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  • Nuking Nazi Germany

    A colleague recently wondered whether the Bomb would have been dropped on Germany, had it been available before the Germans capitulated. I responded in the affirmative, since the Manhattan Project was initiated out of fear that the Germans would develop nuclear weapons.

    Well, let's suppose that the World War II is progressing as it actually did except that the Manhattan Project reaches the same point in April 6, 1944 that it historically reached on August 6, 1945 (a plutonium device has been tested and several weapons are available with bombers trained to deliver them, etc). My question, then, is what cities will be targeted for destruction?

    Remember that Hiroshima and Nagasaki (actually not a primary target on that mission) were selected because they had been relatively unscathed at that point of the war. General Groves and his people wanted to be able to evaluate the damage caused by the weapons. Also, culturally significant targets were removed from the list of possibilities.

    What cities under Nazi domination are proper targets given the constraints that the target must not have suffered too much damage and should not be too culturally significant?

    Prague comes to mind as not having been bombed significantly during the war.

    Do the answers change if we slip the date from April 6, 1944 to November 6, 1944?
    Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

  • #2
    Prague, never. Its politically unviable. Dresden as that wasnt touched for a whileIIRC . Berlin probably to get Hitler and as a symbol.

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    • #3
      If we go by November 6, 1944, I believe the US would've dropped it on the Ruhr Valley industrial complexes. Whichever one was the most heavily industrialized. The second one would probably go to Berlin. Right on the Reichstag.
      Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by revans View Post
        If we go by November 6, 1944, I believe the US would've dropped it on the Ruhr Valley industrial complexes. Whichever one was the most heavily industrialized. The second one would probably go to Berlin. Right on the Reichstag.
        I am pretty sure that the Ruhr was already pretty heavily bombed by November, 1944 as was Berlin. The boys back in Los Alamos want an unscathed target (which is one reason why Tokyo wasn't bombed - I fail to see any difference between Tokyo and Berlin as symbolic targets but am willing to consider the question if someone wants to pursue it).

        I don't think that the Ruhr or Berlin pass the "unscathed" test.
        Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

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        • #5
          Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
          I am pretty sure that the Ruhr was already pretty heavily bombed by November, 1944 as was Berlin. The boys back in Los Alamos want an unscathed target (which is one reason why Tokyo wasn't bombed - I fail to see any difference between Tokyo and Berlin as symbolic targets but am willing to consider the question if someone wants to pursue it).

          I don't think that the Ruhr or Berlin pass the "unscathed" test.
          Dropping a "nuke" on Berlin would achieve little more than to rearrange the rubble, just as one dropped on Tokyo would simply scatter its ashes once more. There were few undamaged cities of any merit left in Germany by the time the first bombs were perfected. That was why Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura were chosen to be bombed in Japan because over 70% of it's major cities already lay in ruins.
          "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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          • #6
            First are the B29s ready to carry it? If not a lancaster could do it.

            April 6, 1944 - Pre DDay, Pre-Bagration - definately a Ruhr Valley target.

            Nov 6, 1944 - Allies are at the Gates of Germany -
            Dresden to demonstrate to the Russians
            or Berlin to decapitate the Nazi party

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            • #7
              the US would not have had a second in hesitation on using the bomb on any of it's enemies (as it always does) in order to win the war faster and prove it's supremacy. had the bomb been available earlier or had the war lasted longer in europe (not likely) one or more bombs would have been used on one of the German cities.

              yes, a ruhr city makes more sense, but then any city, really. the goeal beeing to terrorise the ethe

              of course it would mean that B-29 might need to be used as the least vulnerable aircraft in the allied inventory, but the luftwaffe moight still have proven more of a danger than the japanese air force.
              "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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              • #8
                Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                Dropping a "nuke" on Berlin would achieve little more than to rearrange the rubble, just as one dropped on Tokyo would simply scatter its ashes once more. There were few undamaged cities of any merit left in Germany by the time the first bombs were perfected. That was why Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kokura were chosen to be bombed in Japan because over 70% of it's major cities already lay in ruins.

                yes, only difference is that the US did not want to burn/kill the emperor, while Hitler would have been a good target.
                "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                  First are the B29s ready to carry it? If not a lancaster could do it.

                  April 6, 1944 - Pre DDay, Pre-Bagration - definately a Ruhr Valley target.

                  Nov 6, 1944 - Allies are at the Gates of Germany -
                  Dresden to demonstrate to the Russians
                  or Berlin to decapitate the Nazi party
                  Good question regarding the availibility of B-29s, but I postulated in the question that the bomber capability exists.
                  Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

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                  • #10
                    How about Munich? Was it heavily bombed before the time frame we are using? If so, then maybe a German city that fell in the Russian zone of occupation when the war ended. How better to send a message to the Soviets than to let them see the damage first hand? This last a purely political consideration.
                    Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                    • #11
                      Interesting discussion, one feels a bit macabe racking ones brain for suitable sites. I have been to Germany (FAR after the events in question) and found the people and their country spectacular.

                      I would suggest Flensburg. In 1939 (the only year for which I could easily find data) it had a population of 71,000+. Historically it went through the war unscathed and was chosen by Doenitz as the capital of the Reich during his brief tenure leading the country.

                      Anyplace that's made any significant contribution to the war effort has already been targetted. I thought of Kiel for example. As home of the Kriegsmarine (and therefore the U-boat force) this would have made a good symbol. Unfortunately (? ) it was already 80% leveled by the time your bomb is ready.
                      Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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                      • #12
                        For Some Strange Reason

                        I just can't see an Atomic Bomb (Even if it had been ready in 1944) being dropped on Germany.

                        Seems to me, that the Bombs dropped on Japan were more controllable than if one or even 2 were to be dropped on Germany.

                        Think about the Fallout in Europe should the winds kick up the Radiation Dust left by the Atomic Bomb Blast.

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                        • #13
                          It's been awhile since I read on this subject, but IIRC it boiled down to the fact that Germany was indeed considered at length for targetting, but most sites of any value had been extensively bombed already, and the US wanted to get cleaner data on atom bomb damage effects, with an eye toward strategic considerations for the post-war era. Also, logistically, by the time the Bombs were ready to be deployed, Germany was already in the advanced stages of disintegration, so their strategic value in Europe was quickly evaporating. I think we did not have the first successful detonation until AFTER FDR had died.... Meanwhile, in the wake of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, it was looking like the Japanese were digging in for a final deathmatch on the home islands, for which Allied planners were estimating something like 100,000+ casualties. So the Big Stick HAD to be swung at Japan, given the state of Allied knowledge at the time.

                          As far as airlift, IMHO, given the US mindset at the time does anyone here REALLY think the US would have entrusted the A-Bomb on any plane but a US one? Even IF a Lancaster had the payload capacity (which I don't know either way), I think it would have been like giving your daughter's 16 year old boyfriend the keys to your new Mazerati and a full tank of gas....Not gonna happen no matter how much you like the guy. Nothin' against you Brits, but it's OUR new toy, we're playin' with it FIRST!
                          Last edited by jthomas; 21 Sep 07, 18:46.

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                          • #14
                            My vote would have been for Dresden.
                            It was relatively untouched before the massive fire bombing raid of Jan. '45. Also considering the already strained relationship we had with Stalin, it would have given him a real show of Western power. And yes I do know that he already had riddled, our nuke program with spies, but at that time the western powers did not.

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                            • #15
                              JT, your contention that the bomb was only an American toy is not strictly true.

                              As shown in the Quebec Agreement, the USA and UK were considered to be partners in the development of the bomb (and subsequent technologies). Although the US was certainly the senior partner.

                              "It is agreed between us .... that we will not use it against third parties without each other's consent." So the UK was considered a full partner in the decisions of where/when to use the weapon.

                              Lots here:
                              http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/Ma...ct/index.shtml

                              This is a WHAT IF, we all understand when and how the bomb was actually used. The discussion is what if the bomb had been ready a year earlier (which seems possible if we allow for some earlier break-throughs). Would it have been used on Germany and where? Allow for a years less strategic bombing of Germany, and a host of targets might be worth hitting.
                              Amateurs study tactics, Professionals study logistics.

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