If the European war had continued into the summer of 1945 did the allies have plans to use the atomic bomb against NAZI Germany and if so which German cities were to be targeted?
Very good question Rob!
I don’t know for sure but I guess the US had to have a contingency plan ready, in case development on the European theatre were worsening. Soviet troops proved to be more effective than 1 A-bomb.
Considering the timeline on the development of 'Little Boy ’ and ‘Fat Man’, after even successfully detonating the first ever A-bomb at Los Alamos, even when some Axis forces would still resist, I believe ‘Bomber Harris’ already did his job, especially at Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin, so there simply were no real targets left!
If I’m remembering things right Berlin was originally going to be the first target of a completed atomic bomb. Fortunately the Germans surrendered 2 1/2 months before it was ready. That only left Japan and the 2 bombs dropped there. As an extra, the 3rd target was going to be Tokyo itself. Fortunately the Japanese saw their situation for what it was and surrendered before the 3rd bomb was ready.
I would appreciate some solid evidence on your theory because both Berlin and Tokio were bombed conventionally by the allied forces. Furthermore the USA were aiming, imho, to strike a city that was reasonably intact, both for science and propaganda purposes. Drying out on German targets at the beginning of 1945, knowing the bomb would take a few months more to develop, Dresden was bombed conventionally, with similar results, compared to Hiroshima.
Not sure if Tokyo and Berlin would ever be targets because the goal was to make them surrender. E.g the Japanese organised a meeting on the 8th August and then postponed to the 9th because the Army wanted to make sure it was an A-bomb. And early 10th
August Japan opened the “surrender negotiations.
Japan had 2 Atomic weapon programs themselves so they knew what it looked like.
Had the Allies dropped the bomb on Tokyo the would have made it very difficult to communicate.
As for Berlin and Tokyo as targets, I am sure it was talked about. But in my understanding it was simply not practical to drop it on the capital.
As I earlier remarked, the targets had to be pristine to verify the damage effectiveness, so that is why they chose only cities that had not or barely not been damaged
It was ruled out and never really considered for a couple of reasons. The only reason Japan was nuked was because of it’s COMPLETE air defense failure in early 1945. Lemme give you a worst-case scenario from early in 1944 when this stuff was being planned, and in this case very close to what happens in the AU I’ve been working on:
You CANNOT put a nuke in a 1000 bomber raid. Why? because at Hiroshima AND Nagasaki the blast from the nuke nearly tailspined the delivery bomber. Any bomber or fighter lagging behind because of injury or caught in a dogfight is gonna be swatted out of the sky or obliterated. The effects of morale on the public and the aircrews is gonna…bad. How bad is a subject of debate.
You can’t TELL the other crews. We know the Abwehr threw the game in the UK early, the Allies didn’t. But let’s be honest, there were very likely SD or Italian spies in the UK that were never caught who were using more passive means to extrapolate data and get to their axis handlers. It’s gonna be REAL hard to maintain security. THere’s gonna be lots of tells, including bringing in the B-29s which were needed to deliver them. ALncasters could do it in theory too but they were slower and had less range and the Americans sharing their atom bomb baby with the Brits was more or less not gonna happen unless the USSR collapsed, not even peaced out, collapsed.
With only a few bombers or just the one, easy target with a still-functioning air defense net.
While the Allies didn’t quite understand radiation sickness from a full-on nuclear bomb, they knew damn well of its lesser effects and that would be blown east…into Poland, pissing off a tenuous ally, the Home Army they’d already alienated and very possibly onto the Red Army. So you got all KINBDS of potential international incidents even if managed properly.
THEN you have what if the bomber is shot down? In theory, the built-in altimeter will detonate the plane as it’s crashing but was all know Murphy’s Law even if it wouldn’t be articulated until after the war.
So the Germans have an intact nuclear bomb! Well, at this point the German nuke program started before the American one, although with a 2-year gap, they must be sitting on a crapton of nuclear fuel and not known how to configure it. Well, with an intact nuke, the Germans are gonna know the Americans field-tested it already and whatever fuel they have they have they can configure it into a bomb right quick. There’s still some real debate as to whether or not the Germans could have built a fully functional nuclear bomb ir just a dirty bomb, but you’re not in David Ike territory by saying they could have assembled the material they had into one or two fully functional nukes.
They then use this bomb with a captured Lancaster out of eastern Germany or Finland and nuke Moscow or the most inconvenient Red Army staging area. That is they use an American bomb, to kill hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens.
And/Or, they have a bomb and threaten to blow up London with it if the British don’t knock it off. The British government falls and enters peace negotiations. More effective if they’ve field-tested it in the east. Even if the Germans can’t fly the thing to London and they can, they could make it a mine and sail a U boat up the Thames to the Port of London and KABLOOWEE!
But what you need to understand is that wars are politics by other means. Conventional wars can be controlled by production figures and attrition, which the Allies were already doing and dominated. In the European theater, a nuclear bomb upends all of the political calculus in a way the Allied leadership could lose control over the situation. And politicians need CONTROL, they aren’t there to do the best, they are there to survive and ensure the survival of their party allies.
This is why MAD was such a powerful concept, it was not that war was too destructive to be waged it’s that the opening salvos of a campaign in Europe were too unstable to be controlled leading to panic by one side or the other.
The notion of ending the war earlier with nukes is less compelling than potentially losing control of the narrative, even if it means grinding Germany down to a bloody stump by attrition. That was politically safe.
I would like to acknowledge that the answer I gave was possibly from a faulty source I read a long time ago and would like to state I was more than likely wrong with my statement. I have done a little more research and have not really found anything concrete to back my statement. I apologize for the misinformation I thought to be true.
Hi fantastic of you to make a correction ! True scientific thinking !
don’t forget that nazi germany capitulated in may 1945, if the war would go on into 1946/1946, nazi germany would have, I think, got one atomic bomb
It is impossible that Germany could have produced an atomic bomb because:
- The Nazi’s had kicked all the Jewish Scientists off Germany which further hindered the Nuclear Production program and these Jewish Scientists helped America create the A-Bomb.
- (Massive spoilers ahead if you watch the day by day coverage!) A 9 man team of Norwegians sabotaged the Nuclear facility and destroyed a good chunk of the heavy water produced by the Germans which already caused a struggling program (because a lack of good scientists) to struggle even more.
- As the war progressed (SPOILERS AGAIN!!), the biggest fear of the Germans aka the soviets were gaining speed and ground… so the funding for the nuclear program had cuts which slows it even more.
- This I am not sure of but according to Potential History’s Why Germany could not have won WW2, he says after the Norwegian Raid Hitler Abandon’s the program all together because he views as Jewish Science and cancels the operation.
- Also not sure about this one though, the Germans also had very limited Uranium. So struggle for the A-Bomb intensifies.
don’t forget about the lack of collaboration between the university/scientist, each of them having their own project wich would cost a lot more ressource
There was a actual British group training to use Atomic Bombs on Lancasters in case the B-29 could not be modified in time. The B29 had to change the bomb bays from 2 to one for the A bomb.
This is detailed in a wonderful Mark Felton video.
Yes sir. Watching it again. These were both smaller than the grand slam although perhaps less aerodynamic. The British really were very advanced. I love how they pioneered aerial refueling.
Eventually the bombings done on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were deliberately on targets that still were intact, to get an accurate assessment of their destructive power and also to impress the Soviets. Almost every German city already lay in ruins at the end of the European war, so even when the Nazi’s had held out longer, using the atomic bomb would not have been sensible, imho.
I guess it only depends on what situation would have made the war last that much longer. A whole big series of what if’s would have to come into play. Otherwise I agree that Germany was not a great target.
Another issue, Dan, and I thank you for your contribution, might be that, already realizing the radiation problems and repercussions pending the Cold war it was not viable to bomb nukes inside Europe, your future ally, Putin, sorry, putting in harms way. Excuse my language but know I respect historical truth
Agreed but that is hindsight. I don’t think in summer of 1945, how much radiation is there was understood. And for the few who did, it certainly wasn’t common knowledge.
Look at Hiroshima today, that radiation didn’t stop it from becoming a thriving city. My “ally Putin”. Cough cough has a far bigger problem with Chernobyl.
At Los Alomos, the Manhattan Project surely was aware of the possible impact of radiation because they already tested a nuclear device. It was the question of being more effective to deter the Soviet union and try to beat the Japanese. As I stated earlier I believe that not the nuclear bombs did the job, but the involvement and blitzkrieg of the Soviets in Manchuria