In the early morning hours of July 16, 1945, some of the greatest scientific minds of a generation gathered in the New Mexican desert to watch the results of their unprecedented, world-changing experiment: to build the most powerful weapon in the world. But when they pressed the button on their bomb, nicknamed “Gadget,” they weren’t quite sure what would happen. The general consensus was that the bomb would yield energy equivalent to 5,000 tons of TNT (the actual result as it was finally calculated was 21,000 tons). Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the Manhattan Project, had bet ten dollars against scientist George Kistiakowsky’s wager, with his entire month’s pay, that the bomb would not work at all. Enrico Fermi offered a wager on “whether or not the bomb would ignite the atmosphere, and if so, whether it would merely destroy New Mexico or destroy the world.”
Tag Archives | World War 2
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Winston Churchill was accused of ordering a cover-up of a Second World War encounter between a UFO and a RAF bomber because he feared public “panic” and loss of faith in religion, newly released secret files disclose.
The former Prime Minister allegedly banned reporting of the “bizarre” incident, off the east coast of England, for half a century amid fears disclosures about unidentified flying objects would create public hysteria.
He is said to have made the orders during a secret war meeting with US General Dwight Eisenhower, the then commander of the Allied Forces, at an undisclosed location in America during the latter part of the conflict.
The claims are contained in thousands of pages of declassified files on UFOs, released on Thursday online by the National Archives.
Don’t worry, they’re just celebrating the 65th anniversary of our two countries’ tag team victory over the Nazis! Wired reports:
This weekend marks the 65th anniversary of V-E Day, the end of the Second World War in Europe. In Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union, May 9 marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany. Victory Day (День Победы) is a major public holiday there, vested with almost sacred meaning.
But this year’s military parade in Red Square is particularly unusual: It’s the first time active-duty U.S. troops have been invited to march in the ceremony. Pictured here are soldiers of Co. C, 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, part of the 170th Brigade Combat Team, in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. They took part in the parade as part of a contingent of troops from the nations that defeated Hitler.
[Read more at Wired]
Would WWII have turned out differently if Adolph Hitler had gotten his hands on the Turin Shroud? He may have believed it would bestow him with Jesus powers. From the Telegraph:
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Both the Vatican and the Italian royal family, the Savoys, who were the guardians and owners of the shroud, feared that the German leader, who had an interest in the esoteric, might try to steal the linen cloth.
Officially this was to protect it from possible bombing (in Turin). In reality, it was moved to hide it from Hitler who was apparently obsessed by it. When he visited Italy in 1938, top-ranking Nazi aides asked unusual and insistent questions about the Shroud.
The shroud, which is supposed to have wrapped Christ’s body after he was crucified, was returned to Turin in 1946 on the orders of Italy’s last king, Umberto II. While millions of people believe the shroud to be authentic, sceptics believe it is a medieval fake.
From the Daily Mail:
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Letters have surfaced in Germany proving that the World War Two spy who inspired the hero the the Oscar-winning film The English Patient was no womaniser but a gay man in love with a young soldier called Hans Entholt.
The correspondence also indicate the Hungarian-born adventurer Count Laszlo de Almásy did not die of a morphine overdose after suffering terrible burns and dreaming of the woman he loved, the fate the befell the fictional hero played by Ralph Fiennes in the film.
Instead Almásy succumbed to amoebic dysentery in 1951 never having once slept with a woman.
While the Imperial War Museum in London holds reports he wrote for German intelligence in WW2 under lock and key, letters written by Almásy, who worked for Rommel’s Afrika Corps, have been found in Germany, confirming the long-time rumours about his sexuality.
The Heinrich Barth Institute for African Studies in Cologne has discovered the intimate correspondence penned by him.
From Yahoo News:
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New evidence from Russian archives suggests Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with rescuing tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, was alive after Soviets reported that he had died in a Moscow prison, a Swedish magazine and U.S. researchers reported Thursday.
The fate of Wallenberg, who was arrested in Budapest in January 1945 by the Soviet army, has remained one of the great mysteries of World War II.
The Soviets claimed he was executed July 17, 1947 but never produced a reliable death certificate or his remains. Witnesses claim he was seen in Soviet prisons or labor camps many years later, although those accounts were never verified.
Now, the archives of the Russian Security Services say a man identified only as Prisoner No. 7, who was interrogated six days after the diplomat’s reported death, was “with great likelihood” Wallenberg.
The security services reported the find last November to Susanne Berger and Vadim Birstein, two members of a research team that conducted a 10-year investigation into Wallenberg’s disappearance in the 1990s.
Here is another (controversial) chapter from my book 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003.
For more on me, look at The Memory Hole.
The tattooed numbers on the forearms of people held and killed in Nazi concentration camps have become a chilling symbol of hatred. Victims were stamped with the indelible number in a dehumanizing effort to keep track of them like widgets in the supply chain.
These numbers obviously weren’t chosen at random. They were part of a coded system, with each number tracked as the unlucky person who bore it was moved through the system.
Edwin Black made headlines in 2001 when his painstakingly researched book, IBM and the Holocaust, showed that IBM machines were used to automate the “Final Solution” and the jackbooted takeover of Europe. Worse, he showed that the top levels of the company either knew or willfully turned a blind eye.
A year and a half after that book gave Big Blue a black eye, the author made more startling discoveries.… Read the rest
The blog Ptak Science Books has an interesting slice of history: an extensive series of maps originally published in Life Magazine in 1942, detailing a number of ways in which the Axis powers could have successfully invaded the United States and taken over the country.
The companion article was titled “Now the U.S. Must Fight for Its Life” and intended to make readers consider the possibility of the United States losing World War II and falling under Nazi control. Thankfully, these are maps of a history that never occurred.
The Imperial Japanese Army's notorious medical research team carried out secret human experiments regarded as some of the worst war crimes in history. Its scientists subjected more than 10,000 people per year to grotesque Josef Mengele-style torture in the name of science, including captured Russian soldiers and downed American aircrews. The experiments included hanging people upside down until they choked, burying them alive, injecting air into their veins and placing them in high-pressure chambers. Now new detail about their victims' suffering could be revealed after the authorities in Tokyo announced plans to open an investigation into human bones thought to have come from the unit. A new search is also due to be carried out for mass graves that may contain more victims of human experiments.