purpose of the Jonastal tunnel system?

When the United States Army occupied the Jonas Valley it liberated the concentration camp at Buchenwald, the first such camp encountered by the Americans. Twenty-five tunnels were found by the Americans, dug into the walls of the valley, which were not completed and were not in use. Nor was construction still underway when the Americans arrived in the area, it had been abandoned sometime earlier. The Americans turned the area over to the Soviets as part of their zone of occupation, and the area was classified as a military training ground first by the Soviet army, later by the East Germans, and finally by the German army following reunification. American documents regarding the site were classified and remain so in the 21st century.

The mysterious nature of the tunnels led to speculation that they were intended for a variety of uses. One popular theory is that they were built to support research into the development of an atomic bomb, another that German scientists were to use (or actually used) the tunnels while performing experiments on the development of fission and fusion reactors. Another theory is that the tunnels, which are near Ohrduf, a city with excellent railroad connections and facilities, were intended to house Nazi loot. Speculation that work on a missile designed to reach the United States was conducted in the tunnels was also rife. Finally there are those who believed and continue to believe that the German UFO program needed the tunnels and the isolation of the area to work on the Nazi UFO, inspired by a captured alien vehicle. In truth, the tunnels were never completed, according to official reports of the troops which found them.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Aviators of all combatants and in all theaters reported being encountering flying lights which became known in the press as “foo fighters”. Imperial War Museum

9. What were the foo fighters?

In November 1944 allied fighter pilots over Europe reported encountering strange lights in the skies. The lights sometimes followed their aircraft, sometimes flew alongside though seemingly at a distance, and darted about in a manner which prevented them from being followed. They were reported in different colors and one allied pilot described them as resembling Christmas tree lights. They could neither be outmaneuvered nor shot down and though they seemed to have flight characteristics which exceeded those of the Allied airplanes they did not attack in any manner. American pilots took to calling the lights “kraut fireballs”, usually with the common expletives of the military man of the time attached. Captured German airmen reported seeing the same phenomena, which seemed to rule them out as a new German weapon, and American airmen in the Pacific reported encountering the lights around the same time.

In December General Eisenhower noted the lights in a press release. The lights were described as “foo fighters”, one of the cleaner names appended to them by pilots (where there is foo there’s fire was a catchphrase popularized by a widely read comic strip). Study of the various reports from around the world led to several theories of what they actually were, which included disorientation on the part of the pilot, St. Elmo’s Fire, and ball lightning. Following the war it was suggested that the lights were in fact a Nazi developed weapon which was intended to shoot down enemy aircraft, which if it was failed spectacularly, and which also doesn’t explain their presence over the Pacific. Some have suggested that the lights were devices derived from another Nazi secret program, the UFO program, which was conducted by the German military and Nazi scientists throughout the war and hidden by the victorious governments of the Allies and the Soviet Union as the Cold War began.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
An artists rendering of the German device known as Die Glocke, which as been called a UFO, a weapon, and a time machine, among other proposals. WeskerX

10. What was the device known as Die Glocke (The Bell)?

An alleged secret of Nazi Germany is a device known as Die Glocke (The Bell), which was developed for different purposes depending on the perspective of the sources which describe its existence. It consisted of counter rotating vertical chambers within a chamber which was shaped to resemble a large bell, manufactured from an exceptionally hard metal. The rotating chambers were filled with a liquid which was code-named Xerum 525, which some have said was likely red mercury. Some sources describe Die Glocke as having a concave mirror mounted on the top, which gave it the ability to present images from the past for viewing by its operators. The problem was that according to the same sources no person could be near Die Glocke to view any of the images it received and presented, as they would be killed from the effects of the bell’s operation.

According to these sources, when Die Glocke was put into operation an area ranging out to about seven hundred feet became instantly uninhabitable. Plant life melted into a jellied mess. Animal muscle would become crystallized and blood separated and gelled. According to one source describing Die Glocke, five of the seven scientists involved in its development and testing were killed during the tests, and the facility in which they were conducted was severely damaged. The project was under the purview of the SS and the records of the experiments were destroyed to prevent the device, likewise destroyed, from falling into the hands of Germany’s enemies. The secret weapon know as Die Glocke is widely regarded to be a hoax, with its basis being in science fiction stories of the 1950s and early 1960s. Physical and documentary evidence of the experiments are non-existent, though some still list it as one of the most guarded Nazi secrets of the Second World War.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
A sculpture of a UFO in Bremerhaven, Germany. Many have proposed the Germans built such a device during the Second World War. Wikimedia

11. Did the Nazis build a UFO?

The existence of the foo fighters and the belief in a Nazi base in Antarctica (which never existed) led to another alleged secret of the Nazis. The existence of a Nazi flying disc – a manned flying saucer – has been alleged by some of being developed by German scientists, with others claiming it was actually built and in the testing phase when the collapse of Germany led to its being abandoned. While the Germans experimented with a number of new aeronautical designs, including a flying wing and at least two disk shaped aircraft, none reached the stage of a prototype, and there were no plans to operate flying disks from an underground base excavated from beneath the ice in Antarctica. The two disc shaped aircraft were of different types and propulsion systems.

A German engineer working on the V-2 program in Breslau drew up plans for a flying disc which could be powered by either rocket or jet propulsion, but the idea never grew beyond the design stage. At Prague’s BMW plant, another German engineer led a team which designed a flying disc propelled by vertically aligned rotating turbines with a non-rotating cockpit mounted in the center. The engineer, who escaped to the Americans after the war, gave conflicting accounts of the design and what had happened to his plans, and he never indicated the vessel had flown or ever had been built. Another German engineer claimed to have personally witnessed its test flight in 1944. Despite the extravagant claims of German creation of flying saucers in the latter days of the Nazi regime, there is no evidence that they did other than the anecdotes of ufologists.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
The heaviest bomber developed by the Germans, the ME 323, wasn’t able to reach the United States coastline, let alone the proposed German targets. Wikimedia

12. Was there really a bomber designed to fly to North America?

A round trip flight from German airbases to the American east coast is about 7,200 nautical miles, an impossibility for the aircraft prevalent during the Second World War. In 1938, before the war began, Herman Goering addressed the issue, saying in a speech, “I completely lack the bombers capable of round-trip flights to New York with a 4.5 ton bomb load”. Goering expressed the desire to possess such an aircraft, which he claimed would be able to stop American “arrogance across the sea”. Until May 1941 the Germans planned to operate heavy bombers against the United States from the Azores, but before a suitable airplane was ready the islands were leased to the British, and bombing missions would have had to be launched from occupied Europe, where Allied airpower was wresting control of the air from the Luftwaffe.

The Amerika bomber plan actually included five different bombers, not all of which developed prototypes, before one – the Junkers Ju-390 – was put into production. Difficulties in engine development were the primary cause of the project’s failure. The Amerika bomber program also selected targets in the United States and presented them to Hitler. They included industrial plants as far inland as Tennessee and Indiana, as well as along the American coastline. The Germans were never able to complete an aircraft capable of reaching the east coast and safely returning to Europe, let alone the American Midwest, and even if they had succeeded the payloads would have been too small to significantly impact the American war effort. Only had the Germans successfully created an atomic bomb would the Amerika bomber made any sense strategically, and the Germans never really came close to developing such a weapon.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
The Germans lacked the battle fleet capable of dealing with the US Navy, and Hitler had little intention of building one after 1942. US Navy

13. Did Hitler plan on an invasion of the United States?

Adolf Hitler told Life Magazine that an invasion of the United States by the Germans was a fantasy which existed only in the minds of those in America who hoped to profit from a war. His comments were made in the spring of 1941. Nazi spies and intelligence agents operated within the United States in the years before America entered the war, but contrary to popular belief the Nazis in Germany did not provide financial support to American Nazi groups such as the German-American Bund. The Germans did however attempt to gain the support of the American Indian tribes, classifying them as Aryans, and Hitler enthusiastically endorsed plans to help the American Indians regain their lost tribal lands. A fact largely forgotten to history, which records Hitler as a fan of German propaganda films, is that he was an aficionado of western films, in particular those based on the novels of German writer Karl May. He was fascinated by American Indians.

Hitler knew that even were he to subjugate the Soviet Union and Great Britain, complete hegemony over the western world meant conflict with the United States. To that end he authorized a massive enlargement of the German navy through Plan Z and pursued the alliance with Japan to offset the American fleet. Hitler did not want to destroy the British Empire; on the contrary he wanted and believed that the British and Germans could be allied together against the United States, and a strong British Empire was critical to success, as well as for trade with Germany. As late as July 1941, German naval planners continued to consider the probability of war against Japan rather than the United States. In 1942, with Germany and its Japanese ally at war with the United States, Hitler commented to Joachim Ribbentrop, “Sooner or later there will have to be a showdown between the white and the yellow races”.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
A German infrared night vision sighting system mounted to a machine gun. Wikimedia

14. German infrared technology could have won the war had it been perfected earlier

After World War II came to an end American, British, and Soviet troops competed with each other to unearth, in some cases literally from mines and underground vaults, technological secrets developed during the war. Vast collections of files, drawings, and prototypes were shipped to the United States by American troops for study, most of them shipped to Wright Field for classification by the United States Army Air Force. American scientists and military planners, as well as industrialists, were astonished at the advances made by the Germans over the course of the war in many areas. One of them was the ability to see in the dark, an advantage noted by Allied airmen and troops on the ground near the end of the war.

German vehicles had demonstrated the ability to travel down roads at high speeds without lights. Tanks and other armored vehicles could accurately target their enemies in the dark, as could infantry snipers. The reason was the development of infrared technology which had been miniaturized to the point that it could be mounted on a sniper’s rifle. American planners were quick to adapt the German technology to the benefit of American troops. Similar devices were prepared and their user’s trained to use them in time for American’s to deploy them against the Japanese on Okinawa. Another German innovation was the development of electromagnetic tape upon which recordings could be erased and the tape re-used for other purposes, a breakthrough which changed the recording industry and the storage of information. The German’s developed the tape because of the shortage of petroleum from which vinyl for record discs was made.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
The Germans produced high quality fuels for its jet fighter programs, as well as many other fuels, synthetically from coal. US Air Force

15. Where did Germany get its fuel for its war machine?

Oil was a critical factor of the Second World War, in many ways the most critical, since the military of all the combatants needed it to operate. Cutting off Germany’s supply of oil was a major part of Allied strategy. But the Germans continued to possess adequate supplies up to the last days of the war, in part because they created synthetic fuels from coal, which the Germans possessed in abundance. The Germans operated 25 synthetic fuel plants by 1944, which produced the majority of their highest grade aviation fuel used for jet engines, lower grade aviation gasoline, and production grade gasoline, as well as diesel fuel. The Germans were at their peak level of production manufacturing nearly 125,000 barrels of synthetic fuels from coal per day, despite the Allied bombing of plants and coal mines, as well as the railroads which connected them.

Following the war the technology to produce gasoline from coal was brought to the United States from Germany, and several experimental plants were established. A plant in Louisiana was established in 1950 and produced about 7,000 barrels per day before it was shut down in 1955. The massive oil finds in the Middle East made the cost of crude oil cheaper than the manufacturing of fuels from coal, and American oil companies chose to discard the coal conversion process. The German creation of liquid fuels from coal was not their only source of fuel, the oil fields of the Caucasus were critical as well, but even prior to the war the majority of the fuel produced for their military, especially the Luftwaffe, was coming from converted coal.

16 Nazi Mysteries Uncovered and Answered
Examination of the German Atomic Program following the war demonstrated that the Germans were many years away from building a bomb due to lack of a concerted effort. US Army

16. Were the Nazis close to developing an atomic bomb?

Though German physicists and scientists were pioneers in the field of nuclear fission and developing atomic weapons, they quickly fell behind the Americans. One of the reasons for their failure to complete an atomic bomb – which would have proved regrettable for the Allies, especially the British and the Russians – was that it was decided early in the war that a weapon would not be available for many years. The Germans continued to work on both nuclear power and weapons, but they never developed the coordinated national effort symbolized by America’s Manhattan Project. An assessment of German progress conducted after the war indicated that the German’s were about as far along as the Americans had been in January, 1942, and the lack of a dedicated national program placed them more than a decade from producing a weapon.

From 1942 onward the German effort was in the hands of civilian authorities, rather than the Wehrmacht, and the project grew smaller with each year, though the funding for the effort remained steady. German scientists, physicists, and engineers turned towards projects which could have an immediate impact on the war, rather than the atomic bomb which was still considered by many to be entirely theoretical. When the war ended the allies competed with each other to obtain the services of leading German scientists and other experts in technology, at the same time claiming the results of their efforts, such as von Braun and other leaders of the rocketry program. The United States also claimed the German stockpile of uranium and transferred it to the Manhattan Project, through which America was far ahead of the German effort to produce an atomic bomb.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“A Brief History of the Amber Room”. Jess Blumberg, Smithsonian Magazine. July 31, 2007

“The Secret Room, the Nazi Artifacts, and an Argentine Mystery”. Russell Goldman, The New York Times. June 20, 2017

“Will We Ever Know Why Nazi Leader Rudolf Hess Flew to Scotland in the Middle of World War II?” Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine. May 10, 2016

“Death of Hitler: How the world found out from the BBC”. Martin Vennard, BBC News. May 20, 2018

“They Saved Hitler’s Skull. Or Did They?” Jean-Marie Potter, Slate. April 30, 2018

“Nope, There Was Never a Secret Nazi Base in Antarctica”. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics. March 14, 2017

“Nazi Gold: The Merkers Mine Treasure”. Greg Bradsher, Prologue Magazine, National Archives. Spring, 1999

“Treasure Hunt in Hitler Bunker”. Leon Mangasarian, UPI (archives). December 3, 1991

“What Were the Mysterious ‘Foo Fighters’ Sighted by WWII Night Flyers?” Zoe Krasney, Air & Space Magazine. August, 2016

“The Nazi Bell: Proof of a Nazi Secret Space Program?” Gaia staff, Gaia Magazine. April 7, 2018

“Nazi Secret Weapons”. Laura Mackenzie, 29 Aug 2018. HistoryHit.

“Target America: Hitler’s Plan to Attack the United States”. James P. Duffy. 2006

“The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”. William L. Shirer. 2011

“Secrets by the Thousands”. Charles Lester Walker, Harper’s Magazine. October, 1946

“Turning Point: A History of German Petroleum in World War II”. Shawn P. Keller, Air Command and Staff College, Air University, United States Air Force. Online

“Nazis and the Bomb”. Episode of Nova, Public Broadcasting System. November 8, 2005. Online